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ice fishing family in tent

Let’s Go! Best Ice Fishing Locations For Your Family

Nothing builds family relationships quite like drilling holes and catching fish together on the freezing ice!

Wait, what?

Yes! Ice fishing is a fun, relaxed activity to do alone, but it’s really great when the whole family can take part. 

It can be nearly impossible to find good ice fishing spots in some parts of the country, considering the sub-tropical climate. But, if you’re willing to take a bit of a fishing road trip with the family, here are some of the best ice fishing locations for your family that are worth the trip. 

Pactola Reservoir, Deadwood, South Dakota 

Fishing at Pactola Reservoir is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and not just because you may catch a trophy fish!  

Beneath the water, at a depth of 150 feet, lie the remains of an old mining town. This old town has now become home to a variety of fish species, including Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Yellow Perch and Trout. 

mother and son hold yellow perch while ice fishing
Don’t let the cold keep you from experiencing the thrill of ice fishing. There are several great ice fishing locations in the U.S. you can travel to for ice fishing adventure!

When ice fishing here, challenge your family members to see who can catch the largest fish for the day. If you’re lucky, you may catch the Lake Trout that sets a new state record! 

Lake Erie, Ohio 

Ice fishing on one of the Great Lakes should be on every angler’s bucket list. Lake Erie is a great place to take the family ice fishing. 

You can hire a licensed ice guide, who’ll take you to the best ice fishing spots, where your chance of catching Large Walleye and Perch are good. They’ll also be able to advise you on the fishing regulations in the area, which are very strict. 

The guide will also know the migration patterns of the fish, and will have all the necessary equipment to make your family’s ice fishing trip enjoyable and memorable. 

Silver Lake, California 

Tucked away in the Golden State, sitting snug at the foot of Carson Peak, is an angler’s paradise. Silver Lake provides fishing year-round, but ice fishing here is a unique experience. 

Every member of your family will be able to ice fish for Lake Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout or Cutthroat Trout. With such a large variety of trout, it could be a close contest to see who catches the biggest fish of the day. 

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland 

Deep Creek Lake has a winter activity for every member of the family, from cross-country skiing and sledding to ice skating. One of the more popular activities is ice fishing, as the lake contains a variety of fish. 

northern pike caught ice fishing
Northern Pike are just one of the many species of fish you can catch while ice fishing on Deep Creek Lake in Maryland.

The family will be able to pick and choose which fish they want to catch, as there are plenty of Walleye, Northern Pike, Trout, Bass, Yellow Perch, Bluegill, Sunfish, Pickerel and Crappie. Here you can challenge your family to see who catches the most fish on the day. 

If you’re looking for a slight advantage over the rest of your loved ones, then fish where the water is the warmest and keep your fishing line close to the bottom of the lake. This is where you’ll find the fish! 

Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin 

For an experience that every member of your family will remember, head to Lake Winnebago. While you can fish for Perch, Crappie, Northern Pike, Walleye, Bass, Bluegill and Muskies, it’s the huge Sturgeon that are the main attraction. 

You can expect to catch Sturgeon up to 80 inches long, and weighing up to 140 pounds! Finding the Sturgeon may be the easiest part of the day, but getting them to bite is a whole different story. 

If you want a great story to tell, then make sure that you use a braided line with a weight capacity of up to 100 pounds. Sturgeon put up a fight that can last for an hour, and the last thing you want is for your line to break

kids ice fishing with dad holding fish
Ice fishing trips with family can make for some unforgettable moments!

Chambers Lake, Colorado 

If your kids are old enough to handle some winter hiking, then fishing at Chambers Lake will be a great outdoor family experience. Start your hike at Inlet Bay, as this will lead you to one of the best trout fishing spots on the lake. 

Anglers can catch large Lake and Rainbow Trout between 14 and 20 inches in length. You may even find a Kokanee Salmon on the end of your line, especially if you’re fishing with jigs. 

There are also tent camping sites on Lake Chambers.

One of the best things about planning an ice fishing trip to Chambers Lake is that it will often stay frozen until late March. 

Devil’s Lake, North Dakota

Have you or your loved ones ever caught more than one trophy fish in a day? If not, then add Devil’s Lake to your ice fishing bucket list. 

You’ll find that Devil’s Lake is home to a variety of fish, including Black Crappie, Northern Pike, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill and Brown Trout. 

Every member of your family will stand a good chance of catching a trophy Northern Pike, Walleye or a Perch, all on the same day! The lake is frozen from December until March, and depending on your travel plans, you can choose to get either a 3-day or 10-day fishing license

black crappie and bluegill ice fishing
Black crappie and bluegill can both be caught on Devil’s Lake, during the ice-over from December to March.

Just make sure that each member of your family has their fishing license on them at all times, in case they need to show it to the authorities. 

Conclusion 

If you’ve fished as a family before, you’ll know how the activity can make for a great day out, and some close family bonding

If  you love the bonding experience of fishing together, ice fishing as a family should be on your joint bucket list. 

Even if there aren’t any ice fishing spots near your location, you can make a trip of it. Why not take a weekend, go on a trip to a new place, and see which family member can catch the most fish, while sipping hot chocolate on the ice? 

Hopefully, you have learned about some of the best ice fishing locations.

If you want to get away from the cold entirely, you can always take a family trip to a warm weather destination, but we recommend giving ice fishing a try at least once. You may just fall in love with it! And if you go, we hope you put a hook N1!

Kenneth Reaves, of the Perfect Captain.
FOC calculator header image

FOC Calculator | Easily find Front-Of-Center of your hunting arrows

You may have heard other bowhunters talk about the “FOC” of their hunting arrows.

But, what does FOC mean and how can you easily calculate it?

If you already know the length and balancing point of your arrow, you can use the FOC Calculator below to quickly find the % of your arrow’s weight that is Front-Of-Center!

FOC (Front Of Center) | Calculator
Arrow length from end of arrow shaft to the bottom of the nock groove (L)
inches
Distance from balance point to the bottom of the nock groove (A)
inches
FOC (Front Of Center):
0 %

What does FOC stand for?

“FOC” stands for Front-Of-Center (Or Forward-Of-Center) and refers to the percentage of an arrow’s overall weight that is forward of the balancing point, or, “center” of the arrow.

How to calculate FOC using a formula

You might like the FOC calculator but also want to learn how to calculate FOC using a formula.

The formula to calculate an arrow’s FOC is:

100 x (Balance Point measurement [A] – Arrow Length [L]) / 2.

To use this formula, you will first need to measure the arrow’s overall length as well as finding the balance point measurement.

foc equation graphic
Once you have found the arrow length (A) and balance point (B) measurements, use the formula above to find the FOC of your hunting arrow.

Finding the arrow’s length

To find your arrow’s length for the purposes of calculating FOC, you need to be sure you measure correctly.

Measure your arrow from the end of the arrow (where the broadhead/point screws in) to the bottom of the throat of the nock (see diagram above).

Once you have your arrow length measurement, you need to measure the balancing point…

How to find the “balance point” of an arrow

To find the balance point of your hunting arrow, first be sure you have already installed your nocks, vanes, inserts and broadheads/points onto your arrow.

balance point FOC diagram
To calculate FOC, you first need to find the “balance point” of your hunting arrow.

Using a triangular block of wood, find the exact place that your arrow balances perfectly. (If you don’t have a triangular block, you can also balance the arrow on your finger).

Once you have found the balance point of your arrow, measure from that point to the throat of your nock. This will be your balance point measurement.

Conclusion

Once you have measured your arrow’s length and balancing point, you can use the formula provided in the diagram above to calculate the FOC of your arrow.

Certainly bowhunters want to be the best they can be so that they can get an ethical kill. But, when it comes to FOC, there are varying opinions on whether higher or lower FOC is better.

Some bowhunters want an arrow with a lower FOC so that the arrow is as fast as possible. The intent is often to keep the deer or game from “ducking the string.”

Others want an arrow that has a higher FOC %, so that the arrow hits the animal with a heavier impact. This tends to increase the odds of a “pass-through” shot. This can be helpful to increase the chances of a mortal wound in the event you encounter bone or other stiff tissue that might impede the arrows progress.

iron will broadheads on arrows

Iron Will Broadheads | An In-Depth Analysis

By: John Lusk

My purpose in this review was to find out how the Iron Will Outfitters broadheads perform when it comes to penetration and durability.

iron will broadhead and hand made box
The hand-made box gives the Iron Will broadheads a head-start in visual excellence.

The Original Iron Will Broadhead | Beauty In A Box

I have never held a broadhead and felt like I was about to propose. But, that’s just what I felt like when I received the Iron Will Outfitters broadheads.

The hand-made box that each broadhead comes in is the definition of quality. The broadhead lies flat in the box on a felt background. It’s really impressive.

But enough about the box, it was time to start checking out and testing the broadheads themselves.

Firstly, even to the eyes, the Iron Will broadhead screams quality. I have tested many broadheads and there are some that you can hold before testing and just know, “this isn’t going to be very good.” However, the broadheads from Iron Will made me go, “OK. This is top tier for sure.”

You are paying for them to be top tier, so you would expect them to be. But, these broadheads literally fit the bill.

To go straight to the testing for each broadhead, click the appropriate link below:

Head Design And Construction

The Iron Will broadhead is made of A2 Tool Steel that has been triple heat-tempered as well as cryogenically tempered to produce incredible hardness.

It has Rockwell hardness of 60 but also has an incredible resistance to impact.

iron will broadhead in box
You may feel like there’s a diamond inside the Iron Will Outfitters box, but it’s just a precision-crafted piece of archery beauty.

Its Charpy C-Notch score is multiple times higher than a typical stainless steel. So, it has a really good resistance to impact and it has a fairly good resistance to wear which will make a difference on edge retention. The bottom line is that it is top-notch steel.

Another thing I like is that it is a “cut on contact” tip, which aids in penetration. It has two larger blades followed by two smaller bleeder blades. Both the main blades and the bleeders are really thick (0.063 inches). All the blades are replaceable as well, which is nice. It also has a solid steel ferrule.

When you take a look at the tip of the broadhead itself, you’ll notice it has a chisel tip, even though it’s a 2-blade head. The chisel tip provides extra lateral strengthening as the ferrule goes up high towards the tip.

>> Find other great hunting and fishing designs from N1

The Trade-Offs

There are a few things about the Iron Will broadhead that are not my favorite. These are observations regarding design.

First of all, with the 2-blade tip and the A2 steel, the benefit is that you are going to get great penetration. But, you’re not going to get the lateral support that you would get with a real chisel tip or a 3-blade tip where all 3 blades come together. It structurally cannot be as supportive. So, while it’s a plus for penetration, it’s a minus on durability and hard impact.

iron will broadhead diagram
The anatomy of the Iron Will Outfitters solid broadhead.

And, then the protruding ferrule… again, there’s a plus to it in that it strengthens the blade going up pretty high. But, it has a little bit of a lip to it, and I can imagine that it could get stuck, not on flesh but maybe on bone, if it splits bone or a hard material.

Additionally, it’s a component head. And again, this is a trade-off. So it’s several pieces. The set screw has no tension on it that would go against the arrow itself and into the ferrule. But, you have multiple pieces.

Now, the plus side of that is that each piece can be stamped, ground and hardened to extremely high specifications with fine-tuned machining. The negative the the multiple pieces is that, in theory, is, it’s just not going to be as strong as a one-piece broadhead, especially a CNC machined head.

Iron Will (Original) Flight

In addition to the appearance and construction, I like the flight. I got to shoot these out to a hundred yards and it is extremely forgiving. I’ll put the Iron Will up there with the best heads I’ve ever shot in terms of forgiveness, if not the best.

I can pop balloons with this broadhead at 60, 80, and 100 yards fairly readily, and it groups extremely well.

But, how would the Iron Will perform in penetration, durability and hard-impact testing? I decided to test it against the best-selling 3-blade head on the market: The G5 Montec.

>>Nside Nformation on the N1 Outdoors apparel designs

Penetration and Durability | Iron Will (Original) vs. G5 Montec

In my first penetration test, shot the Iron Will Outfitters broadhead into about 60 layers of cardboard with a Rinehart target behind it just in case.

iron will broadhead in cardboard
The Iron Will broadhead penetrated further into the layered cardboard than the G5 Montec.

Penetration Test #1: Layered Cardboard

First, I tested the G5 Montec broadhead and then the Iron Will.

For the first penetration test, the Iron Will shined. It penetrated a couple of inches further into the cardboard than the Montec.

For that first penetration test, you really can see that the penetration of the Iron Will shined. It went through 7 layers of cardboard, which was about 1-1/4 inch further than the Montec. Afterwards, the Montec’s blades just slid right across my fingernail. They obviously had been dulled. However, the Iron Will still bit into my fingernail. That’s A2 Steel for you.

Penetration Test #2: Compressed Fiberboard

iron will broadhead vs montec in fiberboard
The Iron Will also penetrated further into fiberboard than the G5 Montec.

In the second penetration test, I shot both broadheads through three layers of compressed fiberboard.

The Montec has a diameter of 1-1/6 inches as does the Iron Will. But the Iron will also has 0.75 inches in the cross bleeders. The Montec has only three blades. So, the Iron Will has roughly 1.8 inches of cutting cut, versus 1.6 for the G5 Montec.

Even with the larger cut of the Iron Will, it buried about a 1/2 inch further than the G5 Montec.

So, even with a larger cuts of animal tissue, you would be getting deeper penetration into soft material as well as hard material.

After this test, the Montec was again already dulled somewhat and would not catch on my fingernail. The Iron Will, even after this second test, shaved my fingernail and was still sticky.

Additionally, the Montec ferrule bent during the test and wobbled during spin, whereas the Iron Will still spun true.

Durability Test #1: 16-Gauge Steel

Iron will broadheads through 16 gauge steel plate
Iron Will broadhead penetrating a 16 gauge steel plate

For the durability test, I shot the Iron Will into a 16 gauge steel plate.

The Iron Will had good penetration into the steel plate, but the top of the ferrule got stuck somewhat and was slightly chipped away. (Other broadheads that I have shot into the steel plate have suffered significant damage).

The tip of the broadhead held pretty firm. There was a little bit of a dent on it, but not as much as was expected. The Iron Will did really well compared to all the other fixed blades I’ve tested on the steel plate. The only one that has tested better is the Bishop Holy Trinity, with its 3-blade design of S7 Tool Steel.

The bleeders got a little thinned out and dinged up, but can be replaced.

Durability Test #2: Cinder Block

For this test, I shot another Iron Will broadhead into a cinder block to see how it performed on hard impact.

The Iron Will penetrated well into the cinder block. The bleeder blades did not make it into the block, so it was a relatively small area, but penetration nonetheless. The head got dinged up and the ferrule was cut, but still spun well post-testing.

Durability Test #3: Steel Flat Bar

For this final test, I shot the Iron Will at a 1/8-inch fixed steel flat bar. I have shot other heads into this flat bar before and the only ones to survive it have been the Bishop Holy Trinity.

The Iron Will made made a nice cut in the bar and actually penetrated the other side. The ferrule we talked about was actually embedded into the steel bar.

The head itself did not fare too well. It also did not penetrate far enough for the bleeders to touch. The blades just disappeared; I’m not sure where they went, but they are somewhere in my backyard. While the Iron Will punched a hole in the steel bar, it didn’t endure it.

The Iron Will Wide Solid Broadhead

Iron Will also makes a WIDE version of it’s original solid broadhead. It sports a 30% greater cut than the original.

The blades, as in all of the Iron Wills, are 0.062 inch thick. The ferrules are made out of a grade 5 titanium. This is a really stout titanium that is stronger than many steels, but a lightweight material which allows it to keep the weight down to 150 grains, even in this solid model.

I tested the Wide Solid for long distance flight, edge sharpness and edge retention, for penetration, and for durability. Let’s see how the Wide Solid performed.

Iron Will solid and wide solid broadheads
Here’s a good look at the Wide Solid in 150 grains. It has a cutting diameter of 1-3/8 inches x 3/4 of an inch (30% greater than the original solid). For comparison, the original solid is shown as well.
iron will wide solid edge retention test
I made this edge retention test a bit challenging. After every two strokes of an Easton HEXX shaft over the edge, I did a push paper test over the blades. I gave 2 points for every time it cuts paper after every two strokes.
Iron Will wide solid cutting paper in test
The Wide Solid cut paper after 10 strokes of the arrow.
iron will wide solid vs solid ballistic gel test
In the ballistic gel penetration test, the Iron Will Wide Solid penetrated 7 inches and the double bevel Solid penetrated 7 and 3/4 inches.
Iron Will Wide solid cardboard penetration test
In the cardboard penetration test, the tip of the Iron Will Wide Solid penetrated through the 51st layer. The Iron Will Solid with bleeders cut through 60 layers.
iron will wide solid steel plate test
I shot the Iron Will Wide Solid through a .22 gauge steel plate five times. Here’s the Wide Solid after going through the steel plate 5 times. You can see it’s still in excellent shape. It basically looks brand new. And, it makes very nice holes. You can see those bleeders just widened that hole up and made a really make a nice oval cut. That’s going to create some serious blood-letting.
iron will wide solid broadhead after going through cinder block
Here is the Wide Solid after the fifth shot through the steel plate and then after being shot into the concrete and it still spun very well. So, this head went through a lot (steel plate PLUS broke the concrete in half after the third shot). And, you can see the tip did not curl and that main blade did not bend at all. Impressive.

The Wide Solid by Iron Will is a fantastic head. I’ve always really liked the Wide 125-grain vented version but I like this one even more.

Iron Will Single-Bevel Solid Broadhead

Iron Will also has a single-bevel solid head. They have a 2-blade, as well as one with bleeder blades.

The one with the bleeder blades adds and additional ¾ of an inch of cut.

The bevel angle of these heads is 32 degrees. The thickness of the blades is 0.062 inch thick. The ferrules are made out of a grade 5 titanium.

And it’s interesting with all the Iron Wills that use that titanium ferrule, the blades are completely interchangeable. So, you can interchange the double bevels. You can interchange the Wide series. You can interchange them with any of the heads that use that titanium ferrule.

The blades themselves are made out of an A2 tool steel. They are brought to a Rockwell hardness of 60, which is extremely hard which allows them to get really, really sharp, a fine edge on them.

Because the blades are made of the A2 tool steel, they have an incredible resistance to impact. That’s especially important with a single bevel, because as the head rotates, there’s a lot of pressure that is put on the blade’s leading edge in the rotation.

iron will single bevel solid broadheads
This is the 125-grain version of the Iron Will single-bevel solid broadhead. They’ve got a 2-blade and then also one with bleeders (both shown above). They both have a cutting diameter of 1 and 1/6 inches. It has the bleeders. The bleeders on the 4-blade add an extra 3/4 of an inch cut. The beveled edges on these heads aids in rotation during flight.

In stainless steel or carbon steel broadheads, you’ll often see an edge chatter, or bumps or dents that are in that leading edge as they hit a hard substance. But, given the resistance to impact of this steel, that really should not be an issue.

So, I was eager to put these to the test. I tested them for long distance flight, for edge sharpness and edge retention, for penetration, and for durability. Let’s see how these single bevel Solids performed.

single bevel iron will broadheads in target
Here are the two single-bevel heads at 70 yards, aiming for that lower left circle. As you can see, they grouped really well. Really great flying heads.

iron will single bevel cutting paper
The Iron Will Single Bevel cut paper after 10 strokes of the arrow.
iron will single bevel broadheads in ballistic gel
The Single Bevel without bleeders penetrated 8-1/4 inches. The one with bleeders penetrated 7 and 1/8 inches.
iron will single bevel broadheads after cardboard test
The Iron Will Single Bevel with bleeders cut through the 54th layer of cardboard. The Iron Will Single Bevel with no bleeders penetrated through the 56th layer. Both of the Iron Will single-bevel heads rotated just about 40 degrees, almost identical rotation.
iron will single bevel broadheads after steel plate test
Here, you can see a really good look at the wound channel that’s created by these single bevels. Here, the 2-blade is just your classic S-cut, nice hole. And then here with the bleeders, a nice S-cut going both directions. I’m really glad they made the bleeders single bevel as well, because that is a wicked-looking wound channel. Wow! And as for the heads themselves, you see here in the 2-blade, you literally can’t even tell it has been shot, let alone through steel plate. The onee with the bleeders got a bit more of a rotation and got a little bit more dinged up on the edges. But it’s almost entirely cosmetic.
iron will single bevel embedded in cinder block
The Single-Bevel just embedded in the concrete during the cinder block test.
iron will single bevel after going through cinder block
Here’s the head after going through the concrete. The tip did not curl at all and it held up really well and still spun true. (Since the concrete would keep the bleeders from impact, I did not shoot the 4-blade head into the concrete, since it’s essentially the same head).  

Conclusion

The Iron Will was very forgiving, flying very well at long range out to a hundred yards.

In the penetration testing, it out-penetrated the G5 Montec, which has a smaller cut than the Iron Will does. The head also did really well against the 16-gauge steel plate. It did better than all the other fixed plates I’ve tested with the exception of the Bishop Holy Trinity.

And then in terms of a concrete or the cinder block, it did really well, sticking deeply into the block with the two main blades, remaining strong.

The Wide Solid and the Single-Bevels also performed amazingly well.

The only place that the original failed (and you can’t really call it a failure) was when it was shot into the 8-inch steel flat bar, where it just kind of fell apart.

But overall, I have to give this head an A+. I put these broadheads up there towards the very top.

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