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Video ice fishing

Father and son enjoy ice fishing, video images

Kim Fundingsland/MDN MAIN: Blake Frolich enjoys fishing from the comforts of an ice house. Here he watches a television screen that displays live video from an underwater camera.

RIVERDALE – “Do I have ’em? Yup, I have ’em!

Those were the excited words of Blake Frohlich, 12, Underwood, as he watched a fish gobble up a jig and minnow presentation in about 20 feet of water. Moments later the young fisherman pulled the fish through a hole in the ice and onto the warm floor of an ice house.

Blake’s father, Brian, had a broad smile as his son placed the fish inside a bucket containing other walleye caught during the morning bite.

The younger Frohlich had been watching anxiously on a video screen mounted inside the ice house as the fish approached his bait. A well positioned underwater camera relayed the image, turning ice fishing into a live action video game.

“I like coming out here to fish and watch the camera,” remarked Blake Frolich.

The video camera makes fishing come alive, offering a view of an angler’s presentation and of how a fish reacts to a bait. Sometimes a subtle jigging does the trick. Other times an angler needs to be more aggressive in his actions.

Fish are sometimes attracted to certain flash or motion. Other times they are indifferent or skittish. Sometimes, especially when more than one fish is in the area is competing for the same bait, little enticement is necessary. It is then that fishermen say the “bite is on.”

On this day the walleye were active and feeding during the early morning, just after sunrise. As the day progressed walleye were still seen swimming up to the suspended bait, but not willing to commit. Perch would come an go too, some of them small but others looked to be perfect for the frying pan.

“That’s why we’re out here,” remarked Brian Frolich after watching a nice perch that stared at the bait for about a minute before swimming away. “I think most guys that have permanent ice houses have cameras.”

Blake Frolich said he remembered using a Vexilar to catch fish through the ice before the camera setup used by the Frolich’s today. A Vexilar is a circular graph display in which fish are represented by colored bars. When the colored bars representing fish move toward the presentation, which is displayed by bars of a different color, it indicates a willing fish. Of course, there is some guesswork involved.

Using a camera and big display on a video screen is much different. It brings the underwater world to life. Here and there a minnow can be seen darting and pausing on the lake floor. Sometimes a shadowy image emerges, a pike or walleye. The colorful bands of perch are easily visible too. It’s a real-life video game in comfortable accommodations.

The Frolich’s were fishing out of a warm ice house equipped with a microwave, fridge, heat, lights and stove where the mouth-watering smell of links of deer sausage often fills the interior of the home away from home. Brian Frolich was seated on the end of a bunk bed. Blake Frolich was fishing in his stocking feet.

“We can do this when it’s really cold. That’s what I like about the ice house,” said Brian Frolich. “The temperature is always 70 degrees in here.”

There was another aspect to the morning on the ice too, a chance for father and son to share time together and enjoy a similar interest.

“Usually in December we start ice fishing,” said Brian Frolich. “But we hunt a lot too. He likes shooting ducks.”

“I like getting out of the house and catching fish too!” said Blake Frolich. “I like open water fishing and I really like this.”

“I like fishing too,” responded Brian Frolich. “It’s just something different through the ice and watching the camera.”

Both Frolich’s sensed the ice fishing season coming to an end too, well aware of the forecast for warmer temperatures and days of longer sunlight that will deteriorate ice conditions. Nevertheless, they had walleye to clean for evening supper.

“I like catching them and eating them,” said Blake Frolich as he picked up a bucket containing his catch and placed in the back of his father’s pickup.

Fishing buddy?

“Oh yeh,” smiled Brian Frolich.

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