Over the years, I’ve collected many ideas for easy fishing projects. Most were shared by fellow anglers. A few are my own crude inventions. Each will help you construct an affordable gadget you’ll find handy at home or on fishing excursions.
Each project can be completed in less than an hour by a competent do-it-yourselfer. Most can be made with recycled materials. All have been field tested. They should serve you well, and save you money, too.
Pool Noodle Fishing “Jugs”
If you enjoy jug fishing for catfish or other fish, try making your floats with the long, hollow, closed-foam “noodles” your kids float on in the swimming pool. These signal a strike better than regular jugs because when a fish takes your bait, the noodle stands up and waves around.
Cut one 5-foot noodle into three 20-inch floats. Drill a hole through each noodle (side to side) about four inches from one end. Make the hole large enough to accommodate a piece of plastic drinking straw or metal tubing as long as the noodle is wide. Run the straw or tubing through the hole. This serves as a protective sleeve that keeps your fishing line from cutting through the foam when a fish is on.
Next, cut a 4-foot piece of stout fishing line. Run it through the sleeve, and tie the line securely around the noodle. To the line’s lower end, tie a three-way swivel. To the swivel’s bottom eye, tie another piece of line six feet long. Add a hook and sinker to this. To the other eye of the swivel, tie a 2-foot leader line with a hook on the end. Rigged this way, you can fish two baits at different depths, which should increase your catch. If you’re “noodling” at night, add reflective tape around each noodle’s top so they shine when a flashlight beam hits them.
Bankfishing Rod Holder
If you often fish from shore, you probably employ rod holders that allow hands-free fishing while you wait for a bite. You can make an inexpensive version from a 3-foot section of 1 ½-inch x 1 ½-inch x 1/8-inch angle iron, a 12-inch piece of PVC pipe (1 ½-inch diameter) and two 2-inch hose clamps. Bevel one end of iron for easy insertion into the soil. Attach the PVC pipe to the other end with the clamps, and you’re done. You can weld or bolt a crosspiece 12 inches above the angled end so you can push the holder into the soil with your foot.
Sometimes it’s not feasible to tote a heavy anchor on fishing trips. An anchor, however, is a necessary evil where current and/or wind would otherwise make it difficult to stay over a good fishing spot.
One workable solution to this problem is a soft-sided anchor made from an old truck or car tire inner tube. The lightweight tube becomes an anchor when you reach the shoreline, where you fill it with rocks or sand to give it the weight needed to keep your boat stationary.
Cut a 2- to 3-foot piece from the inner tube. For a heavier anchor, use a longer piece. For lightweight boats on relatively calm water, a shorter section may suffice. Tie off one end with a piece of wire or nylon cord. After adding rocks or sand, tie the top off with another piece of wire or cord wrapped tightly around the bunched mouth. Attach the weighted bag to your anchor line and toss it overboard. If you expect heavy current or strong winds, take two anchor bags along – one each for bow and stern.
Travel Rod Case
When traveling, it’s helpful to have a hard-sided, protective case in which to carry your fishing rods. Factory-made models can be expensive, but you can make an inexpensive version that will hold several rods from a length of 4-inch diameter PVC pipe.
Cut the pipe about two inches longer than your longest rod. Use PVC glue to secure an end cap on one end, after cutting a piece of foam packing material to fit inside the cap. You need a cap for the other end as well, with a piece of foam fit inside it, too. Slide your rods in the tube (one with the butt in, the next with the butt out, etc.), place the loose cap on, then tape securely with duct tape. Your rods should now travel safely to your destination.
Outdoor Fish Cleaning Table
Need a place to clean fish when you bring them home? Buy an old double sink at a junk dealer. I purchased a stainless-steel model for $12 at a store that sells damaged freight. Cut a piece of ½-inch marine plywood slightly larger than the dimensions of the sink, and 2 ½ to 3 feet longer. Use a jigsaw to cut a rectangular hole in the plywood that will accommodate the sink. Cut the hole off-center, so when the sink is placed, part of the board extends to one side, forming a countertop workspace.
Use treated 2-inch x 4-inch lumber to build a frame that will support the cleaning table. It should be high enough you won’t have to stoop over when working – about 42 inches. Fasten the plywood on top, drop in the sink, and you’re in business. Place in a location you can reach with your garden hose. Leave one drain hole open, and place a 5-gallon bucket beneath to catch scraps. Plug the other side, which is where you’ll place fish as you finish cleaning them. An old clipboard can be screwed onto the countertop to secure fish for scaling or filleting.
I’ve seen more than one vehicle, boat and trailer slide into the drink at an inclined launch ramp when the vehicle’s brakes failed. To prevent such a catastrophe, make some chock blocks using a 2-foot piece of 6-inch x 6-inch treated wood. Halve the piece of wood, using a 45-degree cut. Drill ½-inch holes crosswise through each block. Lay the blocks side by side with the holes aligned, and thread an eight-foot piece of 3/8-inch nylon rope through the holes in both blocks. Tie a knot in each end of the rope, so the blocks are connected and won’t slide off.
When launching your boat, place the chocks behind your vehicle’s rear wheels. Drape the rope over the trailer tongue. This prevents the vehicle from rolling backward, and when you pull away, the chocks will drag behind the vehicle until you remove them.