Ice Fishing Guru

Comprehensive Guide to Ice Fishing Equipment

Are you ready to take your fishing skills to the next level? Look no further than ice fishing!

Ice fishing is not just a hobby; it’s an adventure that allows you to embrace the frozen wonderland and reel in some impressive catches.

In this comprehensive guide to ice fishing, we will delve into the essentials of this unique sport, from choosing the right gear to mastering the art of drilling through thick ice.

Get ready to discover the best techniques, tips, and tricks to thrive on the ice and make your ice fishing trips unforgettable!

II. Essential Ice Fishing Equipment

Ice fishing requires specialized gear to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience. In this section, we will provide an overview of the essential equipment needed for ice fishing and take an in-depth look at specific items such as ice fishing rods, reels, ice augers, tip-ups, and ice scoops. We will also explore gear modifications and adaptations that can enhance your performance in freezing temperatures and challenging conditions.

A. Overview of Essential Ice Fishing Gear

Before diving into the specifics, let’s start with a general overview of the essential ice fishing gear you’ll need. These items form the foundation of your ice fishing setup and are crucial for a successful outing.

1. Ice Fishing Rods and Reels: Ice fishing rods are shorter and more sensitive than regular fishing rods. They are designed to handle the unique challenges of ice fishing, such as fishing through a small hole in the ice. Ice fishing reels are typically small and lightweight, allowing for easy handling in cold conditions.

2. Ice Auger: An ice auger is a handheld or power tool used to drill holes in the ice. Hand augers are operated manually, while power augers are motorized and make drilling faster and easier. The choice between a hand or power auger depends on personal preference and the thickness of the ice.

3. Tip-Ups: Tip-ups are devices that indicate when a fish has taken the bait. They consist of a flag that pops up when a fish strikes, signaling that it’s time to reel in your catch. Tip-ups allow you to fish multiple holes simultaneously, increasing your chances of success.

4. Ice Scoops: An ice scoop is an essential tool for clearing slush and ice from the fishing hole. It keeps the hole free from debris, allowing you to maintain visibility and prevent line tangles.

B. In-Depth Look into Ice Fishing Rods, Reels, Ice Auger, Tip-Ups, and Ice Scoops

To ensure you have the right equipment for ice fishing, it’s essential to understand the features and considerations when selecting ice fishing rods, reels, ice augers, tip-ups, and ice scoops.

1. Ice Fishing Rods: When choosing an ice fishing rod, consider the length, material, and action. Shorter rods between 24 to 36 inches are ideal for ice fishing as they allow for better maneuverability in limited space. Ice fishing rods are typically made from graphite or fiberglass, with graphite offering greater sensitivity and fiberglass providing more durability. The rod’s action determines its flexibility, with options ranging from fast to medium or slow.

2. Ice Fishing Reels: Ice fishing reels are available in different styles, including spinning reels and inline reels. Spinning reels are popular due to their versatility and ease of use, while inline reels offer a more streamlined design and reduced line twist.

3. Ice Augers: When selecting an ice auger, consider the blade size, type, and power source. Blade sizes typically range from 4 to 10 inches, with larger blades suitable for targeting larger fish species. Ice augers come in hand-operated or power options, with power augers providing quicker and more effortless drilling, particularly in thick ice conditions.

4. Tip-Ups: Tip-ups come in various designs, including round, rectangular, and thermal models. Consider the material, size, and sensitivity of the flag mechanism when choosing a tip-up. Thermal tip-ups are recommended for extremely cold conditions as they prevent the hole from freezing over.

5. Ice Scoops: Ice scoops are typically made of plastic or metal and come in different sizes. A larger scoop allows for quick and efficient ice removal, while a smaller scoop offers more precision. Consider the material’s durability and the scoop’s handle design for comfortable and secure grip.

C. Ice Fishing Gear Modifications and Adaptations for Freezing Temperatures and Challenging Conditions

Ice fishing often entails braving freezing temperatures and challenging conditions. To enhance your performance and comfort, consider making gear modifications and adaptations.

1. Rod and Reel Modifications: To prevent ice buildup on the rod guides and reel, apply a silicone-based lubricant before heading out. This will keep your line running smoothly and prevent freezing.

2. Auger Blade Maintenance: Regularly sharpening and lubricating the blades of your ice auger will ensure efficient drilling and prolong their lifespan. Carry a spare set of blades in case of emergencies.

3. Tip-Up Insulation: To prevent your tip-up hole from freezing, insulate it with foam or fabric covers specifically designed for this purpose. These covers provide extra insulation and help maintain the hole’s openness.

4. Warmth and Comfort: Dressing in layers using moisture-wicking and insulating materials will keep you warm and comfortable. Use hand and foot warmers, as well as thermal socks and gloves, to combat the cold. Additionally, invest in insulated boots and bibs to protect against icy winds.

By understanding the essential ice fishing equipment, selecting the right gear, and making necessary modifications, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the challenges of ice fishing. In the next section, “III. Ice Fishing Tackle,” we will explore the significance of a well-organized ice fishing tackle box and provide tips for efficiently organizing your tackle.

III. Ice Fishing Tackle: Essential Gear and Organization

When it comes to ice fishing, having the right tackle is essential for a successful outing. In this section, we’ll explore the significance of a well-organized ice fishing tackle box, discuss the selection of the right bait, and provide tips for efficient organization.

A. The Significance of a Well-Organized Ice Fishing Tackle Box

An organized tackle box is like a toolbox for a carpenter—it holds all the necessary tools for a successful ice fishing trip. Here’s why a well-organized tackle box is so important:

  • Efficiency: With a well-organized tackle box, you won’t waste precious time searching for the right gear when you need it most. Everything will have its place and be easily accessible.
  • Convenience: A tackle box with compartments and dividers allows you to keep your gear neatly separated and organized. This makes it easier to find what you need and reduces the chances of losing or damaging your equipment.
  • Readiness: When you have a tackle box that’s well-stocked and organized, you can be confident that you have the necessary gear for any ice fishing situation. It’s like having an arsenal of options at your fingertips.

Investing in a tackle box with different compartments or using tackle trays and dividers can help you keep your ice fishing gear neatly organized and maximize your efficiency on the ice.

B. Selection of the Right Bait for Ice Fishing

Choosing the right bait is crucial for enticing fish to bite. Here are some tips to help you make the right bait selections:

  • Research Local Fisheries: Learn about the fish species you’re targeting and the types of bait they prefer. Local tackle shops and online resources can provide valuable insights.
  • Variety is Key: Different fish species have different preferences, so it’s important to have a variety of bait options in your tackle box. This gives you the flexibility to adapt to changing fishing conditions.
  • Match the Hatch: Pay attention to the natural food sources available to fish during the winter months. Matching your bait to what the fish are naturally feeding on will increase your chances of success.
  • Experiment and Adapt: Sometimes, fish can be finicky and prefer certain baits over others. Don’t be afraid to experiment and switch up your bait if you’re not getting any bites.

Remember, the right bait can vary depending on the species of fish you’re targeting and the location you’re fishing in. It’s always a good idea to have a variety of bait options in your tackle box to increase your chances of success.

C. Tips for Efficiently Organizing Your Ice Fishing Tackle Box

Organizing your tackle box efficiently ensures that you have a stress-free and enjoyable ice fishing experience. Here are some tips to help you keep your tackle box well-organized:

  • Categorize Your Gear: Group similar items together, such as hooks, jigs, spoons, and soft baits, using separate compartments or tackle trays. This makes it easier to find what you need when you’re out on the ice.
  • Label and Sort: Use labels or dividers to categorize your gear further. You can label compartments based on the type of bait, size, or specific fishing techniques.
  • Keep it Clean: Regularly clean your tackle box to remove dirt, debris, and moisture that can damage your gear or attract unwanted critters. A clean and dry tackle box helps prolong the life of your equipment.
  • Inventory Check: Before every ice fishing trip, take a quick inventory check to ensure you have all the necessary gear and replenish any items that are running low.

Efficiently organizing your tackle box not only saves you time and frustration but also helps you maintain your gear in top condition for future fishing adventures.

Now that you have a well-organized tackle box with carefully selected bait, you’re ready to hit the ice with confidence. In the next section, we’ll discuss essential safety measures to ensure your ice fishing experience is enjoyable and secure.

IV. Ice Fishing Safety Measures

When venturing out onto the ice for a day of fishing, safety should always be your top priority. Here we’ll explore the importance of safety in ice fishing and the essential safety equipment you should have, as well as tips for using ice cleats effectively and safely.

A. Importance of Safety in Ice Fishing

Ice fishing can be a thrilling and enjoyable experience, but it also presents unique risks due to the icy environment. Here are some key reasons why safety should be a top concern:

  • Ice thickness and stability: The thickness and stability of the ice can vary greatly depending on factors such as temperature, snow cover, and currents. Understanding how to assess ice thickness and quality is crucial to prevent accidents and ensure your safety.
  • Water safety: Falling through the ice is a significant risk in ice fishing. Cold water immersion and hypothermia can set in quickly, making it essential to know how to react and rescue yourself or others in case of an emergency.
  • Extreme weather conditions: Ice fishing often takes place in cold weather conditions, which can present additional risks such as frostbite and hypothermia. Proper clothing and preparation are essential for protecting yourself from the elements.
  • Equipment hazards: Ice fishing equipment, such as augers and heaters, can present potential dangers if not used correctly or maintained properly. Understanding the safe operation and maintenance of your equipment is vital to prevent accidents.

B. Essential Safety Equipment for Ice Fishing

Having the right safety equipment is crucial for a safe ice fishing experience. Here are some essential items to include in your safety kit:

  • Ice picks or ice claws: These handheld tools can help you pull yourself out of the water in the event of a fall through the ice. They should be worn around your neck or attached to your clothing for quick and easy access.
  • Throw rope: A throw rope with a buoyant end should be carried to provide assistance in rescuing someone who has fallen through the ice.
  • Life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD): Wearing a PFD can greatly increase your chances of survival in the event of an accident. Choose a PFD specifically designed for ice fishing to ensure it provides adequate insulation and buoyancy.
  • Ice cleats: Ice cleats are traction devices that attach to your boots or shoes to provide better grip and stability on the ice. They are essential for preventing slips and falls.
  • Ice chisel or spud bar: This long-handled tool is used to test the thickness and quality of the ice as you walk. It allows you to check the ice ahead of you for any potential hazards.

C. Using ice cleats effectively and safely

Ice cleats are an essential piece of safety equipment for ice fishing. Here are some tips for using them effectively and safely:

  • Proper fitting: Ensure that your ice cleats fit securely and snugly on your boots or shoes. They should be evenly distributed and tightened properly to prevent them from coming loose while walking.
  • Walking technique: Take shorter and slower strides when walking on the ice to maintain better balance and stability. Distribute your weight evenly and keep your center of gravity low.
  • Be cautious on transitions: Pay extra attention when transitioning from one surface to another, such as from snow to bare ice or from rough to smooth ice. These transitions can be particularly slippery and require extra care.
  • Inspect regularly: Regularly inspect your ice cleats for any signs of wear or damage. Replace any worn-out cleats to ensure they provide reliable traction.
  • Remove indoors: Remove your ice cleats before entering any indoor spaces or vehicles, as they can damage flooring and create hazards.

By understanding the importance of safety, having the right safety equipment, and using ice cleats effectively, you can significantly reduce the risks associated with ice fishing. Safety should always be your priority while enjoying this exciting winter activity.

Next, we’ll delve into the essential clothing and insulation needed to stay warm and comfortable during your ice fishing adventures.

V. Ice Fishing Clothing and Insulation

When it comes to ice fishing, proper clothing and insulation are essential for staying comfortable and safe in freezing temperatures. The right gear will protect you from the elements and ensure an enjoyable experience on the ice.

A. Essential Clothing for Ice Fishing: Boots, Gloves, Insulated Bibs

Investing in high-quality clothing designed specifically for ice fishing is crucial. Here are some essential pieces of clothing to consider:

  1. Boots: Insulated, waterproof boots with good traction are a must. Look for boots specifically designed for cold weather conditions, with features such as insulation to keep your feet warm, waterproof materials to keep them dry, and sturdy soles for traction on icy surfaces.
  2. Gloves: Your hands are particularly susceptible to the cold, so it’s important to choose gloves that provide adequate insulation while allowing for dexterity. Consider gloves that are waterproof, windproof, and have thermal insulation to keep your hands warm even in sub-zero temperatures. Look for gloves with removable liners for added versatility.
  3. Insulated Bibs: Insulated bibs or overalls are a practical choice for ice fishing as they provide full-body coverage and protect against wind and water. Opt for bibs with adjustable shoulder straps for a customizable fit. Look for designs that offer ample insulation while allowing for ease of movement.

Remember, layering your clothing is key in maintaining optimal body temperature and comfort during your ice fishing outings.

B. Role of insulation in Ice fishing

Insulation plays a vital role in ice fishing as it helps retain body heat and prevents cold air from penetrating your clothing. By trapping warm air close to your body, insulation materials keep you warm and comfortable even in frigid conditions.

Common insulation materials include down, synthetic fibers, and fleece. Down insulation offers excellent warmth-to-weight ratio and compressibility, making it ideal for layering. Synthetic insulation, such as Thinsulate™, is known for its ability to retain warmth even in wet conditions. Fleece is a lightweight and breathable option that provides warmth without adding bulk.

When selecting insulated clothing for ice fishing, consider the temperature rating of the garments. Look for clothing that is specifically designed for cold weather conditions and offers sufficient insulation for the coldest temperatures you might encounter.

C. Layering clothing for an Ice Fishing outing

Layering your clothing is crucial for regulating body temperature and adapting to changing weather conditions. Here’s a recommended layering system for ice fishing:

  1. Base Layer: Start with a moisture-wicking base layer that helps keep your skin dry by wicking away sweat. Opt for thermal or merino wool tops and bottoms that provide warmth without bulk.
  2. Mid Layer: The mid-layer serves as insulation and helps retain body heat. Fleece jackets or sweaters are excellent choices for this layer. They provide warmth and breathability while allowing freedom of movement.
  3. Outer Layer: The outer layer acts as a shield against wind, water, and snow. Look for a waterproof and windproof jacket or parka that provides ample insulation and has adjustable cuffs and a hood to keep out the elements.
  4. Accessories: Don’t forget to protect your extremities. Wear insulated hats or beanies to retain heat and cover your ears. Neck gaiters or scarves can protect your neck and lower face, while thermal socks can keep your feet warm. Consider using hand and foot warmers for extra warmth in extremely cold conditions.

Layering allows you to adjust your clothing as needed, adding or removing layers to adapt to temperature fluctuations and activity levels throughout your ice fishing trip.

By wearing the right clothing, insulating your body effectively, and layering intelligently, you’ll be well-prepared for the cold conditions of ice fishing. In the next section, we’ll explore the importance of ice shelters and location selection for a successful outing.

VI. Ice Shelters and Location Selection

When it comes to ice fishing, having a reliable and comfortable ice shelter is essential. Ice shelters, also known as ice shanties or ice huts, provide protection from the elements and create a cozy space for anglers to fish in comfort. In this section, we will explore the different types of ice shelters, their features, and how to choose the right one for your needs. We will also discuss the importance of portable heaters in ice shelters and provide tips on selecting the perfect location for your ice shelter.

A. Understanding Ice Shelters: Types, Features, and Selection

Ice shelters come in various types, each designed to meet different fishing preferences and weather conditions. The two main types of ice shelters are portable and permanent. Portable ice shelters are lightweight and can be easily transported to different fishing spots, while permanent ice shelters are more durable structures that are left on the ice for the duration of the ice fishing season.

Portable ice shelters are further categorized into flip-over shelters, hub shelters, and pop-up shelters. Flip-over shelters are compact and easy to set up with a sled-like design that allows for quick transport and setup. Hub shelters are larger and provide more space for multiple anglers, with a hub-style design that offers a central hub for stability. Pop-up shelters are the most portable and can be set up in minutes, making them a popular choice for mobile ice anglers.

When selecting an ice shelter, it’s important to consider the size, weight, and features. Look for shelters with sturdy frames, durable materials that can withstand harsh weather conditions, and ample interior space. Features such as ventilation, removable windows, storage pockets, and blackout coatings for better visibility in bright sunlight are also worth considering.

B. Role of Portable Heaters in Ice Shelters

Ice fishing often takes place during the coldest months of the year, and the temperatures on the ice can be extreme. That’s where portable heaters come in handy. Portable heaters help to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the ice shelter, allowing anglers to stay warm and fish for longer periods.

When choosing a portable heater for your ice shelter, safety should be a top priority. Look for heaters specifically designed for use in confined spaces and with safety features like automatic shut-off in case of tip-over or low oxygen levels. Portable heaters typically run on propane and can provide heat for several hours depending on the size and efficiency of the heater.

C. Tips on Choosing a Suitable Location for Your Ice Shelter

The location of your ice shelter can significantly impact your fishing success. Here are some tips to help you choose a suitable location:

  1. Study the ice conditions: Before setting up your ice shelter, assess the ice thickness and quality. Use an ice auger to drill test holes at various locations to check for uniform ice thickness and the absence of weak spots.
  2. Consider the depth: Fish tend to move to deeper water during the winter months, so look for locations with a depth that corresponds to the species you are targeting. Consult local fishing reports or talk to other anglers to gather information on the depth preferences of the fish in your area.
  3. Look for underwater structures: Fish are attracted to underwater structures such as drop-offs, points, and submerged vegetation. These structures provide shelter and feeding opportunities. Use a fish finder or consult local fishing maps to locate these structures under the ice.
  4. Observe the fishing pressure: If you notice a large concentration of anglers in a particular area, it’s a good indication that the fishing is productive in that spot. However, be mindful of overcrowding and ensure that you have enough space between other ice shelters for safety and privacy.
  5. Be adaptable: Ice fishing conditions can change rapidly, so it’s important to be adaptable and willing to move your ice shelter if the fishing is slow. Pay attention to the fish activity and make adjustments accordingly to increase your chances of success.

By selecting the right type of ice shelter, equipping it with a portable heater, and choosing a suitable location, you can enhance your ice fishing experience and increase your chances of success. Remember to always prioritize safety and consult local regulations and guidelines before venturing onto the ice.

VII. Maintenance and Longevity of Ice Fishing Equipment

Proper maintenance and care of your ice fishing equipment are essential for maximizing its lifespan and ensuring that it performs optimally. Here’s a guide on cleaning and caring for your gear, recognizing signs of wear and tear, and tips to keep your ice fishing equipment in top shape.

A. Cleaning and Off-Season Care for Ice Fishing Equipment

After a successful day on the ice, it’s crucial to clean your equipment properly. This helps prevent corrosion and damage, ensuring that your gear stays in excellent condition for future fishing trips.

  • Ice Fishing Rods and Reels: Rinse your rods and reels with freshwater to remove any dirt, salt, or debris. Dry them thoroughly before storing them in a protective case or rod sleeve to prevent damage.
  • Ice Auger: Clean the blades of your ice auger and remove any ice or debris. Lubricate the moving parts to prevent rusting. Store it in a dry place to avoid moisture damage.
  • Ice Scoops and Tip-Ups: Rinse off any dirt or ice, ensuring that all moving parts are free from debris. Allow them to dry completely to prevent rust or mold growth.
  • Ice Fishing Tackle: Remove and clean hooks, lures, and sinkers. Dry them thoroughly to prevent rust. Organize your tackle box and discard any damaged or worn-out items.
  • Ice Shelters: Clean the interior and exterior of your ice shelters, removing any dirt or debris. Ensure it is completely dry before folding and storing it in a dry location.

During the off-season, it’s crucial to store your ice fishing equipment properly to prevent damage and prolong its lifespan. Store gear in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.

B. Signs of Wear and Tear to Be Aware Of

Regular inspection of your ice fishing equipment is essential to identify any signs of wear and tear. Addressing these issues promptly helps prevent equipment failure and ensures your safety on the ice. Look out for the following signs:

  • Rod and Reel: Check for loose or damaged reel seats, worn-out guides, frayed fishing line, or sticky drag systems.
  • Ice Auger: Look for dull or chipped blades, damaged handles, or any issues with the engine or power source.
  • Tip-Ups and Ice Scoops: Inspect for cracks, broken parts, or rusty components that may affect their functionality.
  • Ice Shelters: Check for tears, holes, or damaged poles that may compromise the shelter’s integrity.
  • Ice Fishing Tackle: Examine hooks, lures, and sinkers for rust, corrosion, or damaged hooks that may need replacement.

C. Tips to Maximize the Lifespan of Ice Fishing Equipment

Extend the lifespan of your ice fishing equipment with these tips:

  • Regular Inspections: Perform regular inspections of your gear before and after each use to identify and address any issues promptly.
  • Proper Storage: Store equipment in a dry location, away from moisture and extreme temperatures, to prevent damage and premature wear.
  • Regular Lubrication: Apply lubricant to moving parts, such as reel mechanisms and auger blades, to reduce friction and prevent rust.
  • Sharp Blades: Keep ice auger blades sharp for efficient drilling and to avoid unnecessary strain on the motor.
  • Protective Cases: Invest in protective cases or sleeves for rods, reels, and other fragile equipment to prevent damage during transport and storage.

By following these maintenance tips and staying vigilant about the condition of your ice fishing equipment, you can enhance its longevity and ensure that it serves you well on the ice for many seasons to come.

Now that you’ve learned how to care for your ice fishing gear, let’s dive into the exciting world of using technology to enhance your ice fishing experience in the next section.

VIII. Using Technology to Enhance Ice Fishing

Ice fishing has come a long way in recent years, thanks to advancements in technology. Gone are the days of relying solely on guesswork and intuition. Today, ice anglers have a range of high-tech tools at their disposal to enhance their fishing experience and increase their chances of success.

A. Benefits and operation of Ice Fishing Finders

Ice fishing finders, also known as fish finders or flashers, are electronic devices specifically designed to help anglers locate fish beneath the ice. These devices use sonar technology to provide real-time information about the location, depth, and movement of fish.

The primary benefit of using an ice fishing finder is the ability to see what’s happening beneath the surface. By displaying the presence of fish and their behavior, these devices allow anglers to make more informed decisions about where and how to fish. Ice fishing finders typically have a transducer that is lowered into the water through an ice hole. The transducer emits sonar waves that bounce off underwater objects, including fish, and the information is displayed on the screen of the device.

Ice fishing finders come in various models, ranging from basic to advanced. Basic models display the depth of the water and the presence of fish, while more advanced models provide additional features such as water temperature, bottom composition, and even GPS capabilities. Learning to interpret the information displayed on the finder takes practice, but with time, anglers can become proficient in understanding the signals and patterns.

B. Importance of Fishing Sonars in Ice Fishing

Fishing sonars are another crucial piece of technology that ice anglers can utilize to enhance their ice fishing experience. While ice fishing finders primarily focus on locating fish, fishing sonars provide more detailed information about the underwater environment.

Using sound waves, fishing sonars create a visual representation of the underwater landscape, including the depth, contours, and structures that fish may be occupying. This information helps anglers identify drop-offs, weed beds, and other potential fishing hotspots. By understanding the underwater topography, ice anglers can strategically drill their holes and position themselves for optimal fishing opportunities.

Additionally, fishing sonars can provide information about the presence of baitfish, which is crucial in attracting larger game fish. They can also detect changes in bottom composition, such as sand, gravel, or rocky areas, where different species of fish may prefer to congregate.

C. Advantage of using LED lights during Ice Fishing

LED lights have become a popular addition to the ice angler’s toolkit, offering several advantages during ice fishing expeditions. These compact, energy-efficient lights provide illumination in low-light conditions, making it easier to see and navigate on the ice.

LED lights are commonly used inside ice shelters and as external lighting sources. When placed inside an ice shelter, they create a well-lit environment that enhances visibility while reducing the strain on the angler’s eyes. This is particularly useful during early morning or late afternoon fishing sessions or on cloudy days when natural light is limited.

External LED lights can be attached to ice shelters or directly onto fishing rods to provide additional visibility when fishing at night or during low-light conditions. The bright, adjustable beams of LED lights help anglers see their surroundings and detect subtle movements indicating fish activity.

Moreover, LED lights come in a range of colors, including blue, green, and red. Some anglers believe that certain colors may attract fish or be less likely to spook them. While the scientific evidence supporting these claims is limited, many ice anglers enjoy experimenting with different colors to see if it affects their catch rates.

By utilizing technology such as ice fishing finders, fishing sonars, and LED lights, ice anglers can gain a significant advantage on the ice. These tools enhance the angler’s understanding of the underwater ecosystem, improve their ability to locate fish, and make the fishing experience more enjoyable overall.

With the right knowledge and equipment, ice fishing can be a rewarding and thrilling adventure. In the next sect

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