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Nice on the ice: Growth in ice-fishing fueled by good fishing, good gear

Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune on

Published in Outdoors

Continuing trend

After years of gradual growth, the ice-fishing industry began booming several years ago with the advent of better shelters, innovations in augers, more sophisticated electronics and the coming of wheel houses that crank down onto the ice.

"This 'new idea' of ice-fishing is only a decade old," Francisco said.

He has a name for the old days of ice-fishing.

"The five-gallon bucket," he said.

For most, those former days have been let go like a 5-inch crappie. They're gone.

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"I used to have three kinds of tents in stock, and that covered the whole gamut of styles," Francisco said. "Now I've got 27 different models people can look at in flip-overs, plus all kinds of pop-ups. And that's not taking into account the crankdowns (wheel houses)."

Winter anglers fish their home waters wherever they live, but they'll also travel for dependable bites -- Upper Red Lake, Lake of the Woods, even Devils Lake in North Dakota.

"Lake of the Woods is the savior for the market with Mille Lacs being down," Francisco said.

Ice-fishing bonanza

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