On our ride from Chase on the Lake Resort down to the Leech Lake access, Dave Genz told me his father and uncle used to cut one ice hole with a hammer and chisel and fish that hole for two days at a stretch. Good or bad, bite or no bite that’s what they had and that’s what they fished.
Now, unless he’s seeing fish on his screen or on the end of his line, Genz won’t spend more than 5 minutes on a hole.
They call him “Mr. Ice Fishing” for a reason. And in over half a century on the hard water, his success at developing a nearly clairvoyant level of fish-finding ability has hinged on his willingness to embrace modern tools and techniques.
Often, as anglers advance in their years, an inverse relationship with technology finds them shunning the new and clinging to the comfort of tried-and-true, albeit old-fashioned, methods.
Not so for Dave Genz. Examples are many, but the one that hit me in the head—literally—is his use of the Vexilar Fish Phone.
Essentially, an underwater camera system whose base unit creates its own Wi-Fi hotspot, the Fish Phone emits a signal that anglers can pick up via the free app on any Wi-Fi enabled device—a device like the Apple iPad that Genz mounts to the interior frame of his Clam Fish Trap.
With his portable shelter positioned over an ice hole, he drops the camera in the downview position and watches the show on his iPad.
“Today, we like to stay mobile; we run and gun to find the fish and this (iPad setup) helps me do that,” Genz says. “We’ve taken the sport from the Stone Age into the Space Age.”
Funny story: When Genz urged me to take this deal for a spin, I knew the iPad was in there somewhere, but as I closed the Fish Trap, the forward edge of the frame passed over my head and the tablet clipped me right behind the left ear.
No damage to iPad or angler, but this experience left me profoundly impressed with the modernized methods of a man deeply connected to the sport’s history.
It’s not about teaching old dogs new tricks—it’s about recognizing and appreciating the fact that success is a relevant term. Relevant in that yesterday’s performance is passé tomorrow—unless we evolve with our pursuits.
Just ask Mr. Ice Fishing.