Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stay warm on the ice with Otter fish shacks

Mike Schneider, a pro staffer with Mark Martin's Ice Fishing Vacation Schools is always on the move. Besides driving his snowmobile onto the ice at Lake Cities Lake Missaukee, he's constantly checking his GPS and Navionics lake map to be sure he is on the spot he wants to be.
Once on the spot, he takes no time in setting up his Otter style Cottage fish shack. The Otter line of portable shanties is different from any other I've fished in.
First, they go up easy and quick which means a lot when it's bitter cold and windy. The place you want to be is inside something with walls to block the wind and provide some warmth.
All Otter models provide warmth through a unique blending of seamless stitching and insulation.
If you think a portable shanty can't be insulated you haven't sat in an Otter.
The insulation not only makes it warmer than non-insulated shacks, but the noise of wind blowing and other machines passing by is muffled.
Once holes are cut to fish from or hang electronics, light your propane heater, be sure the door is closed and zipped, then sit down on one of the bucket or bench seats.
In a matter of minutes you'll be looking around for a place to hang your heavy Ice Armor coat because the warm temperature doesn't take long to make the shack comfy.
Because of a unique sewing method, there are no outside seems to leaks or allow wind in. These Otters are tight.
But back to Schneider. Once he has the shack up, holes drilled and cleaned and heater running, he's on to rods, which lure to use and bait selection.
"Keep it just off the bottom," he says, "then jig softly and let it sit for a minute." Constantly observing and offering constructive suggestions, Schneider feels one of his objectives should be putting students on fish.
But sometimes the fish don't cooperate no matter the experience, type of lure or method of presentation. That's another reason it's called fishing.
In my opinion, Mike Schneider is one of the top pro staffers who constantly makes it his business to see  to it that students are comfortable with what they are doing, know why they do it, and correcting any of the mistakes they make.
Martin's net ice fishing school is set for Saginaw Bay, February 7-10. If you go, ask for Schneider to be your guide.  You'll learn a lot and won't be sorry.
Visist www.markmartisicefishingvacation schools.com.

Mike Schneider pointing out one of Otter's new Dome shacks. by Beukema

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Gaylord-home of Elk Viewing and Treetops Gourmet food for Skiers

With thin snow around Michigan, even the snow belts city of Gaylord was finding it strange not to have plenty of the white stuff around. The last few years with heavy snowfalls have made us expect plenty for winter activities.
By late Saturday night and into Sunday, phones were ringing off the hook at local ski resorts. Callers were inuring about snow depths and making reservations for snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing and all else having to do with snow sports.
The group I was with wound up show shoeing the Aspen Trail just outside of Gaylord proper. By mid-morning Saturday our group from the Michigan Winter trails had decided against cross country skiing, tubing or downhill skiing.
Many opted for hiking or strapping on the snowshoes in nearly 40-degree temperatures and light rainy.
Following our two-mile trail walk, we stopped to view elk in a 100-acre enclosure near Aspen Trail.
If you've not seen elk you will be amazed at their size, especially the bulls with huge racks.
All of that changed about 7p.m. Saturday night when the predicted snowstorm dumped nearly a foot on area slopes and trails.
our sleigh ride-in this case wagon ride-courtesy of Tree Tops resort, out to Project Nature and our dinner destination was enjoyable during the heavy snowfall.
We were treated to a gourmet 4-course dinner culminating in a snowy ride back to Treetops.
For more information on Treetops Skiable feast or Wilderness Sleigh Ride Gourmet Dinners visit treetops.com or call (877)TREETOPS.
Trail and other resort information can be found at mywintertrails.com.
Photo be Beukema of bull elk