In a sense, every day of good ice is Christmas for ice anglers. Especially if the fishing is good.
And then there's the endless window-shopping opportunities - the new toys, gadgets and gizmos to try on the ice.
Yes, 'tis the season.
What follows isn't so much a Christmas shopping list as it is a mini rundown of new and improved toys that can make the ice-fishing experience even more enjoyable.
But if you do find any of the following under your tree this Christmas, count yourself lucky. Then get out on the ice, because even here, Christmas doesn't last forever.
Jiffy Pro 4 propane ice auger
The first propane-powered auger on the market, the Pro 4 doesn't emit smoke and is especially good for use in those "permanent" ice-fishing houses, where you drill the holes inside, then usually have to keep the door and windows open for another 10 minutes to let the place air out. Not a lot of fun on, say, Lake Mille Lacs in the middle of January.
The Pro 4 runs on a "pounder" propane canister, the kind you can buy just about anywhere. Just pop it onto the bracket atop the auger - where the gas tank is located on traditional augers - and fire it up.
According to Jiffy, the four-stroke Pro 4 is clean, leaves no gas smell on your hands - or in general - is quiet but powerful, doesn't require priming or choking and the engine won't flood. And, of course, it's low maintenance with no mixing of fuel, with low emissions. Cost is about $500.
Strike Sensor pager
The problem with keeping tabs on your tip-ups is that you constantly have to be on watch, which can be especially difficult if you're also fishing in a shanty.
But with the Strike Sensor, when there's a bite of any sorts, a transmitter attached to the tip-up emits a "beep" to the pager up to 100 yards away. The system is completely wireless and one pager monitors any number of transmitters, the company says.
The transmitter attaches easily to all tip-ups, set poles and bank fishing rods; is weatherproof and operates in rain, snow and sub-zero temperatures; and it pops off the line when you set the hook. It also features a glowing red light for night fishing, operates on one 9-volt battery and it's programmable frequency prevents false alarms from other angers' systems.
The pager "beeps" the instant the transmitter is tripped, is capable of receiving a signal from up to 100 yards, operates on one 9-volt battery and may be powered with your own 12-volt or AC adapter and, like the transmitter, the programmable frequency prevents false alarms from other systems. Cost for a transmitter/pager is about $80.
Ladredge Outdoors Pop-It
Keeping that glow jig glowing can be tiring. The answer? The Pop-It. It resembles a small flashlight and sends out an instantaneous pulse of light like you would find in those old camera flash bulbs, which, it turns out, produce a bright, long-lasting glow.
Hang it around your neck or store it in your pocket. It fires up a glow jig in about two seconds. It's water resistant and operates on a AA battery. Cost is about $25.
Vexilar FS-1000 Underwater Camera
Renown for its sonar fishing systems, the FS-1000 is Vexilar's first complete underwater viewing system. One store in Baxter has even paired it with an FL-20 flasher for the ultimate ice-fishing combo package.
The FS-1000 features a color LCD 7-inch monitor, a 90-degree viewing angle and 80 feet of cable.
Cost is about $500.
Vexilar FL-22 HD
And just when you didn't think Vexilar could top its FL-20, the company this year has introduced the FL-22.
According to the company, the FL-22 is the first flasher sonar system that matches the depth range set to the resolution on the display so you see every possible detail in the water below.
It also offers six 10-foot increment range settings, with a maximum depth of 60 feet; and two auto zoom zones, one for the bottom six feet and the other for the bottom 12 feet.
And for super-shallow water fishing, a low-power mode is built in.
Cost of the Pro Pack model is about $550.