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Gary Howey

” IN 2017

Simplicity is the key to outdoor success By Larry Myhre

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

February 12, 2015

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that whether you are fishing, hunting, photographing wildlife, camping or otherwise enjoying the outdoors, you should keep it simple.

We’re pretty lucky today. The marketplace provides just about everything and anything anyone could want and then some. The problem is, just how much do we need to be successful whether fishing or hunting or just enjoying the outdoors?

The answer lies, in my opinion, in the KISS principle. Keep it Simple Stupid.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy all the latest gear. That’s part of the fun. What I am saying is don’t try to haul everything with you on every outing.

Let’s take ice fishing, for example. I just counted my ice rods and reels. Sixteen.


Mobility is often the key to successful ice fishing. That’s why you should keep your equipment down to a bare minimum while on the ice. Too much stuff will tend to anchor you in one spot because it is too much work to move.

We won’t even talk about the boxes of lures, lines and ancillary equipment.

But when I head for the ice, I pick and choose what I take based on the water I will be fishing and the species of fish.
What always goes is this. My ice fishing bucket. On the outside I have pop-riveted three, small PVC tubes to hold rods. Inside the bucket are my slip-on ice cleats, my ice safety spikes, a needle nose pliers, a bait puck and an ice scoop and a bottle of water. On a cord attached to the bucket’s handle are a clipper for cutting line, a small scissors for cutting braided line and a small hemostat for removing hooks from fish. I also always carry a flotation cushion to place on top of the bucket to sit on.

I carry three rods on the ice, all in the PVC tubes on the bucket. Why three? Well, all are rigged with something different so I can change rods and not lures.

When it comes to changing lures, I use the small Mustad clips made for fly tying to attach my tear drops, spoons or whatever. They are so small I have to hold them with the needle nose pliers to change lures, but it is much quicker, and for me, much easier than retying every time. The tiny lures also have better action than if they were tied direct to the line with anything but a loop knot.

Two of the rods will be equipped with bite indicators and the third is not. It is used for fishing heavier spoons or lures such as the Jigging Rap.

I have a small, zippered bag in which I carry a couple small plastic boxes of lures, some chemical hand warmers, a jaw spreader for northern pike and breakfast bars in case I need something to eat.

My Vexilar depth finder and Jiffy power auger round out the supplies. All of this, along with a Mr. Heater goes into my Clam one-man shelter.

So what happened to the KISS principle. Well, this really isn’t as much as it sounds. If it is a mild day and we won’t be using shelters, I might take out only a rod, a few lures, bait and the Vexilar.

Successful ice fishing often relies on your ability to be mobile. You shouldn’t spend time fishing where the fish are not. You’ll dig a lot of holes and move often.

On panfish lakes we often pour water on top of the ice and take readings through the ice looking for suspended fish before we even begin digging holes. That’s a tactic, however, that only works when there is no snow on the ice.

But the key is this. You have to move around. Taking too much gear out with you will cause you to stay put because it is just too much work to move. If that’s the case, you won’t catch many fish over the course of the winter season.

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