Side Imaging, ‘Croix Legends, common carp, RBFF and Team USA

They’ve come by plane. By big ‘ol jet airliner. By turbo powered evolutions of the Kitty Hawk – and the locals, Team USA, by Suburban and Smart Car. (Okay, maybe – hopefully – not Smart Cars.) An international mix of the best ice anglers on earth have collapsed on Central Wisconsin’s Wausau to spar in the 2013 World Ice Fishing Championship. And the mix of representing nations is diverse to say the least.

Beyond the hometown stars and stripes, the bill includes the Scandinavian bloc countries of Sweden and Finland. Mongolia is representing – no Genghis Kahn, but some well armed ice warriors nonetheless. The Russians have invaded. Can’t throw a party without Kazakhstan, so they were invited to Wisconsin, too. The European roster builds with Estonia, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. Icing the cake is a contingent from the island nation of Japan, where hardwater smelting is popular and tiny techniques mandatory – perhaps a distinct advantage if the bite is nip and tuck.

World war is waged this Saturday and Sunday, February 16-17, 2013 on Big Eau Pleine Reservoir. The two day conflict pits nation against nation, team members brandishing one line per person and fishing only single hooks. Groundbaits and chumming are permitted, but with strict guidelines as to their composition and mass – measured metrically, of course. Anglers fish sector-to-sector under the watchful eyes of officials and with full support from their on-the-ice team coaches. And, if by chance, controversy erupts related to breaches of protocol and rules, an elected jury settles the claim. Sort of like ice fishing’s version of the United Nations.

Unlike classic North American tournaments, which are species-specific, WIFC athletes can register anything with scales and a swim bladder. On Big Eau Plein Reservoir, the piscatorial biomass includes: White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis), Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus), Bluegill (Lepmois macrochirus), Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), Perch (Perca fla‐vescens), Yellow Bullhead (Ictalurus natalis), White Sucker (Catostomus commersonii), Creek Chub (Semolus atromaculatus), Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas), Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio), Shorthead Redhorse (Moxostoma macrolepidotum ) and White‐bass (Morone chrysops ).

An international insider said the underappreciated common carp could separate the wheat from the chaff, victor from spoils. That, or a king’s ransom of golden shiners… Yes, in this one-world event, bait goes in the bucket and gets counted.

Learn more about the WIFC and Team USA, visit

Technology levees equality to preserve classic competition

Fish are creatures of structure. They follow edges; relate to rocks, clip along outside weedlines and encircle offshore humps. The eternal goal is to identify the best fish holding structure and work it like you own it. But when it came to selecting the tournament grid for the 2013 WIFC, Mike McNett and his team of organizers actually sought the absence of structure. To keep the playing field even, per say, the fishing area needed to be plagued with sameness, no structure.

To find such a blank canvas required ingenuity alongside techy sonar that could read sideways across the lakescape. Humminbird provided the technology, WIFC organizers added the creativity. With specialty ice-rigging of a Humminbird 998c HD SI (Side Imaging) COMBO, McNett’s crew panned a swath of the reservoir that held fish but was devoid of any significant structure. During tournament play, anglers are not permitted to use electronics and must rely solely on skill, feel and sixth senses. Ironically, it’s Humminbird technology that serves to preserve the art of the contest.

Rod maker

Nobody respects fishing history like St. Croix Rod. The decorated rod builders recognize that yesteryear’s attention to craft still looms large in today’s finished product. The company that designs ‘The Best Rods on Earth’ appreciates that ice fishing is an international pastime, too, and in many circumstances and regions, is also a family’s chief means to meals during the winter months. So rod quality and performance is taken very seriously.

For those reasons, St. Croix has continually invested in Team USA and the the World Ice Fishing Championship. It dates back to their collaboration with famed Polish ice angler Greg Wilczynski and development of the now famous Legend Ice series. McNett himself was an early tester and user of the legendary rods. In fact, he and partner Tony Boshold won the North American Ice Fishing Championship in 2005 fishing St. Croix Legend Ice rods. And in 2010, Team USA took gold wielding the same sticks. The sensitivity of the adjustable and interchangeable spring indicator system, says McNett, gave Team USA an advantage angling for light-biting fish in Kazakhstan.

This weekend Team USA will again put St. Croix Legends up against whatever the international crowd chooses to wield.

RBFF takes to the ice

The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) Take Me Fishing campaign is expanding its offerings with the addition of ice fishing to its roster. The launch comes in conjunction with their support of the USA Ice Team and the 10th Annual World Ice Fishing Championship.

Take Me Fishing is proud to be a part of the 2013 World Ice Fishing Championship as this unique competition gives Take Me Fishing the opportunity to spread the word about a fun and challenging winter sport and provide guidance for all levels of anglers and outdoor enthusiasts who are interested in getting out on the ice. provides ice fishing know-how from videos on the best rods and reels, to blog posts about glow-in-the-dark lures. Hear expert tips from the USA Ice Team, learn to identify where on the lake to carve holes, how to use a tip-up and of course, offer an understanding of ice thicknesses relative to safety.

“During the winter many anglers in cold weather states pack up their gear and wait until spring to hit the water again. Ice fishing gives anglers an opportunity to stay outdoors all year round and keep doing what they love. is a great resource for them to find the information that they need to get started,” said RBFF President and CEO, Frank Peterson.

“Having home ice will be a major advantage for the USA Ice Team on many levels,” Team Captain, Mike McNett, explained. “The team and I are excited to work with Take Me Fishing to encourage Americans to discover the sport. provides the building blocks for an ice fishing adventure and shares the sport with the everyday man while demonstrating that being part of something like the WIFC is a reachable dream for anyone with a passion for fishing and a desire to learn.”

Image courtesy Traditions Media

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