Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 204 (Fishing and Fishing Stuff): The Trap And Skeet Pond & Frabill's Pro-Thermal Tip-Up

When: Friday, December 3rd, from 5:30pm to 6pm
Where: A small pond in Kenilworth
What: Fishing
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 51 degrees, West wind at 8mph
Barometric Pressure: 30.34in and steady
Moon: Waxing, just after the first quarter
Water Conditions: Low and muddy

I originally intended to feature a product only once a week, but fishing was so incredibly "blah" again today and I wanted to write something that was worthwhile reading. Plus, I just got an amazing box from Frabill in the mail that included my sick new SnoSuit and a three Pro-Thermal Tip-Ups. Another thing is that most freshwater fishermen are either gearing-up for ice season right now or packing it in and preparing to do so some shopping. Maybe writing about some ice and open water gear more often might help someone, somewhere. If not, at least it gives me material until the fish start biting.

First, the fishing.

There's a little pond over in Kenilworth near the end of Lenape Park. I've heard people refer to this area as the "Trap and Skeet" range, apparently because it used to be a......uhhhh.......trap and skeet range. The Rahway River runs along one side of the "range" and there is a small, shallow puddle with another smaller but deeper pool on the other side. I've yet to catch any fish from the river, although I have seen many carp feeding there. The smaller, deeper pool has produced quite a few native goldfish and panfish.

Not today though, enough said.

Now the tip-ups.

For anyone who has never been ice fishing and does not know what a "tip-up" is, here is the run-down in a nut shell. Tip-ups come in many shapes, sizes, degrees of complexity and price ranges, but they all operate off the same general principle. A tip-up is a device that is placed over a hole in the ice that you have theoretically just drilled. Hanging down into the water below is a spool of line to which you would attach a hook and a lively piece of bait. On top of the tip-up is some type of release and a flag that is attached to the end of a metal pole with a spring. The flag is tucked under the release that is triggered by the turning of the spool when a fish pulls the bait and the line. When you see a flag go up in the air, you run over as quickly and quietly as possible, taking the tip-up out of the hole and bringing in your catch by hand. This event is usually preceded by a yell of "Flag" and the scurrying can often involve an amusing spill on the ice if the person involved is not wearing cleats.

For the last few years, my Bass Pros Shops $8.99 apiece tips-ups have been treating me well and are still in perfect working order. However, I'm always in the market to try new gear and I had been eyeing these tip-ups made by Frabill for some time. The tip-ups I have from Bass Pro Shops are incredibly easy to use and are very durable. The one advantage of Frabill's Pro-Thermal is that the round design completely covers the hole, which most other styles do not. When using these other styles, one often encounters snow blowing into the hole and the surface water of the hole freezing back over, especially on cold days. The Pro-Thermal tip-up, on the other hand, is insulated with Styrofoam to prevent this from happening. The trigger mechanism is just as easy to use as on my older tip-ups and the spool has the capacity to handle enough line for the longest run a large toothy critter can dish out.

A savvy eye will also catch the yellow line that I'm using, but I'll save that trick for another day.

Check out these tip-ups and all of Frabill's other solid ice fishing gear at

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