Minnesota angler Jim Dresch’s dream of making a big impact in the fishing industry has taken a major step toward becoming a reality. Dresch, according to the Echo Press, recently received a patent for an invention designed to make sure you bring home your limit every time you hit the ice. But this is not bait or electronic equipment. Dresch essentially created a trap that pops as soon as the catch enters the hole.
This is undoubtedly a transformative moment in many hard water scenarios. Whether there’s four inches of ice or two feet, fish just have a bad habit of disengaging in those last few seconds. Nets don’t help much, but Dresch’s invention, dubbed Grandpa Jimmy’s Ice Hole Trap, blocks the escape route, giving you a switch to retrieve the catch if that hook come out It’s hard to deny that on the surface, the Ice Hole Trap has merit and function, but it also makes me wonder if devices like this will ever become standards in ice fishing, because Dresch’s creation is certainly not the ‘unique ice artifact.
Open and close
Gadgets and doohickies have flooded the fishing market for decades. The latest that comes to mind is the Chill-N-Reel, a beer koozie with an attached reel that allows fishing in the most primitive sense while knocking back a Bud Light Straw-Ber-Rita. It’s cute and made a good stocking stuffer, but I swear if someone sends me one more video on Instagram, I’m going to lose it. I mention this product because it backs up something I’ve noticed over the years: open water inventions tend to lean more towards the novelty and gimmicky side of things.
Take, for example, the TactiBite Fish Call, an electronic device that you toss wherever you’re fishing. It emits sounds that emulate a feeding frenzy, thus calling out loads of hungry fish. I’m sure the Fish Call was meant to be taken seriously by serious anglers, but I know plenty of serious anglers…and none of them use it.
Ice fishing, on the other hand, is a sport that is already full of gear, many of which have been standard equipment for so long. Notes, at some point, were a new idea. The evolution of the tip-up is the latest line of self-adjusting rod holders like the JawJacker. Unlike many of the new inventions that appear for open water fishing, those created for ice fishing generally seem to be created by people who are serious ice anglers with the goal of solving a genuine problem.
Dresch’s ice hole trap solves a legitimate problem, and I can’t say it’s not cleverly designed. Its height can be adjusted depending on the thickness of the ice, so the trap closes just below the hole. Once you’ve mounted it on the ice, all you have to do is put the fish in the hole, press the pedal, and voila! The exit is sealed.
It’s unclear how well the new ice hole trap would work for larger fish like pike. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald, via Getty Images
As clever as Dresch’s design is, it leaves me with a couple of questions. To my eye, the door in the open position could represent an obstacle when it’s not blocking a fish’s escape route. I’ve spent enough time on the ice to know how simply not cleaning the transducer cable fast enough can lead to headaches. But using the ice hole trap means a lot of metal stuck in the hole at all times. Dresch appears to market the product specifically to anglers chasing crappie and yellow perch. I’m not entirely sure if it would work the same or be as useful with, say, large lake trout or yellowfin. But I do think Dresch has identified enough of a market that Grandpa Jimmy’s Ice Hole Trap could become essential for every frozen lake panfish angler.
The same cannot be said for the Ed’s Bait Transporter.
Simply put, Ed’s Bait Transporter is a wooden board powered by an aquarium pump. There is a downrigger release clip located on the back of the board, and the idea is that you slide the rig through the hole and it moves in a wide circle right under the ice. Theoretically, it allows baits to be placed in a wider area around a single hole, thus covering more water. It also appears in this video (below) as if you can also use it to trot under the ice.
My gut reaction to the Bait Transporter is that it’s trying to make ice fishing feel more like open water fishing. While I give some innovation points to the inventor, it seems to me that it would be easier to drill a bunch of holes than to deploy the current version of the Transporter, which requires power and a very long, thick cable. done troll a massive sink under the ice while the device was within 50 feet of you.
But Ed’s bait carrier also provides food for thought. While the current model may seem a bit silly, is this where ice fishing is headed? There are already arguments about modern cameras and electronics making the sport too easy. A decade from now, will we be placing baits under the ice with sonar-equipped drones? And when we go online, will all ice anglers seal the deal with a 5.0 version of Grandpa Jimmy’s Ice Hole Trap Automatic with Laser?