Ice Fishing

Salmon, but not Salmon…

This came up on a forum I post at, about how tasty the small king salmon I caught ice fishing had to be. I felt compelled to clarify there, and I should here as well.


They are Extremely tasty, and Are indeed king salmon. But I you can’t really think of them as a salmon when it comes to the eating. Not like most people are used to salmon tasting.
These are hatchery fish that are stocked into several lakes here. “Real” wild salmon get their pink color and flavor from their ocean going diet… So a land locked salmon is a very white flesh, and a mild flavor.

To me, they taste like the rainbow trout with a slight salmony hint to it.
Here is a piece of one I fried for lunch today, notice how light the flesh is;

SUPER tasty fish! But not what most people think when they think salmon. 🙂

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Categories: Alaska-Life, Fishing, Food, GetOutdoors, Ice Fishing, Life-Philosophy, Outdoors, Wildlife, Winter | Leave a comment

Custom ice auger adaptor for cordless drill.

These things are popular right now, with the high torque long battery life of modern cordless drills, its verry easy to drill ice holes with them.

Several companies make dedicated augers for this(a friend just got a 6″ K-Drill, works great!).

Also popular are these adaptors to run augers off of hand augers.

I figured the large 8″ auger off my new gas unit was probably heavier than the 8″ hand units, and definitely heavier than the 6″ hand units. But I also figured it should still work, maybe as fast as the others, but if the drill had the torqe to turn it, I’d still have holes!

Adaptors for the hand augers run around $25. But as far as I could tell, the shaft size was different than the gas augers.

And besides that, $25 for something I could turn myself on the lathe? Yup 😉

So, auger in hand, in the shop, and a couple hours later I had this;

Before and after, it’s turned from solid 1.5″ aluminum.

And then I decided it needed a side handle for stability. 1st version with a roller bearing between ring and shaft failed… Accidentally ended up too narrow to drill and tap for thd handle stud. Oops!

Second try I left out the bearing to save time and work, I figured if the whole concept works, I can do it later.

Opposing stud is for an added safety catch, the works can’t drop through the ice… Technically if the drill comes off though, the auger itself can– Considering the drill can’t got through a 8″ hole when on the auger, I kinda missed the boat on thst feature. Lol.

Need to re-mount this or similar below the connection to the auger…

But anyway, there she is!

Tried it yesterday, and it does work, it will crank it in the ice, and drill holes!

But its pretty slow.

Faster and easier than a hand auger, for sure. But the work needed isn’t something I’d want to subject this drill to very often.

We tried it on my buddies bigger drill, and it ate through pretty dang fast. Not as fast as the 6″ K-Drill, but very respectable!

Faster/more powerful drill than what I have, and it’d be perfectly fine.

So yeah, it works. But I won’t be using it. Bigger drill would be a couple hundred minimum. Smaller lighter auger bit, about $60. But since I have the nice 43cc gas motor for this one, I really can’t justify any of the cost.

I’ll shelf it. If I end up with a more powerful drill, or a hand auger, I’ll have the option to try it again.

If nothing else, it was a fun project for the lathe, I enjoyed it. 🙂

Categories: Aluminum, Custom, custom-made-tools, Customized, Fabrication, Field gear, Fishing, Ice Fishing, Improviser, Lathe, Modifications, Prototypes, tool mods | 1 Comment

Ice fishing report, 12-1-18

Look what I got!

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Here are 4 more, random samples of the fish I caught. 10 total keepers, all but one were like this, big and plump!

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Great day on the ice, 25F, clear and sunny, 8″ of ice on Cushman lake– Ice report said 13″, so we parked on the lake… 2 full size pickups side by side on 8″ of ice was pushing our luck, but thankfully God is graciou- no issues.

We were over the deepest water, 25 feet, the ice is usually thinner over the deeper spots, so the ice report was probably right. There were lots of other tracks, an ice skating area and trail to huts has been plowed too. I wasnt really worried about it, but technically it was a little on the skethy end.

Anyway, back to the fun!

My buddy, his son, and myself all limited out (10 fish per) on these “little” king salmon.

Their piles of fish;

About 4.5 hours out, we just couldn’t quit, it was so much fun! Action was great too, not just the catching, but the fighting. Had to work for them not just catch them(easy fishing is boring fishing!).

Categories: Adventures, Alaska-Life, Fishing, GetOutdoors, Good Friends, Good Times, Ice Fishing, Just Plain Fun, Outdoors, Winter | 3 Comments

Custom ice fishing bucket seat.

When out last Saturday I wanted to travel lighter, leave my folding chair and fish cooler behind, go with a bucket seat. But there was no way in hell I was going shopping on black Friday!

Some old foam, a chunk of naugahide, and some scrap lumber in the shop, couple hours and I made me a hinged, padded, bucket seat, that doubles as a fish carrier.

It works! 😉

Only downside I’ve found is no backrest for 4 hours sucks 😉 and it sliddes a little on the ice. Second trip out with it yesterday and I put it in a milk crate, for traction. Works good, adds some stability and places to hang things.

Categories: Custom, custom-made-tools, Fabrication, Field gear, Fishing, GetOutdoors, Ice Fishing, Improviser, Modifications, New Gear, Re-purpose, Repurpose | 3 Comments

Ice fishing report, November 24th, 2018

Got out to Birch Lake the first time this season last Saturday, I didn’t get anything but a buddy and his kids did great. I didn’t care I got skunked, I got all the fun I needed watching those kids(7 and 9)catch their first cold fish (and I think first fish ever)!!

Most of those are rainbow trout, a couple small silver salmon. They could have limited out, but put a lot of little ones back.

I had Something about twice that size on the line once, as did my buddy… Bugger got off just shy of the ice both times, stayed just long enough for us to see him each time! Bloody teaser!

Getting ready to hit another favorite spot this coming Saturday. About 13″ of ice according to F&G ice reports, up from the 8″ last week. Usually a lot more by this time of year but we’ve had the mildest fall/winter so far that I can remember in 25 years..

He got a new auger, one of those gear boxed suckers that goes on a cordless drill (works phenomenally! ).

They wanted to give me something as a thanks for helping out with some stuff last month, so they gave me his gas auger. Absolutely floored me!

8″auger, 43cc motor, Eskimo, came with an extension bar too.

I’ve been ice fishing 3 or 4 years now and have Never had an auger, even a hand one or even a ice chisel! Always go with someone that has gear, or use a hole already open that someone’s vacated, ask a favor of someone to drill me one etc.

Big game changer for me, really opens up where and when I can go now!

Sizing up to be a good season. Got a couple gear mods to make posts for soon, and some other new gear too.

Should be back with another trip report in a couple days, hopefully with at least one fish of my own this time!

Categories: Adventures, Alaska-Life, Backcountry, Field gear, Fishing, GetOutdoors, Good Friends, Good Times, Ice Fishing, New Gear, Outdoors, Winter | 1 Comment

Ice fishing tent fix 2.0

Some of you might remember fix 1.0 last year. A friend was given an Eskimo Quickfish 3, but he doesn’t (ice)fish, so gave it to me. It had 2 broken poles. The ends had snapped relatively clean off, so I made connectors to reattach the ends for the hubs to the poles.

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Done in brass because it was the only stock I had bigger diameter than the pole end pieces.

This year I had it set up before first snow to dry out (outside storage over the summer) and 8″ of snow load collapsed the top; I broke a pole getting it cleaned off...


This time it broke the pole mid length, and it exploded, long slivers of fiberglass everywhere… Couldn’t salvage it, and handling it to salvage the end/hinge piece was too hazzardoes.

So, I made a new pole, and the end this time. Machined the hinge end from aluminum, with a steel cross pin. And mounted on a fiberglass driveway marker rod. Works great!

(These poles are only $10 new, but shipping something 49” long to Alaska is rediculously expensive!)

Categories: Alaska-Life, Aluminum, Custom, Customized, Fabrication, Field gear, Fishing, Ice Fishing, Improviser, MacGyver, MacGyverism, Modifications, Re-purpose, Recycle, Repairs, Repurpose, Winter | 1 Comment

For warm dry knees! 

Got a new item recently. Well, 3 items actually. 

After my moose hunting trip this fall, a sleeping pad I’d borrowed to take was misplaced. Wasn’t in my gear, and when the boat was unpacked, it wasn’t found. We figured it blew out of the boat on the long drive back, and hoped someone found it on that winding mountain road– If I lose something, I at least hope someone gets some use fromy it, that it’s not wasted.

And I’d just obviously get a new one for the guy I borrowed it from. 

I did go buy a new one. 
Couple weeks went by before I got to take stuff back to him. 

In that time, my buddy cleaned Everything out of the boat. 

He found the padd, said literally it was stuffed so far up under the front deck a hurricane wouldn’t have budged it! 

None the worse for wear, I returned that pad to my friend, intending to return the new one, get my much needed $45 back. I did think about trying to still give my friend the new one, but he wouldn’t have accepted it if the old one wasn’t lost.. 

After using the first padd in an emergency, sleeping on it on Cold front deck on the boat on the river one night, I was sold on it, figured I’d get myself one like it before next season. 

Just didn’t really want to spend the money now… Didn’t get around to trying to return it till after the return period had ended. Oops.

In that time period I’d been also looking at small foam pads, after seeing someone at BCUSA carrying a sitting pad in their day bag. Found something I never knew anyone made; kneeling pads! Some for camping, some for gardening, work etc. 

My dad used to cut sections from the old 1/4″ closed cell foam sleep pads for kneeling to work, but I’d never seen anything sold for that. 

I’d started carrying chunks of cardboard in my truck box for roadside, job site etc kneeling, sitting, laying etc on cold or wet ground. Realized I should have had a foam one like dad used to make in the truck years ago, just never thought of it! 


You can see where this is headed, right? 

Since I have it, but don’t need the padd for sleeping till next summer, and can pick up another one then if I need it (I actually use a Klymit V-luxe air pad the most); In the mean time I can save myself the cost of keeler pads. 

I’d also found another great use for that pad on the hunting trip, as a chair pad. Took my folding canvas camp chair along, and it was great. But as id found before, sitting too long in one of those in cool wet weather, especially with a breeze can freeze your back and butt; its just cold canvas your sitting on, stays cool and bleeds heat fast.. I laid the pad in the chair and with a light sleeping bag over my legs was very comfy for early and late river vigils waiting for bulwinkle. :)

I did this last week a few days before ice fishing… I use the same chair for that activity, and sitting in that chair even with winter gear on can royally freeze your ass in a wind on a lake @ 10F or colder… 

So 30 seconds laying the new one in a chair to measure length needed for seat and back, then another 30 seconds with a pocket knife, cutting along the thin fold line. One chair pad made! 

Then what was left I cut into two equal sections, also cutting on the folds. Go two kneeling/sitting pads, one for my hunting/camping/hiking gear, and one for the truck. 

It was so warm last week for ice fishing I didn’t bother to take the big chair pad along, just took a small one. Never needed it, it was so warm, and the fishing was so good I spent a lot of time standing anyway. 

Anyway, it was still in the cab of my truck last night, got home late, 40F out (!) light wind, clear sky, stars out and Lots of northern lights. 

I killed the yard lights, grabbed the pad and sat on the tailgate of my truck to watch the show. 40F ambient is great, but a metal tailgate will still be 0F or colder after a week if that and freeze yer ass off! But with the pad I was dry and toasty. Size was good too, enough to sit on comfortably, but not huge to store. 

Gonna need two more pads now… One to keep as a sleep pad, and another to make more kneelers, for other uses/places/vehicles. 

It is/was a Therm-a-rest Z-Lite pad BTW. 

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Thermarest does make a sitting pad, shorter than the sleep pads, and cheaper at $15. Same design, same materials. It would have been too small for the chair pad I wanted, but I might get a couple of those for making more kneelers. Think I can get two of this size kneeler from one of those. 2 for about $15 ain’t bad!

As it is now, two sit/kneel pads and a chair pad that could be used as a short sleep pad isn’t bad at all for $45! 🙂 

Categories: Backcountry, Camping gear, Custom, Customized, Field gear, GetOutdoors, Ice Fishing, Modifications, New Gear, Outdoors, Preparedness, Truck gear

New ice tent fix & first ice fishing of 2017

Last summer a buddy of mines neighbor gave him an ice fishing tent… Brand new, in box. The guy had got it as a gift or something, and didn’t need two.. something like that IIRC. But unfortunately the guy was a little drunk when he was giving it away, and insisted on showing my friend how to set it up. 


Uhuh. Broke two poles in the process. And I’m really not sure how… These tents are so simple and idiot proof.. well, I guess not drunk proof.. lol. 

These things operate on a simple tension system, a X of poles, anchored at the outer corners of each wall, and the roof, a pivoting hub in the center attached to the wall. The X is a few inches bigger than the dimensions of the wall, so when you snap it out rigid it bows the wall out against the pressure, and it pops into place and stays under the tension. Super slick and easy. 

He managed to snap off two of the poles from one hub, snapped right at the end, flush with the metal pivot ends that fit in the hub. 

My buddy doesn’t ice fish(yeah, a weirdo, I know…), so he gave me the tent.  I just got around to going and getting it from him a week ago yesterday. 

New poles I found are $10 each plus shipping. They’re 49.5″ long, I hate to think what shipping to AK was going to be. But I figured there had to be an easy fix. 

My buddy thought PVC pipe over the breaks. I can’t remember seeing PVC that small. (3/8″ ID for the pole, 1/2″ ID for the end fitting.)

And I was hoping to not buy anything 😉  

I took it apart and took the end pieces out, headed to the shop. 

I had a plan, would just make a sleeve to join them, set screws to hold them in, long over the pole side for support against it torquing out, or snapping again. 

Didn’t have any aluminum big enough dia, that wasn’t 2″ Dia, so I used a scrap of bead stock brass. Ended up 5″ each sleeve, bored through at 0.375″ and counter bored on one end at 0.5″. Cross drilled, and tapped 6-32 for some brass screws I had. Cross drilled through the end fittings (aluminium), and ran the screws through instead of just against them. 

When you break a fiberglass rod, as you know if you have ever broken a ski pole or tent pole, it “blooms” on the end, sort of a spreading, or swelling to larger dia.

That made it perfect, I fed the fittings over from the opposite end, and it formed a press fit over the expanded area, I had to drive them on, down to the right length to end at 49.5″. Perfect! 

First assembly I had the end of the sleeve too close to the cross pin the ends pivot on in the hub, it wouldn’t fold. Went back and trimmedthem down a touch, now they’re fine. 

Sorry, only took pics after it was back together… In place, and in use;

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That was a week ago today. I’d been needling another buddy about going fishing some time soon on that Sunday. Day after I fixed this he sent me a message, lake name and date.  ðŸ˜€ This last Saturday. 

So, we’ll before first light we loaded up andheaded out;

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Two hour drive to the lake, short hike across the lake, we’re set up just after dawn. 3.5 hours of fun later; (yeah, so much fun I never stopped to take pics!)

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Little silver salmon. (Stocked lake). We had hoped on some big lake trout or pike that are usually easy in this lake, but they weren’t biting. I ain’t complaining! It was still great!

I came home 1 short of the daily limit! I’d caught 6, but put 1 back. Another guy caught 5 or 6 he kept. The other guy got 4 that he kept, but has a freezer full of salmon, so he let me have them. Had lots more bites we missed, and some that got off half way up etc.. Good times! 

We didn’t freeze either, and actually fished comfortably outside the tent, only setting it up with the buddy heater to wam up once. 5F with a 5 to 10 mph wind. Dreamy weather for a first trip of the season. (Always a bitch to acclimate yourself to the ice, wind, andfishing at -20F for the first trip out! 😉 )

I gotta say that little Victorianox paring knife is THE sweetest fish cleaning knife I’ve ever had. Thin narrow Wicked laser sharp blade, and a great grippy handle. Love it!

Categories: Adventures, Alaska-Life, Fishing, GetOutdoors, Good Friends, Good Times, Ice Fishing, Improviser, knives, MacGyver, Modifications, Outdoors, Winter

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