TRICKING OUT YOUR ATV/UTV FOR ICE FISHING

February 2019

ATVs and UTVs are becoming increasingly popular for ice fishing because…why not? The same off-road vehicle used during the hunting season is highly adaptable for ice fishing.

So, don’t just think of these off roaders as modes of transportation. You can set up an ATV or UTV to help fast-track fishing success on the ice. For example, serious anglers move boat-mounted widescreen GPS fishfinder units to their mobile ice stations. Using the fishfinder sonar on hard ice is out. But you can use the GPS mapping feature to find detailed bottom contours that attract fish.

As the sport becomes more specialized, the need to haul more gear is necessary to stay in the game. You can tow a sled behind the ATV or load it on the UTV. So many options are available, but making the most of the limited space is a must.

Fast-track the process of tricking out your ATV or UTV for ice fishing with advice from three notable experts—Gary and Chase Parsons and Keith Kavajecz, hosts of The Next Bite TV series.

This trio of walleye pros and highly skilled educators spend more time on the water—thawed or frozen—than most anyone else. Here are some of their top picks for products, what they do and why you need them for your ATV or UTV. 

ION X ELECTRIC ICE AUGER

What it is: An electric ice auger powered by Lithium ION batteries.

What it does: Our experts like what it doesn’t do, which is run on fuel.

Why you need it: “Electric augers are lighter than their gas or propane counterparts,” Keith explains. “What I like most about electric augers is there is no fuel mess or starting issues.” All that makes an angler more likely to drill more holes to find more fish, he adds.    

What it is: A full-featured GPS/fishfinder unit that can be switched out from the boat to the ATV, UTV or even a truck dash.

What it does: While driving the ATV/UTV, anglers can see bottom contours of the lake by using the built-in maps or optional mapping chips.

Why you need it: “You cannot use sonar to see underwater structure like in summer,” Keith says. “A good chartplotter unit with detailed maps allows anglers to see fish-producing structure while on the ice.”    

What it does: Provides brilliant LED light without using a lot of battery power.

Why you need it: “Fish often bite in low light conditions during short winter days,” Keith says. “That means traveling to and from fishing locations in darkness.” This expert mounts the lights to the top of the UTV or front of an ATV. “Use these lights to illuminate a fishing spot for additional light while getting set up,” he adds. 

What it does: Secures all brands of augers to the rack of an ATV or UTV.

Why you need it: “Securing the auger to the vehicle is a given,” Chase says. “But what I really like about this bracket is you can mount the auger to the ATV instead of leaving it inside the ice shelter,” he adds. “If left inside, the sharp auger can damage and cut the fabric. “    

What it is: A weatherproof storage box that can hold just about anything you need for the day.

What it does: Protects gear from snow.

Why you need it: “It’s easy to leave something behind on the ice, so a storage box allows you to throw all the gear in there and keep it handy,” says Gary.    

What it is: A high, full coverage front windshield.

What it does: Provides protection from severe wind chill.

Why you need it: It provides comfort, but the safety feature is obvious, too.    

What it is: A downsized version of a full-featured GPS/fishfinder that can be mounted on an ATV.

What it does: Provides detailed Navionics mapping to show bottom details.

Why you need it: “I like this for the seven-inch screen, which is much smaller than what we typically mount on the boat,” Chase explains. “You can still swap it back and forth, and the battery life is much longer than a bigger unit.” He adds that this is an important consideration for an ATV-sized battery. 

What it is: A sturdy hitch system with adjustable lengths to accommodate different sizes and styles of fish houses and vehicles.

What it does: Prevents a sled or ice shanty from sliding back and forth or colliding with a stopping ATV.

Why you need it: “What I really like about it is the grab handle that allows you to pull the shelter back in place,” says Chase. “It just makes life easier and safer by keeping the sled or shelter from slamming into the vehicle or swaying too much.”


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