As someone who is trying to make a leap into professional ice angling, I am spending as much time as possible researching tournament fishing techniques and making contacts to learn the “politics” involved.

That being said, I recently had the opportunity to talk with professional ice fishermen Chuck Mason and Justin Clark, and it was an eye opening experience to say the least.

Professional ice fishing angler Chuck Mason recently sat down with aspiring pro Joe Devera to talk ice fishing trick, tactics and techniques of the pros.

Professional ice fishing angler Chuck Mason recently sat down with aspiring pro Joe Devera to talk ice fishing trick, tactics and techniques of the pros.

I’m not going to lie, I thought I knew how to catch fish, but after a couple of hours one on one time with Chuck, I’m pretty sure that this first year on the tournament circuit is going to be grueling.

I was intimidated going in, I will admit it. Here is a world class ice fisherman willing to sit down with me at a local restaurant and let me pick his brain about competitive ice fishing, but Chuck made me feel at ease right off the bat asking me, “So what do you want to know?”

We talked a little bit of everything from plastics to techniques, matching colors and what-not.

With one of the bigger tournaments I will be attending being on Wamplers Lake in Brooklyn, MI, we spent a lot of time talking about that fishery. It’s close by and Chuck has fished it many times under tournament conditions. That information is invaluable to me.

He seemed somewhat impressed of the equipment I run for where I’m at in my “career” (the very beginning). He said I’m in better shape than he was when he started out, but light years away from where I want or need to be. But he never made me feel inferior, even if I was off base or ignorant of something.

He gave me some advice for a few things I will probably want to pick up before the season starts (type of rod, couple brand name accessories). He even gave me options between mid-level products or what he would buy including his list of go-to jig colors.

Examples of popular ice jig colors from Joe Devera.

Examples of popular ice jig colors from Joe Devera.

As we got more comfortable with each other we got to talking the history of the sport and where it stands today, as well as where he would like to see things go as far as on the competitive side of ice fishing.

I would love to be able to go into more detail, but was specifically asked to stay tightlipped on some things, and some things were tips or tricks that I had never heard before, and don’t really want to give them away until I see if they work myself ;-)

I left that initial meeting with his cell number and an invitation to get a hold of him anytime. It definitely felt like I made a friend. Though our schedules haven’t allowed for us to meet up again, I look forward to sitting down and picking his brain some more in the near future.

Sportsmens Direct store manager Justin Clark shows off a couple beautiful Lake St. Clair ice-caught panfish.

Sportsmens Direct store manager Justin Clark shows off a couple beautiful Lake St. Clair ice-caught panfish.

Then last week I had the opportunity to go up to Sportsmens Direct, a store owned by NAIFC pro John Bacarella, and while I didn’t meet with him, I did have the chance to talk to store manager Justin Clark. Probably a familiar name, as he writes for a variety of outdoor publications.

Though it wasn’t an arranged meeting, I got to spend about an hour with him talking mainly the ice industry and a lot about ice rods.

Being a newcomer to the circuit, and just being some guy who walked into the shop, obviously he had no idea who I was, but as we talked and I told him who I was and what I was trying to do and who I am involved with (sponsor’s and pro-staff, he’s heard of From The Blind) he became more interested and impressed with the steps I have taken thus far.

He seemed surprised that I took an online presence with my website,, and took a look at it while I was standing there, which was a little weird, but it allowed him to see that I’m serious. At that point he told me to keep checking back that the owner is always adding people to his pro-staff, and he supplies a lot of the guys on the circuit.

I’m finding these guys are part of an awesome community where everyone knows everyone, and so far they are welcoming the new guy with open arms, and with any luck, within a couple years everyone will know me too.

Until next time friends…

Filed Under: Ice Fishing Tips


Joe Devera About the Author: Joe DeVera is a tournament ice fisherman from Southeast Michigan. Gaining interest with his local newspaper and public access channel, Joe has had a chance to promote the sport of ice fishing on a limited basis and is excited at the opportunity to help grow the sport and the companies he represents. Working with various companies and websites Joe has had the opportunity to work various trade shows along with writing articles on a variety of ice fishing topics as well as several reviews. Giving back through education is important to Joe, therefore he is dedicated to giving seminars and making videos aimed at teaching tips and tricks through social media, Also donating his time with the NAIFC's Kids Camp as well as other youth oriented ice fishing events. As a member of the J&E Ice Fishing team, Joe spent the 2015 season honing his skills as a tournament angler on a small local circuit where he and his partner compiled five top 5 finishes, including two 3rd place as well as “Big Gill” award. Fishing the NAIFC series, Joe and partner Bill Banghart have two top 10 finishes and consecutively finished in the top 15 in Team of the Year points the past two seasons.

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