Tag Archives: ice fishing

There’s Still Time for Furbearers

March: It’s the month where everyone can’t stop talking about spring. For anyone out there hunting coyote and other furbearers, though, March means this is your last chance to call in a decent, winter pelt. Here are a few tips from Jared McGrath of Goodhue Marina & Firearms on making the most of what’s left of furbearer season.

Bust out the Jet Sled

Man in winter camo hauling decoy in jet sled in snow [Image Credit: Jared McGrath]

Your jet sled isn’t just for ice fishing. [Image Credit: Jared McGrath]

With the warming temperatures, wet, heavy snow is a pain to slog through. Even on snowshoes, hiking in your gear can be a nightmare. Best way to get the gear out to your blind? “Use your jet sled,” McGrath says. That’s right – the same one you’ve been using all winter long for ice fishing. “Chances are, you’ve got it stored right in the back of your pick-up,” says McGrath. With the lake ice rapidly melting, now’s the time for your jet-sled to become your new hunting buddy. Don’t already have one? These heavy duty, deep sleds are perfect for hauling gear by hand, ATV or snow machine. Best part? Jet sleds skid along the surface of snow and ice, even when carrying a lot of gear. McGrath recommends buying a jet-sled in camo, perfect for ice fishing and hunting.

Pack It Down

Plan on coyote hunting this week, but there’s still snow on the ground? Take the time beforehand to scout and pack down a trail to your site. McGrath recommends using your snowshoes for this. You’ll be thanking yourself later when you realize how quickly you arrived at your blind.

Back to the Drawing Board

Man in white camo coyote hunting in NH [Image Credit: Jared McGrath]

Image Credit: Jared McGrath

If at this point in the season, you’ve been calling coyotes for three months, and still haven’t bagged one, it’s time for some new strategies. Like us, coyotes don’t like this wet, heavy snow either. They may be answering your calls, but will need extra convincing to step out from the treeline. Use this as an opportunity to try out new decoys or bait. (When using bait on private land, McGrath reminds hunters to get written permission from the owner.)

It could also be that the coyotes in your area are feeling some hard-hunted anxiety. Re-situate your blind downwind in some new territory and start calling. You may just catch some youngsters off guard.

Coyote hunting rifle with scope in winter field [Image Credit: Jared McGrath]

Image Credit: Jared McGrath

Switching up your tactics will further hone your hunting style and could make all the difference in the field. And if you don’t land that male coyote you’ve been sweet-talking for hours? There’s always spring turkey hunting.

Looking for hunting rules and regulations? Check out our free, state Fish & Wildlife apps. And don’t forget to share your hunting pics with us on Facebook, Instagram and through our free app, Trophy Case®!

4 Recipes Worthy of Your Ice Fishing Catch

It may have taken you all day to land that fish, and you’re tired of the same old baked-fish-with-cracker-crust routine. Honor your day’s ice fishing catch with one of these four delicious but simple recipes that are sure to wow fishing buds and family alike.

Walleye Dip

Courtesy of Shel Zolkewich

A plate of walleye fish dip

Image: www.shelzolkewich.com

Inspired by a dish served at the Shining Falls Lodge in Manitoba, we agree with Shel Zolkewich that this appetizer is seriously something special. If making for a group, be sure to get your fill because it’s sure to disappear lightening-fast!

Ingredients

  • 2 walleye filets
  • ½ teaspoons dried dill (or 2 teaspoons fresh dill)
  • 3 – 4 whole peppercorns
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ lemon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a small frying pan, poach filets in 1 cup of water seasoned with dill and peppercorns for about 4 minutes. When done poaching, fish will be white. Remove fish from water and let dry on a plate covered with a paper towel.
  3. Combine softened cream cheese, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauces, parsley and chives. Mix well. Mix in fish. Pour mixture into glass pie plate.
  4. Bake dip mixture for 10 – 15 minutes. If you prefer the top of the dip to be crispy, broil for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Remove dip from oven, and squeeze lemon over the top. Serve with hard crackers or torn bread.

Lake Erie Perch Chowder

Courtesy of Hank Shaw at Hunter * Angler * Gardener * Cook

A bowl of perch chowder with kielbasa

Image: Holly A. Heyser

We confess: We love all of Hank’s recipes. This chowder recipe that he came up with is especially delicious because it’s got that bite of kielbasa in it. This recipe serves 8 – 10.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 quart of fish or clam stock
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon marjoram
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds skinless yellow perch fillets, cut into chunks
  • 6 – 8 ounces Polish kielbasa, sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill or parsley
  • 1 cup sour cream, served tableside

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. When it stops frothing, add onion and cook gently until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the potatoes and coat with butter. Cook 1 – 2 minutes to let the butter absorb. Sprinkle potatoes with salt.
  3. Add stock, water, and marjoram to pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Once potatoes are tender, add perch and kielbasa. Simmer another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the fresh dill or parsley.
  5. Ladle chowder into bowls and let everyone add sour cream to taste at the table. Serve with plenty of beer and crusty bread.

Baked Stuffed Pike

Courtesy of Linda Gabris at Western Sportsman

A headless stuffed pike cooked in tin foil

Image: www.foodnetworkrecipes101.com

If you’re not catching pike, this recipe also works for trout, walleye, or salmon. If you’re cooking any fish smaller than 6lbs, adjust the amount of stuffing accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs whole dressed Pike (if you prefer, remove head and tail)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Nutty Rice Stuffing

  • 1 cup wild rice, cooked according to package instructions
  • ½ cup fine breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced celery
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup ground almonds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together cooked rice, breadcrumbs, celery, green onions, almonds, lemon, zest, and basil.
  2. If cooking at home, preheat oven to 350°F. If cooking outside, stoke campfire so it burns hot and has plenty of hot embers.
  3. Lightly stuff your dressed fish with the rice stuffing. Place remaining stuffing on bottom of baking pan or, if outdoors, on a large sheet of buttered aluminum foil. Lay fish on top of stuffing. Dot fish with remaining butter.
  4. If cooking at home, cover baking pan with a lid and bake fish in the oven for 40 minutes. If cooking over a campfire, securely wrap fish in foil and place over embers, turning often until fish is flaky (about 40 minutes).
  5. When done baking, slip off skin from fish and discard. Garnish fish with lemons and dill.

Grilled Trout with Clementine, Scallion & Ginger

Courtesy of Food for Hunters

A grilled trout rests on clementine slices on a white plate

Image: foodforhunters.blogspot.com

What we love about this Asian-inspired recipe is that you can make it right out on the ice. Just remember to bring along the grill! We recommend preparing the scallion & ginger sauce at home, so you can be eating gourmet in the great outdoors in no time. This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole pan-sized trout, scaled and gutted
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 green onions, 1 chopped and 1 sliced in half lengthwise
  • Oil, for brushing
  • 1 clementine orange (or tangerine), peeled and segmented

Ginger Scallion Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of peanut oil
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, minced
  • ¼ cup of low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of white sugar
  • 1 Thai (bird’s eye) chili, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. Prepare grill to high heat. In a small saucepan, combine peanut oil, minced green onions and green ginger. Warm up mixture for a few minutes, but make sure not to brown it. Pour green onion mixture jar into a small glass jar. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, and Thai chili to the mixture in the glass jar. Shake well and set sauce aside for later use.
  2. Rinse trout under cold water and pat dry. Brush the skin and cavity with oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Stuff the fish with clementine wedges, sliced green onion, and a drizzle of that ginger scallion sauce you prepared. Note: For the clementine wedges, make sure to peel the skin off each slice so the wedges release more juices during grilling.
  3. Clean grill grates. Brush oil over grates, so the trout won’t stick to them. Place stuffed trout over the grates and cook for 3 – 5 minutes on each side until cooked through and slightly charred. Note: Depending on the size of your fish and how well your grill conducts heat, cooking time may vary.
  4. Transfer cooked fish to plates. Drizzle with more ginger scallion sauce and garnish with chopped green onion.

Looking for more great fish recipes? We’ve amassed quite a delicious collection on our Trophy Case® Fish Recipes Pinterest board!

Great Gifts for Hunters & Anglers

Hunting for great gifts for the hunters and anglers on your list? We’re here to help! After scouring the Pocket Ranger® Gear Store inventory, here are some thoughtful (and useful!) gifts that are sure to make any outdoorsy person merry this season.

Winter Gear

Winter gear gifts such as red hat, black mittens, work boots

Image: pocketrangerblog.com/gear-store

Winter hunting? Ice fishing? Hunters and anglers need all the help they can get staying warm out there this winter. Hats, gloves, masks, socks, snowpants, jackets: we’ve got it all in our Gear Store. Our favorites include this classic red Coal Harbor Beanie and these supremely packable Glacier Glove Angler Mitts. We also love the Wolverine Marauder Boots that are both waterproof and insulated with 400-gram Thinsulate Ultra insulation. These boots have the kind of all-day warmth and comfort you need when out in the woods or on the ice.

Fly-Fishing

Fly-fishing gear such as dry flies, balaclava with fish pattern, and gear carrying case

Image: pocketrangerblog.com/gear-store

Not all rivers and lakes are frozen this time of year, but anyone fishing right now will want to have a balaclava like the Airhole Drytech one we have in the Gear Store. We have plenty of flies in our Gear Store, but giving fly assortments may be the best gift of all. Since there’s nothing like reeling in a largemouth lunker, we recommend the Umpqua Largemouth Bass Selection. Instead of your typical gift bag, why not tuck all those fly-fishing goodies in the Fishpond Stowaway Reel Case. Just put a red bow on top and you’re all set!

Flannels

No outdoorsman or woman can have enough flannels. From Woolrich to Pendleton, Horny Toad to Hurley, we’ve got a few more to add to their collection this season.

Six flannels in holiday colors and checks

Top Row: Men’s Loser Machine; Woolrich; Pendleton
Bottom Row: Women’s Hurley, Horny Toad, Discrete [Image: pocketrangerblog.com/gear-store]

Camping Gear

We have so much camping gear in the Gear Store, and it was hard to choose just a few things. This Primus C7H Food Vacuum Bottle is a favorite of ours; its wide mouth makes it easy to fill, eat from, and clean. After hours spent in the stand or in the bobhouse, there’s nothing like opening up this thermos and having a hot lunch. If you’re looking to give a big ticket item, look no further than Brunton Eterna Spotting Scope. This mid-size, waterproof scope has a magnification power range of 20-45x, with a multi-step eye relief system and a durable ergonomic body. Since it’s glass will never fog, you can be sure that this will be their #1 scouting tool.

Camping gear, including black thermos, scope, and wooden-handled hunting knife

Image: pocketrangerblog.com/gear-store

We hunters and anglers go through so many knives. They get jammed, beat up, lost, or borrowed and never to be returned. This is exactly why SOG’s Woodline Large Fixed Blade Knife will be a welcome sight under the Christmas tree. It’s the best of both worlds: beautiful and functional, fitted with a rust-resistant, stainless steel blade and a wooden handle with thumb and forefinger grooves for optimal dexterity.

Trophy Case® and Pocket Ranger® Fish & Wildlife Apps

Strapped for time? The most thoughtful gift of all may just be a download away! Download our free Pocket Ranger® Fish & Wildlife apps onto any mobile device, so the lucky recipient will have complete access to great features, like state regulations, license & permit information, species profiles, and our Advanced GPS Mapping technology. And don’t forget to join Trophy Case®, our free social networking site created just for hunters and anglers. Trophy Case® users can share photos and tips, and earn points towards great prizes!

Happy Holidays!

Breaking the Ice: A Beginner’s Guide to Ice Fishing

The beauty of ice fishing, aside from the magical prospect of sitting on top of frozen water, is that you can fish on any part of the lake (provided you have ample ice). For those without boats, it might be that one chance to venture out over deeper waters in search of a lunker. In North America, ice fishing is often done from inside a small portable shelter known as a fishing shanty. The benefit of a shanty is that it allows you to stay warm as well as beat inclement weather. Ice fishing is also a great way to spend a day with friends and family—provided everybody can stay warm. While a few anglers are confident on 2.5 inches of solid ice, 4 inches is considered safe for walking. For snowmobiles and other light craft, 5-7 inches is recommended.

Ice fishing shanty [image: www.blog.syracuse.com]

Ice fishing shanty [Image: www.blog.syracuse.com]

Safety Ice safety is your number one concern. Our very own ice safety primer can be found here. As always, use good judgment when walking out onto the ice. Avoid areas with running water such as dams, spillways and streams flowing into or out of lakes. Keep in mind that slush ice is 50 percent weaker than clear ice and ice over running water is 20 percent weaker. Also, take a buddy fishing with you—it’s more fun and it could save a life.

image: www.dnr.state.oh.us

Image: www.dnr.state.oh.us

Gear The fish might be biting but without warm clothes or a way to cut a hole in the ice, you won’t be catching a thing. Warm ski pants or coveralls are the best way to go. Another essential item is a stool because it keeps you elevated and off the ice. Creating a hole in the ice can be done a number of ways, but the most efficient (if also the most cumbersome) is by augur. An ice augur is large gas or manually operated drill that can easily burrow through a foot or more of ice. If you don’t own an augur, an axe or ice saw will do the trick. Another technique, if a little sneaky, is to locate holes made by pervious fishermen where the ice isn’t as thick. These can be broken through with a small hand axe or chisel known as a spud.

Hand augur [image: wikipedia.com]

Hand augur [Image: wikipedia.com]

Technique Tips-up and jigging are the two most common forms of ice fishing. Jigging is done with a small, lightweight spinning rod, using brightly colored lures or jigs that are often “sweetened” with a piece of bait, such as a wax worm or minnow. Once you’ve reached the depth you think the fish are at, lift the rod every now and again to produce the effect known as jigging. Tip-ups are specialized ice fishing devices made of wood or plastic that allow anglers to fish multiple locations and depths at once. When a fish takes the bait, a flag is released, notifying the angler. The fish is then pulled in by hand or reel depending on your setup.

image: www.lakemichiganangler.com

Image: www.lakemichiganangler.com

Location Settling on a location depends on the species of fish you’re after. Shallow ponds and lakes are best for bass, panfish, chain pickerel and northern pike. For trout, landlocked salmon and cusk, you’ll want to fish in a deep-water lake. However, even though trout and salmon prefer deep water, it doesn’t mean you’ll find them there in the winter. Trout and salmon prefer deep water because it allows them to stay cool in the summer months. During winter months, it is not uncommon to find these fish just below the ice. Remember, if you’re after bigger fish, make sure to drill your hole big enough (8-12 inches) to land it. Lastly, don’t forget to pack a hot beverage to sip while you contemplate the unique position of standing on top of 40 or more feet of ice water.

image: wikipedia.com