The “tip-up” consists of a narrow strip of lath or shingle, with a hole bored through it near the large end. At this end the line is attached, and the hook thrown in the water. A branch is now inserted through the aperture, and its ends are rested across the opening in the ice. No sooner does the fish bite than the long end tips straight in the air, and thus betrays its captive. Ten or fifteen of these contrivances will often keep one pretty busy, and do good service. By some an ordinary cut fish pole, arranged on a crotch, is used instead of the tip-ups just described. Pickerel fishing through the ice is a favorite winter sport in many localities. The line should be about thirty feet in length, and the bait should consist of a small, live fish, hooked through the back. A small cork float should be attached to the line at such a distance as will keep [Page 241] the bait above the bottom, and the superfluous line should be laid in a loose coil near the hole, the end being attached to a small switch or bush, stuck up in the ice near by. The pickerel, on taking the bait, should be allowed to play out the whole line before being pulled in, as the fish requires this time to fully swallow his prey, after which the hook is sure to hold him firmly. Twenty or thirty lines may thus be attended at once, the bush or twig acting the part of a tip-up, or sentinel.
Pickerel spearing is another successful mode of capture during the winter months. A large hole is made in the ice, in about two feet of water, and covered by a spacious box or board hut, six or seven feet square, and provided with a door. The spearman, concealed within, lowers his bait, consisting of an artificial fish with silver fins, made especially for the purpose. This he continually twirls in the water, and as the pickerel approaches the bait, he gradually raises it, until the fish is decoyed nearly to the surface of the water, when a quick stroke of the spear secures his victim, and the line is again lowered. This is capital sport, and is very successful.
There is a very curious device for fishing by night commonly employed by some anglers, and sometimes known as the “lantern, or fish trap.” Many kinds of fish are attracted by a light, but to use a light as a bait, submerged beneath the water, certainly seems odd. It may be done, however, in the following way: The “fish lantern” used for this purpose consists of a bottle containing a solution of phosphorus in sweet oil. Procure a piece of the stick phosphorus the size of a small cherry, and submerging in a saucer of water, proceed to cut it into small pieces. Have in readiness a three-ounce white glass bottle half filled with sweet oil. Drop the pieces of phosphorus into the oil and cork the bottle tightly. In the space of a few hours the phosphorus will have been completely dissolved, and the contents of the bottle will present a thick, luminous fluid, which in a dark room, will afford considerable light. This is the fish lantern.