Dave Genz Brings Ice Fishing to Open Water with His Holey Boat


The Godfather of Ice Fishing drilled two eight-inch holes in the floor of his brand new boat—on purpose. Truth is, Dave Genz couldn’t be happier. When this ice fishing guru can’t be on the ice, now his open water fishing environment feels exactly like it (except for needing the parka, bibs, and boots, that is). Take a 54-second tour of Genz’s new “open water ice fishing boat” by watching the video below. He calls it his Holey Boat.

The command center (at the stern by the tiller motor) has everything Genz needs. The eight-inch hole opens straight through the boat next to Dave’s comfortable and padded seat. Under the seat is a livewell. The Vexilar is adjacent to the command center and the SonarPhone T-Box displays underwater images on his iPad. A gripper tool holds the transducer cable in position.

“This feels comfortable and familiar to me,” said Genz. He showcased the brand new, customized boat at the Clam Outdoors’ Pro Team day this fall. “I like to get directly over the fish. I guess this is a pretty fancy two-holer you could say,” Genz said with a laugh.

Just like a livewell, the water in the holes stays the same level outside the boat. It finds its own level. When traveling to a new spot and running at full throttle, those holes would create drag and generally make for a wet and messy boat. Genz developed two custom locking plugs (pictured below) to improve the experience on the Holey Boat. Thick foam and locks keep the bottom of the boat flush and the interior of the boat dry.

One of the eight-inch plugs being removed from a hole in the Holey Boat. Image by Kristine Houtman.
One of the eight-inch plugs being removed from a hole in the Holey Boat. Image by Kristine Houtman.

The SonarPhone works with his Vexilar and Genz uses Navionics mapping to connect to his iPad.

“The Navionics chip is helpful on the lake,” said Genz. “My iPad is a great tool now.” Open water fishing is the “off-season” for Genz. He’s scouting for the spots he’ll get back to on ice with a very strategic approach.

A local boat dealership, Frankie’s Live Bait and Marine of Chisago City, Minnesota, configured the boat to Genz’s custom specifications. Pat Whalen executed the unique welding work.

The center seatback flips to face starboard- or port-side and opens for equipment storage underneath. Two 30-pound Minn Kota anchors secure the rig the old fashioned way (but with electric up/down access). Once Genz learns how Minn Kota’s iPilot Link offers a “Spot Lock” via GPS coordinates, he’ll most likely upgrade to new technology. For now old school has its benefits, too, and Genz designed this rig to mirror his on-ice experience of getting set in one spot until he’s ready to move to the next.

The biggest question is what Genz will do with the extra time he’ll have that would normally be spent scooping slush. Watch for other unique ice and open water ideas from Dave Genz in the months ahead. He is always thinking about fishing and he can’t wait to get out on the ice. Holey Boat or not, hardwater is still his favorite season. This new boat is going to make his off-season a bit more enjoyable and Dave is always happiest pulling up pan fish and walleyes through a hole. Now he can do it in a t-shirt in July, too!

K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.

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