He is about as even keeled at they get, ice fishing soothsayer Brad Hawthorne. Fair. Balanced. Runs one impressive guide service on Minnesota’s Mille Lacs, too. But Jiminy Crickets, is the red bearded ice-man a serious thorn in the sides of fish, especially when operating from overhead on the ice.
The confident but humble Hawthorne cut his angling teeth like many under the tutelage of a trusted elder. But it’s what he did with the education and experience that sets Hawthorne aside. “Just thinking about my Grandpa drives me to fish harder, fish better. He’s my idol.”
Hawthorne’s childhood fishing-infusion led him to a career in the sport. At the greenhorn age of only 19, he dipped both hands in the minnow bucket and bought a bait shop. Not long into the proprietorship, though, he recognized that, yes, anglers need waxworms and fatheads, but what the Twin Cities area really lacked were suburbanized fishing guides. So for $100 a day, he’d put people on city ice... and fish. (Don’t get any crazy ideas, though, and think inflationary adjustments haven’t raised his rate a touch.)
Since then, Hawthorne has physically moved the show to Mille Lacs, where he now resides lakeside, putting people on fish 80 to 120 days a year. About that same time, some nine years ago, he formed a relationship with the new smart kid on the block, Ice Force’s MarCum Technologies, the unchallenged leader in ice fishing sonar and underwater cameras. And he hasn’t set down the familiar red bags since.
“He’s been with us since the beginning,” says MarCum brand manager Jon Marshall. “Hawthorne tested the early gear and continues coming to the table with ideas that keep MarCum way out in front when it comes to technology and quality.
“But it might be Hawthorne’s online presence and social media skills that really earn the gold star.”
Hawthorne calls the original brave new world of electronic communications “forum land.” It’s where for season after season he shared fishing reports, tactical tips and offered up reliable product recommendations. “I think the internet is where I really established my credibility,” acknowledges Hawthorne.
While the forums remain relevant and informative, Hawthorne is routing serious energy in the direction of social media outlets like Facebook and YouTube. “I posted my first ‘flip video’ on YouTube back in 2010. And it wasn’t long before the clip had over 2,000 views. I was sold.”
Today, he posts valuable nuggets of information with frequency on YouTube and Facebook, all while maintaining a presence on ice fishing forums. Hawthorne’s current online project - “Hooked on Fishing” - will spin off into the hardwater specific “Hooked on Ice” this winter. There, you’ll find a real fishing-show-formatted program, but one you don’t have to check the TV times watch - it’ll breathe continuously online.
Expect to see more of Ice Force’s Hawthorne in coming years. He’s representative of the new breed of fishing educators who utilize the digital universe to promote fishing. And Ice Force is pleased to have him in basecamp.