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Modern shelters from brands like Clam and Frabill provide comfortable digs while we’re dropping baits through holes in the ice. However, savvy hard-water pros know that enjoying extended periods of enclosed comfort often requires diligent searching on the front end.

Portable sonar units are standard equipment for the serious angler, but Minnesota guide Brian “Bro” Brohsdal wants eyes on his targets. He’ll drill a series of holes along contour lines, weed edges, and other fishy areas, and then take a peak at each spot with a handheld Aqua Vu underwater camera.

Spotting a school of crappie or bream is always cool, but as long as the habitat looks good he’ll give it time to produce. Obviously, the spots that immediately put scales on his screen merit focused attention.

Tournament pro Tony Boshold earned national and world ice fishing titles with his aggressive style and innovative techniques. His view: Active fish bite. Go find them.

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One of Boshold’s top tactics involves a traditional Marcum sonar unit, but he applies an additional twist, which he calls “side finding.”

“I use this technique in deeper water for suspended fish that are coming and going,” Boshold said. “As they appear and you catch some they will move on. As you notice them dissipate, grab the Marcum and gently swing the transducer side to side and back and forth.

“If you see the signal blinks in one direction or the other you can then head them off and drop in front of them and literally follow the school. You can send your friends to [productive] holes also.”

Sure, you can always camp out in a shelter and hope for the best, but why not keep the rods bent too? Put in some upfront legwork and reap the benefits in comfort.

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