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Ice-fishing tips from Tony Boshold, the best in the business

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Updated: January 6, 2013 9:53AM

Tony Boshold came a long way from
fishing the rocks at Montrose Harbor as a kid from the Northwest Side. He represented the United States four times at the World Ice Fishing
Championships and won a gold medal in 2010 in Rhinelander, Wis.

Last month, I went to Boshold’s seminar during Henry’s Ice Fishing Extravaganza. I will condense his hour-plus into a few hundred words of highlighted help.

‘‘The modern age of ice fishing is about becoming more mobile,’’ Boshold said. ‘‘If you were open-water fishing, you wouldn’t make the same cast over and over to the same spot.’’

Everything builds from that point.

He began with the most basic thing: proper clothing.

‘‘Cotton kills,’’ said Boshold, who knows fabrics from years of running a carpet-cleaning business. He said cotton holds 300 percent to 500 percent of its weight in moisture.

Boshold wears two pairs of socks, with a heavy sock on the outside. For boots, he leans toward at least 1,200 grams of Thinsulate. He uses Kahtoola MICROspikes (because snow and ice don’t clump up as much) for traction.

He obviously dresses in layers and wears a fleece hood when necessary. His outer garment is a Strikemaster ice-fishing suit, which has padded knees. He keeps his wallet and phone in a plastic bag.

The thinnest ice Boshold will go out on is about five turns of the auger deep (a few inches). Showing a dry sense of humor, Boshold, who weighs less than 150 pounds, said: ‘‘I always recommend sending the big guy out first.’’

He said to keep picks around your neck, not on your belt, so they are handy in case the worst happens. And he grows his facial hair during the winter, so he can freeze his beard to the ice and be found in case the worst happens.

He uses a four-stroke ice auger for drilling because it runs better and uses regular gas. He spreads his holes far apart when he is searching for fish; otherwise, they are much more tightly grouped. He slushes shut holes that don’t produce, so he doesn’t waste time.

‘‘Put the keepers next to the hole you caught them in,’’ said Boshold, who obviously alters that in tournament settings.

He uses a flasher and a camera, but the camera is for ‘‘search-mode only.’’ In major tournaments, he sometimes will camera-fish for two days without fishing at all. He keeps extensive notes while searching and fishing.

‘‘Patterns happen from good notes,’’ Boshold said.

He doesn’t just rely on GPS, either. He uses both way points and physical descriptions.

He uses 2- and 4-pound line, favoring high-visibility line. The 4-pound line isn’t for strength; it’s for when he wants to slow the jig down.

Boshold has a long history with scented plastics, particularly Little Atoms. That company was also his first product endorsement with Krazy Dust. He thinks scent can be key. That can be as simple as smashing wax worms to get their guts (scent) out.

By the looks of the weather forecast, maybe his wisdom can be applied on ice next week.

Hunting note

Some over-the-counter permits remain for Illinois’ muzzleloader season, which runs Friday through Sunday.

Stray cast

The Bears’ defense looks like a wooden rowboat in the weeds behind a shuttered Northwoods resort.

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