In keeping with my own little tradition of promoting Michigan made products, here is the next product and company who could be making a big hit in the winter ice fishing market:
My ice fishing tournament partner John Bacarella, along with his business partner, Phil Morse have come up with the next bright idea in fishing mobility on the ice. Together they have formed their own company, Hard Water Innovations, and their first product being introduced is the Sonic Ice Hopper. It comes in two sizes to fit the different sized anglers. Guess that’s why I am fishing the XL sized one!
The unit is a bracket that slips over the edge of a 5, 6 or 7 gallon bucket, what I call pickle buckets because you can get them for free at any local Wendy, Burger King or Mickey-D’s. The bracket is designed to hold your Vexilar or MarCum flasher, the two most popular flashers on the market. Along with your flasher, there are rod holders available that mount on the unit as well.
Lots of folks will say, “Thats a pretty neat design, but why do I need it for ice fishing?” My answer to you after using the “ice hopper” all last week in Wisconsin is MOBILITY! Instead of trying to squeeze your flasher and bucket handle all in one hand while you carry your auger from hole to hole, you simply grab the bucket and auger and go on your way to the next spot.
Made from solid aluminum, the Sonic Ice Hopper is virtually indestructible. Supported by two brackets, the rig will keep your unit extremely stable while in transit, and also protected. While diving for a perch that came unhooked in my hole on tournament day, the unit had no problem handling my lunge to get that fish before it went down the hole.
Here are several pictures of John while finishing our prefish Saturday afternoon in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Notice he has three rod holders attached to his Ice Hopper, and a MarCum LX-5 mounted for his flasher. When John and I formed our team back in August, we were a rarity in the tournament ice world, we both had our individual sponsors that we brought to the table. So while John runs the LX-5, I use Vexilar’s premium FL-20 unit.
Notice the clear plastic lens that covers the unit’s cowl, these are available for all Vexilar and MarCum flashers.
As mentioned before, mobility is the key in ice fishing, and the less work you have to do to ensure that fact, the better off you will be.
Just look at your flasher while you fish directly below you.
Edit Note: I had a great question regarding balance of the rig vs the bucket this morning (Sunday). Its hard to tell with John’s bucket being black, but there is a strap that goes around the top of your bucket and on the backside there is a pouch that flips over the edge and rests in the interior. Inside that pouch is where you store your flasher battery, which also provides your counter weight for balance. Good question Tom!