World Ice Fishing Championships XII

ice team

I got an early Christmas present this year. I was asked to be a tactician on the USA Ice Team and travel to Kuopio, Finland to compete in the 2015 World Ice Fishing Championships (WIFC). My good fishing buddy Chad Schaub has been a team member for several years and has traveled to Kazakhstan, Belarus and medaled in Wausau, Wisconsin. I have been super interested and always excited to hear the stories and see photos from his trips.

The World Ice Fishing Championship (WIFC) is a highly competitive international sporting event. Similar to the Olympics, teams from typically 10-15 countries come together to compete for the championship title.

The USA Ice Team represents the USA in world competitions and is an ambassador of American ice angling abroad. Just like other sports teams, the USA Ice Team is made up of several members holding different positions. These positions include anglers, tacticians, and coaches. The team also has several support personnel who help out both at home in the United States and on the road. Each position is critical to the team.

• Anglers: Anglers compete against other countries in a zone where only one representative from each country fishes under stringent guidelines. Two heats of five zones combine to produce a team’s total weight for scoring. There are no electronics or power augers.

• Tacticians: When the anglers are focusing on catching fish, with only a small palm rod equipped with a spring bobber and line often less than one pound test, they cannot afford to be watching what other fishermen are catching. The tactician’s job is to be a spotter, analyst and personal coach to the angler. Sometimes communicating in code and always remaining outside the competition zone, they utilize binoculars and data acquired from the practice sessions to guide their angler to fish and keep them informed of what other competitors are catching.

• Coaches: The team has several coaches who train the team, prepare and scout lakes for practices and qualifying heats as well as run the tryouts that determine who will be fishing on the team.

• Support Team: One of the critical members of the team is our translator. Dealing with a governing organization based in France and competing all over the world, communication is critical to understanding rules, officials, and other teams. We also travel with a media specialist. This year in Finland, we will be 7-8 hours ahead of West Michigan. Communicating back to our sponsors and fans is a critical part of maintaining the support network that the team relies on to financially and emotionally back the proud Americans of the USA Ice Team.

2015 brings us a new era of the USA Ice Team. Every team member strives to fulfill their role to put the USA Ice Team on the podium at the end of competition. The coaching staff has designed specific training plans, and each team member is working hard to prepare for the March event. Sponsors such as Frabill, Aqua-Vu, SunLine, Kahtoola, Shark, St. Croix, HT and Michigan’s own Stormy Kromer have stepped up to provide the team with gear and financial support. Many personal donations and fundraisers have also kicked in support. International travel is not cheap, and each competitor makes an extraordinary commitment to being part of the team.

If you would like to meet members of the team, join us on our Friday Night Fish Fry at Schmohz Brewery in Grand Rapids. We hold them every Friday in March from 5-8pm. The MI Ice Guys also have a private media feed where we will be posting stories, photos, and videos during our adventure to Finland for supporters to follow. You can find more information on or – Go USA!

ice team 2