It came with the force of a heavyweight boxer's haymaker; it left in its wake piles and piles of snow. What a mess the Christmas blizzard made here in northwest Iowa. It will definitely be one of those storms that will be the center of many a story.
For ice fishermen, fishing has become a real challenge, which is really sad because we had some of the best ice heading into Christmas that we have had in years.
So the struggle begins. First, accesses have been blown shut with mounds of snow. Thankfully some good Samaritans with blades are opening up some areas, but that's only the beginning.
SnoBear easily handles snow and ice.
Once to the ice, drifts of snow face the would-be angler. Those with snowmobiles have the upper hand, because snowmobiles far surpass four wheelers and vehicles at this point.
Of course, there are some brave souls walking out with an auger and a bucket. However, at my age, there are some real health risks with that mode of transportation.
At the same time, the sub-zero temperatures have helped crust the snow, which means that we won't sink as readily up to knee and thigh level.
If you do find a way to get to your fishing spot, I do have a word of caution. Don't drill your holes and then shovel the slush and snow away down to the ice. If you do, because of the weight of the snow, you will have a pool of water surrounding your fishing spot. So, remove some of the slush but not all of the snow and you should be ok.
If we were to get a good January thaw followed by a prolonged cold spell, we could get the snow melted down and everything frozen again. That would further help our ability to move around on the lakes.
If we were in the North Country we would see snow machines that transport anglers with ease to miles away destinations. One of the most common is the Bombardier, which depending on size can transport a whole group of people.
When the Christmas storm hit, I began to research options. Aside from the Bombardier, I was looking for something different.
Then on an Internet search, I discoverd the SnoBear, an all-in-one machine that transports and also serves as a motorized fish house. Designed by Tom Lykken, the SnoBear is manufactured in West Fargo, N.D.
SnoBear is powered by an EFI 4-cylinder four-stroke gasoline engine that generates a speed of up to 24 mph. With its automotive-style power steering and controls, automatic transmission, disc brakes, forced air heat, deluxe seating, carpeting, optional fold-down bunks and more, SnoBear is more like a top-of-the-line motorhome.
When you reach your fishing spot, all you have to do is to flip a switch and the unit lowers 14 inches-right down to the ice. With four fishing holes and slide-in/out insulators and covers, all you have to do is drill the holes and start fishing right from inside the insulated and heated SnoBear.
Exterior dimension is 87.25 inches wide, 209.85 inches long, while interior dimensions include 80 inches wide and 126 inches long.
It's got all the bells and whistles that a top-of-the-line permanent ice shack would have.
The front of the SnoBear is two skis while beneath the main cabin is a patented MaxTrax that will take it through everything from powdery snow, to huge drifts to slush.
The rear suspension has features, which reduces the build up of ice while operating in slush. While this does help, as with any winter suspension system, ice build up can still occur and must be watched carefully. Since the SnoBear will fit in a 7-foot garage door in the down position, thawing it out overnight occasionally is a good idea.
According to Lykken, a lot of SnoBear units are sold across Canada and the northern United States from North Dakota to Maine. After all, half of their year finds ice-covered lakes.
Costly? Yes, compared to a snowmobile or four-wheeler, but not as costly as one of those big walleye or bass boats, which with all of the bells and whistles will run $40,000 and more, for sure!
A new one will cost in the mid-to upper $30,000s. If you want to take a look at the SnoBear, go on their website at www.snobearuag.com.