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Genz on Mobility
Grumpy or not, the classic shape of an ice fisherman is a somewhat older guy, dressed in fairly warm clothing (that’s not exactly new, either), standing there on the ice with no thought of drilling another hole someplace else.
The only time this guy changes spots is when he sits down on the bucket for a while.
Or, if he’s not outside, he’s in a shelter of some kind that takes a road crew to move from one place to another.
Either way, you get a snapshot of ice fishing the way many people think it still has to be.
There was a time when Huddle and Hope was your only choice, when you were forced to fish differently through the ice than over open water.
Then came Dave Genz, the man who transformed ice fishing forever, who showed us that we didn’t have to settle for the old way. More than 30 years ago he changed everything, including the words we use to define ice fishing.
Genz talks about the Stone Age when referring to old school ice fishing mentality. And he chose the word ‘mobility’ when describing the need to remain on the go until you find and catch fish. Mobility has become one of the most commonly used words for describing modern ice fishing, but the true and full definition of what Genz means by mobility remains misunderstood.

Defining Mobility
As it pertains to ice fishing, mobility means that you do everything it takes to find and catch fish. You move as often, and as far, as necessary to follow a plan.
This does not mean you have to put pressure on yourself, or that ice fishing has to become a cardiovascular endurance contest. Fishing is supposed to be fun.
So, always go at a pace that’s comfortable for you. But to make sure we all understand the various facets of mobility, here is the story– from the man who coined the term.
“When we talk mobility,” Genz begins, “we mean everything from choosing equipment that helps you move, to packing light, deciding that you’re going to remain mobile after you get out on the ice, and executing both big moves and small moves.”
There’s even more to it, but here are the details, one at a time.
It all starts with the right gear! No matter what your intentions, you cannot remain mobile if you’re not set up to be mobile.
The first shot fired in the modern ice fishing revolution was Genz’s invention of the Fish Trap, the original instant setup shelter. To this day, the low profile, lightweight Fish Traps (Scout, Pro, Guide) are the most mobile shelters ever made. “If you walk out on the ice,” stresses Genz, “these are what you need.” Slightly larger, but extremely mobile for their size, are the Yukon and Voyager.
“And if you tow your fish house with an ATV or snowmobile,” says Genz, “then the (Fish Trap) X2, X4 or Thermal X will help you fish plenty of spots.”
No matter how instantly a shelter sets up, nothing allows you to fish more ground than walking quickly through a series of holes and kneeling or standing as you ‘check’ each one.
“If you fish during the daytime,” says Genz, “you should stay on the move, even after you catch a nice fish. Most fish don’t move much during the day, so you have to move to find them.”
For years, Genz accepted the downside of fishing outside: wet, sore knees from kneeling on the ice, and getting so cold that even he wondered how much fun it was.
“But the clothing fixed all that,” he says. “Now we have Ice Armor suits with padded knees and seat, that are completely waterproof. They keep the wind out, and keep you dry. That lets you keep fishing outside longer.”
On most winter days, nobody falls in love with kneeling on the ice for hours, so the classic scenario for Genz and his fellow Team True Blue pros is to hit the ice with a plan in mind, drilling plenty of holes on the first spot and moving quickly from hole to hole to see what’s up. Their Fish Traps are a flip away from providing walls and heat whenever they want them, which lets them keep fishing as they warm up. On really cold, really windy days, the shelters are occupied the entire time– except when they are being moved from hole to hole.
“There’s almost no such thing as a day you can’t fish anymore,” says Genz. “We have the right clothes, and the right shelter, and we just keep fishing no matter what. With Ice Armor, you can hole-hop, even when it’s rude out there.”
‘Rude’ is another of Genz’s terms, a word he uses to describe the weather on a day when some reasonable people would find a reason to stay indoors. “If you like to fish,” he continues, “just go, no matter what the weather is. That’s what I do. I go pretty much every day, all winter.”

Anchors are for Boats
Gearing up for mobility is a big deal. You have to choose the right gear, but you should also avoid packing it so full of additional gear that you turn it into an anchor.
“Bring everything you need, and nothing more,” is another phrase Genz came up with many years ago, and it rings true today. Need is the key word. Your vehicle, or base camp (for Genz, often a Clam portable shelter) acts as warehouse. If you run out of something, you run to base camp for supplies. But don’t drag everything with you.
“If it’s easy to do, you’ll do it,” says Genz, “but if it’s not, you won’t.”
He means: if it’s easy to move from spot to spot, you’ll keep moving until you catch fish. If you have to lug every piece of gear you own from hole to hole, you will move maybe twice, and then sit there exhausted, whether you’re catching anything or not.
So, mobility means to gear up for mobility, to have a plan in mind, and to execute that plan.
“I hear it all the time, in the restaurant,” says Genz, “about how they’re gonna drill all these holes. But you get out there, and those same guys are sitting in one place for hours.”
Plans have a way of going out the window out on the ice. That’s why moving has to be something you plan for, and set up for. Otherwise, you won’t do it.
Note: Dave Genz, known as Mr. Ice Fishing, was the primary driver of the modern ice fishing revolution. He is now captain of Clam’s Team True Blue, an elite pro staff dedicated to helping people catch fish through the ice. For more, go to www.trueblueicefishing.com.
Next time: the details on why daytime demands mobility.

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