The Budget Ice Angler

February is the only month of the year when your boat works better without a motor. Here's what I mean: Take the outboard off your jonboat and run a line off the bow as a yoke. What you now have is a great ice-fishing sled. Don't want to blow a bunch of cash on ice-fishing gear you only use a few months per year? Become the Budget Ice Angler.

PUNCHING HOLES: Who says you have to drop $100 on a fancy ice auger? Instead, duct tape a chisel to the end of your boathook. You'll be able to punch through 6" ice in about five minutes.

ROD BUILDING: Short rods let you fish right next to your holes. Don't spend your hard-earned cash - make them with broken rods. Cut off the busted rod at the grip, then at 2' from the tip. Insert the top into the grip and secure it by wrapping it with rodbuilding thread. Coat with epoxy, and you've got an ice rod as good as any that's store bought.

TIP TRIP: Most ice anglers open up a half-dozen holes, then leave "tip-ups" in the ones they aren't actively fishing. When a fish bites, the tip-up raises a flag and the angler comes rushing over. Instead of spending $100 on a half-dozen tip-ups, spend $10 on quill bobbers. Build a small ice pile next to your hole, attach a bobber to your line, and prop it on top of the ice hill. The quill will be visible from several yards away and will fall down when a fish hits.

Still not convinced ice fishing is worth the effort? You've only got one option left: Hop on a plane and head for sunny Florida. You'll never catch a bonefish through the ice, anyway.