Ice Fishing

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! 🙂 

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Categories: Backcountry, Camping gear, Custom, Customized, Field gear, GetOutdoors, Ice Fishing, Modifications, New Gear, Outdoors, Preparedness, Truck gear | 1 Comment

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.  😀 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 | Leave a comment

First ice fishing of the season!

Up at 4am, me a buddy at 530, little over an hours drive, short walk(100 yards..) to the spot, we were on Birch Lake and fishing by 7. 

Wasn’t too cold at around 0 to 5F but the steady breeze at 8 or 10 mph with gusts to 25 or 30 mph was COLD!!

An Eskimo shelter and double bottle propane buddy heater fixed that… 

in the 10 minutes from drilling the holes, till we got setup the holes started to ice over… an hour later we had it so warm in there, basically t shirt weather, we’d melted all the remaining slush from the holes… ha! 

yeah man, between the shelter, the heater, and the gas ice auget, we were really roughing it! LOL.  

My haul of rainbow trout and silver salmon. The biggest, the rainbows were a little over 12″. I’d caught about 7 total, kept 4, and my buddy let me have a couple of his, he’d gotten about 10, kept 7 or so… Not bad for first trip of the season! 😎👍👍
3 rainbows made dinner, the rest froze for later, first time I’ve ever gotten 2 meals from a single ice fishing trip!

 Also first time I’ve eaten rainbow trout; pretty dang good!  Good flavor, mild but not bland. Not as dreamy as the big Lake trout I had last summer, but still great! 

Don’t think I actually posted this knife here when I got it last month, but my new Case Cutlery 47 frame Muskrat pattern folder makes a fantastic fish cleaning knife! Long slim razor sharp blades are a dream to use. 

I normally use a Case Sodbuster Jr. but it was a little duller than I needed this time, and being already slimy and bloody, it was too much trouble to sharpen it. So I simply grabbed my recent edc, the Muskrat. 

Categories: Adventures, Alaska-Life, EDC, EDC/MT use, Fishing, Hunting, Ice Fishing, knives, Outdoors, Winter

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