Although Tony Boshold “eats, sleeps and drinks fishing,” he used to take a winter break.
That was before a friend took him ice fishing in the early 2000’s and they caught “hundreds” of bluegills.
“I was hooked, just like that,” he says.
In the next several years, Boshold would compete in ice fishing tournaments across the U.S. and all over the world, winning the 2005 North American Ice Fishing Circuit (NAIFC) National Championship, competing in the 2009 World Ice Fishing Championship, and then helping the 2010 USA Ice Team win the first Gold Medal a U.S. fishing team has ever won in world competition.
Since then, he’s also been featured in the TV show “Ice Men,” begun guiding in and around his native Chicago and joined the ICE FORCE team. In addition to fishing tournaments, he makes numerous appearances at seminars and expos to share what he’s learned since fishing his first NAIFC championship in a rain suit, lugging around his gear in his son’s toy wagon.
“Yeah, they gave me a hard time about that!” he recalls, laughing. “I didn’t know anything then, and that wasn’t that long ago. ...But I really took to it.”
And how! A fishing fanatic since childhood, Boshold credits much of his ice fishing success to applying his open-water knowledge “in a way that ice fishermen don’t usually do,” and remembering lessons he learned back in his “shaved head, punk rock days” practicing skateboard tricks.
“You don’t get better by thinking you’re the best, you gotta’ hang out with people who are better than you,” he says. “We’d go to a spot and practice for hours the same trick over and over and over until you had it every time you did it. That kind of diligence of working on something until you got it.”
He also credits much of his success to his mentors, including Greg “the Prowler“ Wylczinski, inventor/designer of the Legend Ice Rod.
“A huge part of that is paying homage to your mentors and passing it on and sharing what you learn - you can’t take it with you!” he says. “I have seen all types who try to say they are self-taught and don’t give credit to anyone.”
Wylczinski’s “’The Prowler goes and gets them’ attitude is something he taught me and I definitely bring that out on the ice,” Boshold says.
He enjoys the opportunity ICE FORCE allows him to teach what he’s learned.
“I love competing, but I love the folks that come and thank me for teaching them something, too,” he says. “That is what makes it all worthwhile - the sacrifices of being on the road and cruising 10,000 miles for a season of ice fishing.”
He credits also the support of family and friends “to help make it all possible,” and says his ultimate goal, whether competing or teaching, is to give it his all.
“I want to be able to come home at night and look in the mirror and my son, Collin, and say ‘I did my best.’”