Steve Sarley: Guides can add to ice fishing experience

Guide Tony Boshold provides ice fishermen the chance to spend a day on the ice with a World Ice Fishing Championship gold medalist and catch panfish like this giant.
Guide Tony Boshold provides ice fishermen the chance to spend a day on the ice with a World Ice Fishing Championship gold medalist and catch panfish like this giant.

I’ve talked a little bit about the basic items you will need to purchase in order to outfit yourself to venture out on an ice fishing expedition. I explained that it is fairly simple and can be inexpensive to get into it with the bare bones basics.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can go hog wild spending tons of cash on the latest high-tech gear. The problem is deciding how to make the move up in class when it comes to equipment. Do you need a power auger? Do you need electronics? What about a camera? Is an ice shelter a necessity? How important is a snowmobile or four-wheeler for toting all of your gear?

I wouldn’t try to answer those questions for you. It is a decision for you to make, and you should get all of the information before you do. You also should see the gear in action before you make the expenditure. The only way I know to do that is to spend a day on the ice with a guide.

Good guides have all of the latest ice equipment, and booking a trip with one of them is a terrific way to see the gear in action. In addition, you’ll have a great day on the ice and become better at your new sport in a day’s time.

There are a number of good ice guides working today, and I’ll introduce you to a couple that I like.

Tod Todd is from Kingston. Todd may be the most dedicated ice fisherman out there. Some seasons will find him with fishing licenses in his wallet from seven states and a Canadian province or two. Todd already has booked 1,400 miles traveling to ice spots so far this year and usually logs 10,000 miles in a season.

This year, he found ice and fished on Thanksgiving Day and has chased ice as late as May 5 in a year. The guy is dedicated. His motto is “You can’t catch ’em from the couch.”

Todd spends a lot of time donating trips to veterans groups and to charities for children. He was a huge help to Brent Beckwith for the years that Brent’s Walk on Water ice fishing derby was in existence.

I met Todd at a WOW event and spent time watching him traveling around the ice helping people catch more fish.

He really knew his stuff and did a great job of explaining the ins and outs of the sport. He was especially good with kids. His tips and explanation about using electronics was excellent.

Todd is a disciple of the legendary Dave Genz. His equipment is as good as it gets. He claims, “There is nobody out there who can match me as far as equipment goes.”

Todd is not out there chasing down new clients. As a matter of fact, it can be difficult to schedule a date with the man. Give him a call at 630-723-7418 and see if your schedules match up. If they do, it will be worth your time.

If you book a trip with Chicago’s Tony Boshold, you’ll be on the ice with a true champion. Boshold is a two-time North American Ice Fishing Champion (2005 and 2013) and a gold medalist at the World Ice Fishing Championship with the USA Ice Team in 2010.

Boshold has been an avid fisherman all his life but never had hit the ice until 2001.

“If you would have asked me to ice fish in 2000, I would have told you that you were crazy,” he said. He finally tried it and fell in love with it.

Boshold can handle taking out groups of 10 fishermen or more with no problem. He can take you out on many hot spots throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including the Fox Chain, Delavan Lake and Geneva Lake.

Boshold’s gear is nonpareil. He is fully outfitted with Otter insulated and heated shelters, Marcum electronics and St. Croix rods. He operates a snow machine and a quad. Boshold has it all.

“The Fox Chain has really come around,” he said. “The Chain is home to a lot more 15-inch crappies than a lot of people give it credit for.”

Boshold is tuned in to what is happening on the ice throughout the area, and he usually can put you on the hottest bite. Crappies, perch, bluegills, walleyes and northern pike are all in his wheelhouse. I’ve known Boshold for a long time. He is in demand all over the Midwest for speaking and teaching about ice fishing. I’m not sure if there is anyone out there who knows more about the sport.

You can reach Boshold at 630-483-6682. Check out his website at


Early winter fishing: There have been reports of some ice in varied locations. Some anglers tried Pistakee with only about an inch-and-a-half of ice. That is too thin for me. I won’t try to walk on the hard water without a minimum of 6 inches. As far as the Chain goes, the ice thicknesses vary from lake to lake. If one lake has 4 inches, don’t assume that the other lakes on the Chain do, as well.


Archery deer hunting: Through Monday, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested 51,025 deer, compared with 50,738 for the same period in 2017. The harvest for the past seven days was 2,918, with 611 deer taken Saturday and 403 taken Sunday. The harvest to date has consisted of 46 percent does and 54 percent males. The male harvest dropped significantly during the past seven days compared to the previous few weeks, making up 57 percent of the weekly harvest. Sixty percent of the harvest has been taken using compound bows, 39 percent by crossbows and 1 percent by traditional bows (longbows and recurves).

The top five counties for archery harvest as of Monday were Pike (1,729), Fulton (1,314), Jefferson (1,206), Adams (1,186), and JoDaviess (989). Totals for some northern Illinois counties are McHenry (464), Winnebago (406), Kane (249), Lake (237), Cook (99), DuPage (18), DeKalb (136), and Boone (115).

Future Fisherman Foundation: This is an excellent event that is run by quite an exceptional charity. The Future Fisherman Foundation, a 501(c) 3 foundation, is offering a chance to fish with two of the greatest legends of freshwater fishing this year. The winners of the trips will be the high bidders in a unique online auction.

If you’d be interested in a bass fishing trip, there will be no greater “dream trip” than fishing with the legendary Hank Parker. If your schedule is flexible and you can work around Hank’s busy TV and personal appearance schedule, this will be the trip of a lifetime for the winning bidder.

If you’re a crappie angler, the auction gets even better, as the country’s most famous crappie fisherman, “Mister Crappie” Wally Marshall, is offering the ultimate crappie trip. This two-day adventure in the Texas includes lodging and meals and promises to be one of the most awesome crappie adventures there is.

Shoppers also have a great opportunity to bid on 25 different guided fishing trips, as well as a very large selection of tackle packages and merchandise.

Proceeds from the annual event support F3 programs such as Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs, SuperFish and the Tackle for Educators programs.

The auction began Sunday and will run for seven days. Bidding closes at 7 a.m. Monday. Interested bidders should go to and click on the auction tab, then click on the eBay link to view the trips and merchandise and place your bids.

Patagonia donation: Here is a classy move. Outdoor clothing company Patagonia Inc. said the company plans on donating the $10 million it saved from federal tax cuts “back to the planet.”

Patagonia’s CEO, Rose Marcario, noted the company’s intentions to give the funds to nonprofit groups that focus on conservation and climate issues.

“We recognize that our planet is in peril,” Marcario wrote. “We are committing all $10 million to groups committed to protecting air, land and water and finding solutions to the climate crisis. We have always funded grassroots activism, and this $10 million will be on top of our ongoing 1% for the Planet giving.”

Steve Sarley writes about the outdoors for Shaw Media. Write to him at Steve does a weekly podcast about fishing called “WeFishASA.” You can find it at

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access and all Shaw Media Illinois content from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.