Aren’t we glad there is ice fishing? Hunting season always ends way too early and cabin fever would likely deteriorate our brains before March if we couldn’t ice fish. Ice fishing is not only a way to help the outdoors-lover through a long winter, but it also creates a wide open field for would-be inventors and tinkerers to create clever little devices.
Everyone is familiar with tip-ups, those neat little fishing rigs that trip a flag to indicate a bite. There are also wind tip-ups designed so you can run your line through a metal “flag” that bobs in the wind. The bobbing flag then jigs your lure or bait up and down, enticing more fish to bite.
Even though spring bobbers have been around awhile, most fishermen haven’t learned how effective these little rigs are. Just purchase a small spring from a hardware store, or better yet, take a spring from a ball point pen. Stretch the spring out to about five inches. Bend the last coil flat so it serves as an eye. Then straighten the wire on the other end of the coil. Tape the straight end to the rod and bend the flat coil so it is parallel with the end of the rod. Run your line through the eye end of the spring and then down through the rod tip. Even during the most subtle nibbles, the spring bobber will quiver and dip to indicate a bite.
One ingenious ice fisherman noticed that small sliding bobbers held in place with pegs or tooth picks accumulated ice around the peg. So he just pegged the bobber from the bottom and solved his problem.
Another angler got tired of having his hole continually fill with snow on windy days. So he cut out both ends of a large can and stuck it in the hole to block out blowing snow. You can anchor the can by piling slush around it. Also try cutting a slit in a piece of cardboard and place it over the hole. Then just drop your bait through the slit.
Perhaps the slickest way to keep your hole from freezing up is with a water spitter. All you need to make one of these is a coffee can, eight feet of quarter-inch copper tubing, a soldering gun and charcoal briquettes. Bend the copper tubing into a three-to four-inch coil and place it in a five-inch coffee can. Drill a hole next to the bottom of the can so an inch or so of tubing can stick out. Seal around the hole with solder. Leave about 18-inches of tubing on top of the coil to form a spout. Cut a hole in the ice next to your fishing hole and position the can in it so the spout is above your hole. Pack around it with snow and slush. After you light the briquettes the hot tubing will draw in water from the bottom, warms it, and “spits” it into your hole to keep it ice-free. If necessary, weight the water spitter with lead to keep it from floating out of the hole.
Oh yes, ice fishing has brought the inventor out of many of us. I can’t help but wonder what if Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Edison had been ice fishing fans.