Frabill knows ice fishing. From shanties, to tip-ups, to clothing, Frabill has been a part of my hardwater fishing adventures for years. The addition of the FXE Snosuit Gauntlet Mittens to their arsenal proves the company is focused on providing ice anglers the best gear to battle the elements in an unforgiving sport.
I was lucky enough to receive these mittens completely FREE courtesy of the Outdoor Blogger Network and Frabill. I’m not associated with either entity and no cash was provided to me to sway my opinion. Every product review on my blog is based on personal use of the product in the field or on the water. Usually, I purchase the product then let you know how it performed. In this case, I won the chance to review this product through a randomized and weekly drawing for new gear on OBN. If you haven’t already, check out their site at www.outdoorbloggernetwork.com. You’ll love it. Here’s how I put these mittens to the test.
I could hear the wind howling on the other side of my bedroom window. It was eerily gloomy as the streetlight reflected off the falling snow. Cutting through the darkness was a glowing beacon of annoyance. My cell phone had fallen off the nightstand and under the bed. I struggled to reach it in time to shut off the alarm without waking up my better half. I laid there for a good ten minutes reconsidering my plans for the day. I could stay here, sleep in, maybe go to the gym, watch football. I quickly came to “my senses”. How could I stay in bed when Walleye, Pike and Bluegill were just swimming out there waiting to be caught? Besides, I had some new gear to test out.
At least 4 cars spun-out in front of me as I made my way to Pinckney, MI. I was to start my day with another famous “suicide mission” planned by the one and only Dustin. His plans generally include me hauling gear for long distances, sweating up my clothes, then sitting there as the sweat slowly freezes waiting for a fish to bite or a duck to settle in the spread. This day was no different. The plan was for ME to walk a good 1.5 miles on the snow covered ice. Meanwhile, he would drag the shanty with the trusty “50”.
Old #69 is a good little bike.
I stepped onto the lake and the wind smacked my face like a snowball filled with gravel and ice. The wind whipped up snow that had fallen just hours before. I was trapped in a snow globe. And whoever was shaking it was mad as hell.
The wind cut through my sweatshirt and right to my skin. I kept walking. Slowly, I could feel myself breaking a sweat. I kept walking. By the time I got to the middle of the lake I could hardly see the shore in any direction. The flying snow stung my face. I could feel it freezing to my beard. Everything was cold except my hands in those mittens. I kept walking.
A good 45 minutes after I started the trek, we arrived at a sunken island. Dustin’s tip-up was completely spooled by some monster fish in that very spot only a week ago. There was a score to settle. We augured a few holes and set the lines in varying depths from 15 to 45 feet of water.
For anyone who’s tried tip-up fishing, you’ve suffered with freezing hands. You need to pull your mittens off to tie knots and bait the hook. As soon as your hands get wet they begin to freeze as solid as the ice you’re standing on. They burn and sometimes just quit working all together. This is the moment of truth for a good pair of ice fishing gloves. My hands were literally steaming as I pulled them from the sweaty Frabill mittens. The water in the bait bucket made me shudder as I picked out a monster sucker minnow and put him on the treble hook. I set the tip-up on the ice, wiped my hands off on my bibs and stuck them back into the mittens. Within about one minute my hand was warm and comfortable. I couldn’t believe it. Even though they were wet on the inside they still managed to trap any heat my hand was emitting. These mittens are like furnaces for your paws.
We sat in in the shanty as the wind picked up trying to stay warm. My clothes were totally sweat soaked but my hands felt great. We each cracked a beer. Then a flag went up.
I ran to the tip-up as the spool was screaming. I’ve never seen anything like it. Dustin urged me to grab the line and start the battle. I was a little hesitant because I thought I left a 6lb mono leader on that rig. I grabbed the line. The fish shook his massive head twice and cut the line. Damn it.
Retreating to the shanty I was defeated. We jigged for panfish for a few more hours and took turns digging out the tip-ups from the drifting snow. We didn’t get another strike. My close friend Dirty Bert met us out there for about an hour. The wicked wind and self-deprecating hike helped him to conclude that our plan was crazy. We packed up and headed to another lake to try for some gills as the sun set.
The afternoon trip was a bit more enjoyable. The wind died down, the walk was much shorter and the gills cooperated.
We put 17 keepers on the ice including a bonus perch. I got to battle with a couple decent largemouths but never set the hook on a single gill. Oh well. At least my hands were warm.
I celebrated MLK Day with more friends, the Penders, and another excursion targeting pike and perch on Orchard Lake in Metro Detroit. It was cold and windy but after that adventure on Saturday it didn’t seem so bad. I slimed up with my new mittens with this little pike caught on a tip-up just after lunch.
The last hour of daylight I spent hunched over a “window” into the lake with a weighed pitchfork in my hand. I have yet to spear a pike but it’s on my to-do list. There’s just something awesome about peering into a giant hole in the ice as the sun goes down. What a great way to spend a winter day in Michigan.
A lot of work. A few fish. It’s safe to say that ice fishing pretty much kicked me in the mouth the past few days. But these trips cemented a place for the Frabill FXE Snosuit mittens among the rest of my favorite gear for ice fishing. Not that the Vexilar would ever get jealous.
Check out these mittens and other great products from Frabill at www.frabill.com