Title:
Devices and process to keep ice fishing holes from freezing
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A process and devices useful in ice fishing or spearing to keep the water surface in the hole free of ice. The innate reservoir of warm water in a lake or river is utilized with a pump or bubbler to keep the surface of the water above freezing and free of ice. Devices with a small submergible pump, bubbler, or other water transfer means together various inlet and outlet nozzles, inlet and outlet extensions, with a support frame, power source, and operating conveniences are adapted to move the warmer water from lower levels to the surface of the ice hole.



Inventors:
Gifford, Chalres Jacob (Stillwater, MN, US)
Knapton, Roland Benjamin (Fridley, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/182324
Publication Date:
01/18/2007
Filing Date:
07/18/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
43/4, 137/1, 261/24, 366/348, 405/80, 417/53, 417/321
International Classes:
F04B53/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAGMAN, FREDERICK LYNDON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Chalres Gifford (1460 Amundson Lane, Stillwater, MN, 55082, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A process for keeping an ice fishing or spearing hole or multiple holes free of ice comprising the steps of: a) providing a umping or liquid transfer means with an inlet and outlet, and b) using said pumping or liquid transfer means to move water from a warmer location to the surface, and optionally providing a means for adjusting the water transfer type or rate to meet various ice hole supply or maintenance requirements which might be melting or weather related.

2. A process according to claim 1 wherein the liquid transfer means is electrically, mechanically, or manually operated.

3. A process according to claim 1 wherein the liquid transfer means is located in or below the hole in the ice.

4. A process according to claim 1 wherein the inlet for the liquid pumping means is located in a seperate hole in the ice and the outlet of the pump is directed to areas of interest in another hole or holes.

5. A process according to claim 1 wherein a bubbling liquid transfer means directs air to multiple ice holes.

6. A process for moving water to create agitation or various flow patterns in an ice fishing hole to assist and enhance fishing techniques to catch more fish.

7. A device for keeping the water surface of an ice fishing or spearing hole from freezing comprising: a. a pumping or water transfer means with access to warmer water below the surface; b. an outlet from the pumping or water transfer means able to direct the warmer water flow to the surface of the ice fishing hole.

8. A device as recited in claim 7 that utilizes electrical, mechanical, or manual power as a method for creating a water movement.

9. A device as recited in claim 7 where the method of bringing the warm water to the surface comprises a water moving apparatus.

10. A device as recited in claim 7 comprising various means of adjusting the pumping or bubbling flow rate or the ability to adjust the level from which the water is drawn or sourced.

11. A device as recited in claim 7 comprising a method of supplying warmer water to the ice fishing or spearing hole, or series of holes, from an adjacent or different hole in the ice to keep the hole or holes from refreezing.

12. A device as recited in claim 7 comprising a bubbler and inter-connected tubing which provide a method of keeping an ice hole or multiple ice holes from refreezing.

13. A device as recited in claim 7 comprising the addition of sensors and a temperature controller, voltage control, timer or other control to adjust the device's output and the deicing process based on ambient temperature, water temperature, ice hole size or other parameter to provide a desired melting objective.

14. A device according to claim 7 for moving the warmer water from lower levels to the surface of an ice fishing or spearing hole to keep it from freezing comprising: a pump or bubbler placed above or in the ice hole at various depths to move the warmer water to the surface of the hole; a frame with optional legs that provides a stationary location and supports an extending arm or tube, the pump or bubbler, the battery, and accessories and sits adjacent to or above the ice hole and can be adjusted for varying types of fishing or varying heights of water in the ice fishing hole; an extending arm that is attached to the frame for mounting and supporting the pump or bubbler and tubes or hoses in the ice fishing hole with the capability of folding and disassembly for convenient storage and transporting and able to be quickly removed from the ice hole while catching a fish; an extension that can be added to the inlet of the pumping device or means for lowering the bubbler outlet so warmer water from lower levels can be brought to the surface; an adjustable pump or bubbler outlet to direct the water flow to the surface or tailor the flow pattern or bubbling to provide the desired agitation or water movement in the ice fishing hole.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to the field of thermodynamics, hydraulics, the unique properties of water, and more specifically to devices and the process to keep ice fishing and spearing holes from refreezing. Water freezes at 32 F and has a maximum density at 39.2 F, so in a body of water that is covered with ice the temperature will vary from 32 F at the top to approximately 39 F at the bottom because the more dense warm water will sink to the lowest point. Water just below the surface of the ice will be approximately 34F and 4 to 5 feet lower the temperature will be approximately 37F. Warmer and colder water have different viscosities and do not mix readily so ideally one would want to move the warmer water to the surface rather than mix it with the cold water. The dynamic and kinematic viscosity of water both change by more than 15% when the water temperature varies from 32 F to 39 F resulting in specific layers with different temperatures as they move past each other. It follows that an objective is to move the warmer water from lower levels to the surface utilizing various water moving devices and techniques to replace the colder water and thus keep the surface from freezing.

This invention addresses the problem associated with sport ice fishing or spearing in cold weather where the ice holes freeze over or become closed. An ice fishing or spearing hole is bored or chiseled through the ice to the water below to gain access to catch fish. One of the troublesome problems encountered, is the surface of the bored or chiseled holes will freeze and continue to freeze due to the exposure to cold air requiring that the thin layer of ice be periodically strained and removed. Water at the surface of the ice hole freezes because it is exposed to air that is lower than 32 F degrees. The ice will form faster on the surface if the air temperature is very cold and also if the wind is blowing across the open hole. When it is zero degrees F. and the wind is blowing 10 to 15 MPH the open hole will start to freeze in less than 2 minutes. As the thin layer of ice freezes on the surface of the hole, the fishing line or the bobber eventually become frozen in the ice and the quality of fishing deteriorates. With a layer of ice on the top of the hole it is difficult to tell if a fish is biting and difficult to retrieve ones line or pull in a fish through the frozen ice. Rather than continually chopping and straining off the ice it is desirable to have devices and a method to keep the holes free of ice.

Many different means have been tried to keep the ice holes open but none are very desirable or effective for a number of reasons. One group of prior inventions use various scooping devices and strainers to periodically remove the ice as it freezes. These are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,024,757, 4,718,188, 3,857,787, 3,289,850, 5,072,538, 5,140,767, 3,747,253, and 4,978,156.

Another group of inventions reference and describe some sort of a cover or plug for the ice hole to try to keep the cold air from refreezing the hole. Examples of inventions utilizing these protective features are U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,675,523 and 6,526,689.

Another group of art that address this refreezing issue falls into an area where heating devices of some sort are used to try to keep the ice holes open. U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,774,856, 4,006,732, 3,204,630, 4,739,747, 5,844,210, 4,911,141, 3,545,118, 4,612,910, 3,507,268, and 4,294,030 describe the use of electric heaters, propane cartridges, charcoal, or gelled fuel cells to provide heat to keep the ice holes from refreezing.

As one can see numerous attempts have been made to deal with or try to alleviate the formation of ice on the top of the ice hole. There are ways described to improve the scooping and skimming of the ice from the surface, but this still requires the constant attention and effort to remove the ice and it is a distraction from fishing. The references describing covers or plugs for the holes are basically to reduce the ice build up when away from the fishing holes or over night so that new holes do not need to be bored or chiseled. These cannot be used while fishing and they are quite cumbersome to use and handle.

The heated devices to keep the ice from forming have many draw backs and can be quite dangerous. They are expensive to operate because in order to be effective a large amount of fuel or electricity is needed. These devices remain complex and cumbersome, require high manufacturing costs, typically produce insufficient or dispersed heat levels, can cause burning or tangling of the fishing line and exhibit varying degrees of stability when mounted in place. Some of these heated devices require a means to control the heat which in itself is a big drawback. A more serious drawback for some of these heated devices to keep the ice hole open is that they can be dangerous. If someone slipped and fell against them they could be burned severly. In the clamshell ice houses the fabric could easily be ignited and in the ice houses there have been a number of deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

This invention does not require a heating device and operates on a small amount of energy to accomplish the objective of keeping the ice hole open. Warm water from lower levels is moved to the surface of the ice hole by various water moving devices. This invention is inexpensive to produce, portable and user friendly, small in size, and easily transported with other fishing gear. It can be used in any size of fishing hole and can be easily and quickly removed from the ice hole when catching a fish. The most important feature is the ability to keep the ice holes open even at very low temperatures.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One aspect of this invention relates to a small efficient inexpensive device and the process that will keep ice fishing or spearing holes from refreezing even at very low temperatures. The device will transfer warmer water from lower levels to the surface of the hole utilizing a liquid transfer means that is electrically, mechanically, or manually operated, located in or below the hole, or in a seperate hole with the outlet directed to the area of interest in another hole or holes.

Another aspect of the present invention relates to the process and device for moving water to create agitation or various flow patterns in ice fishing holes to assist and enhance fishing techniques to catch more fish.

Yet another aspect of the present invention relates to a device comprising a water moving apparatus with the ability to adjust the transfer rate or the warmer water supply level and incorporate parts such as a pump or bubbler, support frame, power supply, extending arm and inlet, and additional tubing and deflectors as required.

Yet another aspect of the present invention is the utilization of a bubbling source to keep the ice fishing or spearing holes from refreezing with a device for individual holes or comprising a central source with connecting lines that would keep multiple holes free of ice.

Yet another aspect of the present invention is the process and devices for eliminating the ice formation in the fishing or spearing holes require a very small amount of power, are compact, user freindly, and a provide a definite asset that will improve the ice fishing or spearing experience.

Other objectives and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following descriptions, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein, by way of illustration and example, an embodiment of the present invention is disclosed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings constitute a part of this specification and include exemplary embodiments to the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. It is to be understood that in some instances various aspects of the invention may be shown exaggerated or enlarged to facilitate an understanding of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a Cross-Section view of an ice fishing hole.

FIG. 2 is a Cross-Section view of the invention with submerged pumps.

FIG. 3 is a Front-View of the invention in an ice hole.

FIG. 4 is a Cross-Section view on the invention utilizing a Venturi Pump.

FIG. 5 is a Cross-Section View showing water supplied to alternate holes.

FIG. 6 is a Cross-Section View of the invention utilizing a motor with propeller.

FIG. 7 is a Cross-Section View of the invention with Bubbler Assembly.

FIG. 8 is a Cross-Section view of the invention with Bubbler and retractable tubing.

FIG. 9 is a Cross-Section view of the invention with Self Priming pump.

FIG. 10 is a Cross-Section Top View of a pump in a housing designed for the free movement of the fishing line in the ice hole.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. It is to be understood, however, that the present invention may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but rather as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed system, structure or manner.

The detailed description that follows defines the various designs and operation modes for the fishing hole de-icer. While the invention has been described in connection with a specific embodiment, it is not intended to limit the scope of the invention to the particular form set forth, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

FIG. 1 illustrates an ice fishing hole 3 that has been drilled in the ice 1. These holes typically range from 6 to 10 inches in diameter and after the hole is drilled all of the free pieces of ice that are floating in the hole are skimmed off. It is desirable to keep the surface of the ice hole 3 free from ice and especially the ice that forms when it is cold because it disrupts the fishing process. As described earlier in referencing the prior art, numerous attempts have been tried to keep the surface of the ice hole free of ice by utilizing various skimming techniques, heaters, and covers. This invention utilizes the innate energy stored in the warmer water 2 at the bottom of the hole or beneath the ice hole to keep the ice from forming on the ice hole surface. FIG. 1 illustrates that at the bottom of the ice hole or just below the bottom of the ice the water temperature is 33 F to 34 F. Another 3 to 4 feet below the bottom of the ice the water temperature is approximately 37 F and will stay very near that temperature until you get closer to the bottom. The warmest water will be at the bottom of a body of water where the water is the most dense and will be at approximately 39 F. So if a lake was 120 feet deep it would be about 39 F on the bottom and approximately 37 F at 5 feet and at 80 feet deep. At other water depths and on other bodies of water the temperatures may vary somewhat but the water will always be warmer at depths lower than the water surface. This invention utilizes various methods to move the warmer water to the top of the ice hole which prevents the ice from forming or melts ice that may have formed because the warmer water temperature will be above freezing. The energy required to move the warmer water to the surface with small pumps or bubblers is minimal compared to the energy required to heat the water and keep it at a temperature where it will not freeze, especially at 0 F and colder with the wind blowing. FIGS. 2 and 3 show one embodiment where the side view and front view define a device used to keep the ice hole open by moving the warmer water with a small pump. The miniature pump 19 could be located at position ‘A’, position ‘B’, or any other height. The pump in FIG. 2 or FIG. 3 is attached to an arm 15 which extends down into the ice hole 3 and is attached to the main support 10 with a hinge 14 which allows the arm to be folded for easy transporting. The device is designed so the assembly will sit on pointed feet 11 that keep it from moving and sliding into the open ice hole plus the feet seperate the main support from the ice so it does not freeze into the ice. The miniature pump has an outlet 18 that can be adjusted to direct the water flow along with a deflector 17 that can be added to the outlet to create a desired water flow pattern. This flow pattern can be used to assist in eliminating the ice formation and the flow pattern can also be used to increase the chances of catching fish as illustrated in FIG. 2. Many times those fishing choose a method where the bait is attached to the fishing hook and the fishing line 13 is dropped in the ice hole and supported at a certain depth in the water by a bobber 12 attached to the line. Before the invention is utilized the bait is static but when the water in the hole is agitated by the water flow the bobber and fishing line move around the hole with the flow and the bait also moves which may seem more real and appetizing to the fish. The miniature pump can also have an inlet adaptor 16 added which allows an extension 23 or extensions to be introduced. These extensions provide a method to move water from deeper areas and introduce warmer water as illustrated in FIG. 1 so on extremely cold days or at lower flow velocities it may be desirable to introduce warmer water. The extension, inlet to the pump or the outlet of the pump can incorporate a flow control device 21 which will allow the volume of water flowing in the ice hole to be adjusted. FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 also show a temperature control 22 with a sensor 7 that can be utilized with this invention to measure the water or air temperature and then adjust the water flow to desired levels. Depending on the desired water temperature in the ice hole, the pump or bubbler could be turned on or off or voltage adjusted by the controller to change the flow volume or velocity. When it is extremely cold or windy the flow could be increased and when it is warmer the flow could be lowered or shut off so additional ice is not melted and the ice hole becomes too large. As hereinbefore set forth it can be seen that by utilizing extensions 23, flow control devices 21, or temperature controls 22 the temperature of the water and flow rate can be adjusted to keep the ice from forming on the surface of the ice hole without causing additional melting that might increase the size of the ice hole and create other problems. There are 3 other items illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3. A clip 20 is shown attached to the extension arm. This can be utilized to attach the cord from a transducer which is typically suspended in the ice hole to tell the depth of the water, how deep is the bait, or what depth the fish are located. Because the invention device is very portable it can quickly be removed from the ice fishing hole when a fish is on the line and an advantage of having the clip is the transducer will be removed at the same time. Another clip 8 is attached to main support 10 and used to hold the tubing extensions 23 when they are not being utilized or when the device is folded for transporting or storage. The last item that is illustrated is the power source 9 for the pump or bubbler. This power source is illustrated as attached to the main support but it can also come from separate power sources like a car battery or the battery that is typically used with the depth or fish finders. It is evident that when the power source is attached to the main support it provides an advantage where the device is self contained with no extra wires required and the possibility of tripping over the wires. It is to be noted that in referring to FIGS. 2 and 3 we only referenced a submergible pump to move the water from lower levels to the surface of the ice hole, but there are many other means to transfer the water. In later figures we will refer to a bubbler that is utilized to transfer the water but this could also be done with a small mechanical device, a manual hand or foot pump, a compressed gas tank, or a propane powered device. And the power source can be electrical, mechanical, or manual.

FIG. 4 illustrates an alternate design to keep ice from forming on the surface of the ice hole 3. The water pumping to the surface is accomplished by utilizing a venturi design where a sealed miniature motor 30 is mounted in a tube 32 and the propeller 26 attached to the motor shaft pulls the warmer water from lower levels. The warmer water can be pulled from a level near the bottom of the ice or an adaptor 24 can be added to the bottom of the tube and an extension 23 can be added so warmer water from lower levels can be supplied. There are larger commercial versions utilizing this venturi design where ⅓ HP to 1 HP line voltage motors pump enough warm water to keep areas around boats or complete harbors and docks free from ice. This invention includes the option of incorporating this type of design where a small portable version utilizing the venturi flow in a tube 32 is attached to a support frame 10 and includes a battery type of power supply 9 to make it easy to transport and very efficient at keeping the ice from forming in the fishing hole. This design can also have a deflector 35 that will generate the flow pattern or agitation desired to keep ice from forming, or reduce localized melting with the ice hole becoming bigger, or to provide for the movement of the bobber and fishing line to attract fish. Movement of warmer water through colder water is quite stratified where little mixing occurs so specific deflector designs can be utilized to assist the mixing if this is desired.

FIG. 5 shows where this invention is useful to keep more than one ice fishing hole free of ice. A single or central pump 38 can supply warm water to multiple holes 3 through a series of ‘Y’s, Tee's, or a manifold. Insulated lines 33 can be used very efficiently where a pump, requiring a very small amount of power compared to heaters, can deliver warmer water pulled from lower levels to many ice fishing holes. This technique is very useful in ice fishing houses which can have 10 or more holes and have a desire to keep the fishing holes from freezing over night. It is also useful where a person fishing does not want an additional device in the hole where they are fishing, yet still want to keep ice from forming on the surface of the hole.

FIG. 6 displays an alternative version of the venturi type of pumping device which was defined with FIG. 4. This alternative design utilizes a motor 37 that is not submerged but rather is mounted above the water and has a long thin shaft extending down into the tube 32 in the water with a propeller 26 attached. The performance of this design will be the same as that defined with FIG. 4 but it can be less expensive in this way because the motor is not required to be waterproof. It is to be noted that this design can utilize the same deflectors as described in FIG. 4. Upon further inspection of FIG. 6 it will be seen that a different power supply is illustrated. A Gel Cell type of battery 25 is shown which can be utilized with any of the designs described herein. A typical rechargeable Gel Cell battery, and those used with the portable fish finders, have a capacity of 7.2 Amp/hours which will run the small pumps for a number of days. It is found in practice that a Gel Cell battery with a pumping device can easily keep one or more ice fishing holes open over night, which is highly desirable.

FIG. 7 illustrates yet another device that is useful in keeping ice holes 3 free of ice. A bubbler 31 can be utilized to move warmer water to the surface of the hole and thereby keep it from refreezing. This portable bubbler system can utilize the same type of power supply 9, frame support 10, and folding arm 15 as previous designs plus it has an extending arm 33 that can position the air hose 39 at lower levels. It follows that this bubbler system can be used to keep multiple ice holes open similar to that described in FIG. 5 for the pumping devices. As described and illustrated with FIG. 5, a central bubbler supply could provide an air supply to multiple ice holes through a series of tubes and thus move the warmer water to the surface at multiple locations keeping the holes free of ice.

Similarly FIG. 8 illustrates one of many designs that could utilize the bubbler principle to provide the ice holes 3 free of ice. In this more complex design a bubbler 31 supplies the air through a retractable reel 44 that allows the end or outlet of the air hose 39 to be lowered to various depths. A weight 46 would be added to the end of the hose to hold it from rising as the air is pumped. A flow control 42 can be utilized with this device to increase or decrease the air supply, as desired, and an inline heat exchanger 47 can also be added to increase the temperature of the air supply, if this is required. A temperature sensor 7 and control system 22, as described with FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 could be utilized with these bubbler designs. The air volume, air temperature, and air outlet depth can all be controlled to affect the water temperature and melting at the surface of the ice hole.

Upon inspection of FIG. 9 it can be seen that there are numerous designs that can be utilized to move the warmer water to the surface of the ice hole 3 to accomplish the objective of eliminating ice from forming. FIG. 9 shows a simple inexpensive device and one can see that the invention is not limited to the designs described in this section. The simple design utilizes 2 ‘D’ cell batteries 53 as the power source combined with a modified self priming venturi pumping system. This design has a molded top with a screw cap 58 that holds the batteries and a small DC motor 37. The motor shaft is connected to a thin rod 47 that extends down a tube 36 with a propeller 26 or finned disk on the bottom. In operation the warmer water is pumped up the tube and exits from a nozzle 48 near the top of the ice hole. This simple assembly can easily be inserted and removed from a slot 51 in a support frame 10. It is obvious that if a longer running design were desired that the ‘D’ cell batteries could be replaced by a power supply 25 with more capacity and connected to the same motor through terminals 60 with wires 54 or a recoiling cable. Thus the assembly could be easily and quickly removed when catching a fish.

One of the preferred designs is shown in FIG. 10. The support frame, power supply, and inlet tubing are not illustrated, but they would be similar to those described in the previous discussions. This illustration shows the ice hole 3 with a pump assembly positioned on one side of the hole. Also illustrated is the fishing line 13 with a bobber 12 attached. The main objective of this invention is to keep the ice hole from refreezing by moving warmer water to the surface of the hole, but a further objective is to increase the chances of catching fish by moving the fishing line in the ice hole. Warmer water would be supplied to the pump 19 by tubing 65. This warmer water would exit the pump through the outlet with nozzle 18 and be directed to create a flow pattern 62 in the ice hole so the bobber and fishing line would move around in the hole. The perimeter of the pump housing 61 would be angled, concave, or have a thin geometry such that the bobber and line would not be restricted or caught as the flow pattern moves it around the ice hole. This preferred design will also have a provision to hold the transducer cable from a fish finder 63 and have a handle on the top so it can be quickly removed when catching a fish.