Tuesday, February 12, 2019

What's In A Name?

Tip-ups, tilts, traps—whatever you call them—are a standard piece of equipment for ice anglers. They come in an array of shapes and sizes for different situations and styles of fishing. My go-to traps are Heritage Lakers. Each one is handmade in Maine from white ash. They can be cumbersome when lugging around a full set of six traps, but they are dependable and can take a beating. 

Most of mine are more than ten years old now. Their components are a bit tired—the flags don’t snap to attention like they used to—but they get the job done and I love them like old friends. I’ve spent many a night over a work bench tinkering with them or swapping out leaders. Each one of their bright orange flags has a name written on it. Maybe it is habit or superstition perhaps, but I’ve been naming my tip-ups ever since I got into ice fishing. Here are the stories behind their names. 

The first Heritage Laker that I ever purchased was from Kittery Trading Post and I named it Old Faithful. Wish I could say it's named after the famous Yellowstone geyser, but I haven’t made it there yet. It’s just a reliable piece of gear and usually the first trap out of my sled any given outing. It has fished classic waters from Sebago Lake to Lake George and if this tip-up could talk, it would have some cool stories to tell.

It is family lore that my eldest brother was almost named Tecumseh after the famous Shawnee warrior and chief. My dad ended up losing that battle to my mom and Gavin he became. I’ve always been big into Native American culture and history and enjoy looking for their long lost artifacts. Naming one of my traps Tecumseh was a nod of respect to the people that fished and hunted these lands before us.

I fell in love with this name after seeing the classic Wes Anderson film 'The Royal Tenenbaums.' A couple scenes in the movie show Richie Tenenbaum practicing falconry on a New York City rooftop. His badass bird was a Saker Falcon named Mordecai. That’s it. 

It’s hard to nail down exactly what mojo means. Lucky comes close. Surfcasters often speak of mojo when referring to favorite battle-worn plugs. Tip-ups can have mojo too. This one lives up to its name and has been part of some of my largest fish through the ice. 

The winter solstice has been celebrated for eons. In the northern hemisphere, it’s the shortest period of daylight of the year. Each day afterward, until the summer solstice, we see the gradual lengthening of days. It’s not every year that there is fishable ice in Connecticut by the winter solstice, but it’s a good sign if there is. 

Sleeper is always the last tip-up I set. It’s purposely put a little out of the way—either at the end of my trap line or behind the shelter slightly out of sight. It’s the trap I want to set and forget and hope to see with a flag up when I remember to check it. More than once it’s been Sleeper that has saved the day out there for me.