Title:
Fishing assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fishing assembly is provided that includes a wireless sonar attached to a trolling assembly.



Inventors:
Gierke, Charles (Hudson, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/338040
Publication Date:
07/26/2007
Filing Date:
01/24/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63H21/17
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
OLSON, LARS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FISH & RICHARDSON P.C. (TC) (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
1. A fishing assembly comprising a wireless sonar attached to a planar board.

2. The fishing assembly of claim 1 wherein the wireless sonar is permanently attached to the planar board.

3. The fishing assembly of claim 2, wherein the wireless sonar is permanently attached to the planar board at an angle θ relative to the longitudinal axis of the back portion of the planar board.

4. The fishing assembly of claim 1, wherein the wireless sonar is removable.

5. The fishing assembly of claim 1, wherein the wireless sonar is moveably attached to the planar board.

6. The fishing assembly of claim 5, wherein the wireless sonar can be moveably attached to the planar board at an angle θ relative to the longitudinal axis of the back portion of the planar board.

7. The fishing assembly of claim 6, wherein said wireless sonar is fixed at said angle θ.

8. The fishing assembly of claim 1, wherein the wireless sonar further comprises a wet switch.

9. The fishing assembly of claim 1, wherein the wireless sonar determines a depth of a body of water or a location of fish.

10. The fishing assembly of claim 1, wherein the planar board is selected from the group consisting of an inline planer board and a mast-style planer board.

11. A fishing system comprising: a fishing assembly, wherein the fishing assembly comprises a wireless sonar attached to a planar board; and a receiver module, wherein the receiver module receives and interprets signals from the wireless sonar.

12. The fishing system of claim 11, wherein the receiver module comprises a display screen.

13. The fishing system of claim 11, wherein the planar board is selected from the group consisting of an inline planer board and a mast-style planer board.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to fishing equipment, and more particularly to a wireless sonar attached to a trolling assembly.

BACKGROUND

Game fish often stalk and strike their prey as it moves through the water. Fishing from a moving boat, or “trolling”, allows for the prey (e.g., the bait or the lure) to be constantly moving, and is often a successful method used to catch game fish. Game fish such as salmon, steelhead, brown trout, walleye, striper, white bass, northern pike and numerous other species often are caught by trolling.

Trolling, however, can cause other problems. For example, the boat, along with its noisy engine and the wake it creates, often spooks the fish. In fact, many fish species, particularly those found in shallow water, routinely move away from a boat's path. Therefore, trolling assemblies such as planer boards, outriggers, and the like often are used to move a fishing line away from the boat.

SUMMARY

This disclosure provides a fishing assembly that includes a wireless sonar attached to a trolling assembly. A trolling assembly includes, for example, an inline planer board or a mast-style planer board. In some embodiments, a wireless sonar can be permanently attached to a trolling assembly, or a wireless sonar can be removable. In other embodiments, a wireless sonar can be moveably attached to a trolling assembly. For example, a wireless sonar can be attached to a trolling assembly at an angle θ relative to the longitudinal axis of the back portion of the trolling assembly. In some embodiments, a wireless sonar can be fixed at an angle θ. A wireless sonar suitable for use in a fishing assembly described herein can have a wet switch. Generally, a wireless sonar determines the depth of the body of water or the location of fish in the body of water.

The invention also provides for a fishing system that includes a fishing assembly as described herein and a receiver module. A receiver module can receive and interpret signals from the wireless sonar. Usually, a receiver module has a display screen.

Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, suitable methods and materials are described below. In addition, the materials, methods, and examples are illustrative only and not intended to be limiting. All publications, patent applications, patents, and other references mentioned herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety. In case of conflict, the present specification, including definitions, will control.

The details of one or more embodiments of the invention are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, objects, and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the drawings and detailed description, and from the claims.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a wireless sonar mounted internally in a trolling assembly. FIG. 1A shows a side view; and FIG. 1B shows a bottom view.

FIG. 2 shows a wireless sonar mounted externally at the back of a trolling assembly. The wireless sonar has a battery access door. FIG. 2A shows a side view; and FIG. 2B shows a bottom view.

FIG. 3 shows a wireless sonar mounted externally to the side of a trolling assembly. FIG. 3A shows a side view; and FIG. 3B shows a bottom view.

Like reference symbols in the various drawings indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A fishing assembly as described herein generally includes a wireless sonar attached to a trolling assembly. Fishing assemblies such as those described herein are useful for monitoring the location of game fish as well as the bottom surface (e.g., contour and depth) of a body of water (e.g., a lake, a river, an ocean, or a sea) away from a moving boat. The advantages include, but are not limited to, a reduced likelihood that fish will be disturbed or spooked by the boat motor or the wake produced from the boat, and more accurate presentation of bait or lures near fish-holding structures such as sunken islands, wrecks, reefs, or rock piles.

A trolling assembly as used herein refers to any means by which bait or a lure can be moved away from the boat (e.g., to the side of or behind the boat). For example, a trolling assembly can be, without limitation, a planer board. Planer boards are known in the art. Planer boards utilize their shape and the water pressure created by the boat's forward progress to force them out to the side of the moving boat. Planer boards are typically made from buoyant plastic or wood, and generally have a rectangular shape with a tapered front end to minimize diving and flying. Planer boards are used to increase the width of a trolling spread, and allow for much more versatility in the presentation of the bait or lure than when a line is simply run out behind a boat.

There are generally two types of planer boards: inline boards (also known as sideplaner boards) and dual boards (also known as mast-style planer boards). Inline or sideplaner boards attach directly to the fishing line, while a dual board or a mast-style planer board is attached to a mast-mounted tow-line with the fishing lines attached to the tow-line. Typical inline or sideplaner boards can be, for example, about 10 inches×3½inches or smaller, while typical mast planer boards are considerably larger (e.g., some dual planer boards can have ten times the surface area of inline planer boards).

Whether mast-mounted or tied inline, a planer board used in a fishing assembly described herein can include any or all of the characteristics of or available with conventional planer boards. These characteristics include, without limitation, fins (e.g., side fins), adjustable weights to keep the planer board tracking, line clip mechanisms, a strike release, a flag (e.g., a spring-loaded flag with, for example, an adjustable tension indicator), and/or a light (e.g., for night fishing).

The Church Tackle Co. (Sodus, Mich.), Off Shore Tackle Co./Riviera (Port Austin, Mich.), Big Jon (Traverse City, Mich.), and Cannon/Bottom Line (Meridian, Id.) are representative manufacturers of inline and dual planer boards. In addition, representative planer boards are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,826,365; 6,256,924; and 6,789,350, which are incorporated herein by reference.

One of the few drawbacks of trolling assemblies, however, is that the user is not able to monitor conditions such as depth, water temperature, and/or the position of a weed line or other targeted fish holding structure away from the boat where the trolling assembly positions the bait or lure. Such conditions often are monitored directly underneath a boat with a conventional fish finder, but conditions in a body of water can change significantly over a relatively short distance. Therefore, it would be advantageous to a user to have sonar and/or other capabilities (e.g., a global positioning system (GPS)) attached to a planer board or a similar trolling assembly and to be able to monitor such conditions at positions away from the boat (e.g., wirelessly).

Sonar (SOund Navigation And Ranging) technology was first developed during World War I and is very well known in the art. In addition to military uses, sonar technology is used routinely in oceanography and in sport fishing. Representative fish locators or fish finders that utilize sonar are described in, without limitation, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,425,635; 4,686,659; 4,879,697; 5,184,330; 5,999,490; 6,325,020; and 6,980,484, which are incorporated herein by reference.

Wireless technology also is known in the art and generally encompasses frequency ranges of 9 kHz to 300 GHz. Although frequencies in the radio frequency (RF) range frequently are used in wireless devices, a fishing assembly can be designed to use any wireless frequency that is suitable for transmission of data from the fishing assembly to a receiver module. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,693,847; 6,771,562; and 6,724,688; and Goldsmith, 2005, Wireless Communications, Cambridge University Press; Rappaport, 2002, Wireless Communications: Principles and Practice, 2nd Edition, Prentice Hall PTR; and Stallings, 2001, Wireless Communications and Networks, Prentice Hall.

A wireless sonar suitable for use in a fishing assembly as described herein generally includes a sonar transmitter, a sonar receiver, a transducer, a wireless transmitter, and a microprocessor. The microprocessor generally controls the sonar transmit-receive cycle (e.g., the amount of time between receiving a sonar signal and transmitting the next sonar signal, and/or the length of time each sonar signal is transmitted), interprets the sonar data received from the transducer, and controls the signals being sent from the wireless transmitter to a remote receiver module (see below). Representative wireless sonar suitable for use in a fishing assembly as described herein include those disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,693,847; 6,771,562; and 6,724,688, which are incorporated herein by reference.

Typically, a wireless sonar also includes a battery to supply power to the necessary components. A wireless sonar can be designed to utilize any of a number of different battery configurations including replaceable and/or rechargeable configurations. See, for example, Herman, 1999, Delmar's Standard Textbook of Electricity, 2nd Edition, Delmar Publishers.

A wireless sonar also can include an antenna for transmitting and receiving the wireless signals. The antenna of a wireless sonar may utilize one or more of a number of configurations. The particular antenna configuration used in a wireless sonar may be dependent upon, for example, the trolling distance (i.e., the distance between the wireless sonar and the remote receiver module) and, therefore, the signal distance. In some embodiments, antenna configurations can be distinguished by a set of parameters such as resonance frequency, input impedance, bandwidth, radiation pattern, gain, and/or polarization.

A wireless sonar also can include a wet-switch such that minimal to no battery power is used when the fishing assembly is dry. Wet-switches and the like are known in the art. See, for example, Condensate Overflow Protector (Beckett Corp.); Wet Switch Stop the Flood (Wagner Manufacturing), AquaSwitch (EDC International Ltd.); and Low Voltage Auxiliary Condensate Switch (Little Giant Pump Co.) as well as U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,693,847; 6,771,562; and 6,724,688.

The components of a wireless sonar can be housed within a single water-resistant housing, or can be separated into two or more water-resistant housings that are in communication with one another. For example, in one embodiment, certain components (e.g., the sonar transmitter, the sonar receiver, and the transducer) can be located in a water-resistant housing that is attached to a trolling assembly at a position that maintains an appropriate relationship between the sonar components and the water, while other components (e.g., the antenna) can be located in another water-resistance housing that is positioned at or near the top of the trolling assembly.

A water-resistant housing also can be designed to have a water-proof door or similar type of access such that, for example, the battery can be replaced or recharged. Alternatively, a water-resistant housing can contain a port or other type of receptacle, for example, to plug in and charge an internal battery from an external source. Such a port or other receptacle could be capped or covered during use of the fishing assembly.

A wireless sonar can be mounted to a trolling assembly in any number of ways. FIG. 1 shows an internally-mounted embodiment of a fishing assembly 1 in which the wireless sonar 10 is attached within a void or a recess in the trolling assembly 20. Representative line clips 30 also are shown. FIG. 1A shows a side view of a fishing assembly 1 and FIG. 1B shows a bottom view. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, an antenna node 10a is shown attached to the top of the trolling assembly 20.

FIG. 2 shows an externally-mounted embodiment of a fishing assembly 1. The wireless sonar 10 shown in the fishing assembly 1 is attached to the back of the trolling assembly 20 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 2. As with FIG. 1, FIG. 2 shows representative line clips 30. FIG. 2 also shows a mounting unit 15 that can be used to permanently or removably attach a wireless sonar 10 to a trolling assembly 20. The wireless sonar shown in FIG. 2 has an access door 12 (e.g., a water-proof door) such that, for example, a battery within the wireless sonar 10 can be replaced or recharged. It would be understood by those of skill in the art that any type of access into the trolling assembly or wireless sonar would need to be waterproof.

FIG. 3 shows another externally-mounted embodiment of a fishing assembly 1. The wireless sonar 10 shown in the fishing assembly 1 is attached to the side of the trolling assembly 20 in FIG. 3. As with FIGS. 1 and 2, FIG. 3 shows representative line clips 30. FIG. 3 also shows a mounting unit 15 that can be used to permanently or removably attach a wireless sonar 10 to a trolling assembly 20. The side-mounted embodiment shown in FIG. 3 has an antenna that extends above the top of the trolling assembly 20.

A wireless sonar can be permanently attached to a trolling assembly or a wireless sonar can be removable. Mounting units optionally can be used for permanent or removable attachment of the wireless sonar to a trolling assembly. Mounting units are known in the art. For example, a wireless sonar can be configured to be removed from one trolling assembly (e.g., a planer board) and attached to another trolling assembly (e.g., a different planer board). In other embodiments, a wireless sonar or a mounting unit for mounting a wireless sonar is manufactured as an integral portion of a trolling assembly. Alternatively, a wireless sonar or a mounting unit therefore can be attached, for example, by a user (e.g., a consumer) to an existing trolling assembly.

As can be seen from the representative embodiments shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3, a wireless sonar can be manufactured in any number of different sizes and shapes. It is understood by those of skill in the art, however, that whatever the shape, size, mounting means (e.g., internal or external), and attachment means (e.g., permanent or removable, with or without a mounting unit), a wireless sonar should not significantly increase the drag or change the balance of a trolling assembly. In some embodiments, weights can be introduced or added to a trolling assembly (e.g., by a manufacturer or by a user) to accommodate a wireless sonar.

FIGS. 1 and 3 show a wireless sonar 10 positioned essentially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis L of the back portion of the planer board. Depending upon a variety of factors including the weight, size, and depth of the bait or lure, a planer board does not always plane exactly level with the water surface during trolling. Therefore, essentially perpendicular as shown in FIG. 1 might not be the optimal angle. To accommodate the position of the trolling assembly during trolling, the recess or void within the trolling assembly, and similarly, the wireless sonar placed therein, can be positioned at an angle θ relative to the longitudinal axis L of the back portion of a planer board. For example, an angle θ of approximately 60° relative to the longitudinal axis L of the back portion of a planer board may maintain the position of the wireless sonar substantially downward toward the bottom of the body of water when trolling at an appropriate speed.

A wireless sonar can be attached to a trolling assembly such that the wireless sonar is maintained in a fixed position. A wireless sonar can be fixed at any angle θ relative to the longitudinal axis L of the back portion of a trolling assembly. The angle θ of a fixed wireless sonar (relative to the longitudinal axis L of the back portion of a trolling assembly) can be predetermined (e.g., by the manufacturer, based on the dimensions of the trolling assembly) or can be adjustably fixed by a user, for example, to accommodate different trolling speeds.

In addition, a wireless sonar can be attached to a trolling assembly in a manner that allows the wireless sonar to move, usually in a controlled manner. For example, the wireless sonar may swing in a pendulum-like or partial pendulum-like fashion relative to a longitudinal axis L of a trolling assembly. In certain embodiments, a wireless sonar can include one or more angular rate sensors that serve to maintain a position of the wireless sonar itself or of the sonar transducer-receiver component of the wireless sonar that is directed substantially downward toward the bottom of the body of water independent of the position of the trolling assembly and, thus, independent of the trolling speed. Angular rate sensor technology is known in the art. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,952,572; 6,345,533; 6,584,410; 6,415,643; and 6,658,937.

In addition to maintaining a desired position, angular rate sensors also can be used to reduce unwanted movement. For example, angular rate sensors that remove or filter out vibrational interference due to excessive movement are well known in the art. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,305,222 and 6,155,115. Angular rate sensors can include, but are not limited to, gyroscopes such as piezoelectric rate gyroscopes.

In some embodiments, a microprocessor can be used in conjunction with one or more of the above-mentioned components to maintain a downward direction regardless of the position of the trolling assembly or, alternatively, to maintain a particular angle θ as determined by the user. In addition, a microprocessor can use the data provided by the one or more angular rate sensors to compute the correct depth of the water even when the sonar transducer-receiver component is not positioned exactly downward. It is understood by those of skill in the art that the position and/or directionality referred to herein of the wireless sonar or of the sonar transducer-receiver component of the wireless sonar refers to the conical area toward which and from which, respectively, the sonar transducer-receiver is directed and gathering information.

A system is described herein that includes a fishing assembly (e.g., a wireless sonar attached to a trolling assembly) and a compatible receiver module. A receiver module is compatible with a fishing assembly when the receiver module is able to receive and interpret signals from the wireless sonar. A receiver module can be designed to analyze any signal received from the wireless sonar (e.g., valid signals as well as noise or interference), but to only display the valid signals (e.g., sync pulses).

The receiver module typically includes a visual display that can be used to determine, for example, the depth, the water temperature, the composition of the bottom surface, the location of fish, and/or the size of a fish. A receiver module can be portable, or can be mounted to an object or a surface (e.g., to the dashboard of a boat). The receiver module can have black and white or a color visual display, and also can have a split screen.

The receiver module also can include additional features such as a GPS, programmable memory for marking positions or objects, weather information (e.g., ambient temperature, barometric pressure, and/or solar/lunar schedules), and/or the ability to add (e.g., download) additional data (e.g., updated satellite pictures and/or information). Receiver modules that are compatible with wireless sonar are known in the art, and are disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,693,847; 6,771,562; and 6,724,688.

Briefly, a fishing assembly that includes an inline or sideplaner board can be used as follows. While the boat is moving, the line with the bait or lure is let out to a desired distance A. The desired distance A is the amount of line that will be underwater (e.g., the amount of line to reach the desired depth). At the desired distance A, the planer board portion of the fishing assembly is attached to the line (e.g., using a line clip 30) and placed in the water. The fishing line is further let out to a desired distance B. The distance B is the distance from the planer board to the boat. The distance of B during trolling can be about 30 feet, but lengths of 125 feet or more are not uncommon. To remove a fishing assembly from a fishing line, the planer board is reeled in and the line is released from the line clip 30. The remaining line with the bait or lure and the fish then are reeled in.

A fishing assembly that includes a dual or mast-style planer board can be used as follows. While the boat is moving, a dual or mast-style planer board is attached to the tow-line, and the tow-line is let out from the mast. After the tow-line has been let out a desired distance, the fishing line(s) are attached to the tow-line (e.g., with one or more line clip mechanisms). The fishing line is attached to the tow-line at a desired distance A from the bait or lure. The desired distance A is the length of line that will be underwater (e.g., the depth of the bait or lure in the water). The tow-line with the fishing line attached is then let out to the desired distance B. The distance B is the distance of the line from the boat. Masts can be fitted with one or more reels to take in or let out the tow-line.

Oftentimes, multiple trolling assemblies are used to move multiple lines away from the boat and to keep the lines from tangling. Each trolling assembly need not have a wireless sonar attached thereto, however, multiple fishing assemblies (i.e., multiple wireless sonar) can be used on the same boat to, for example, obtain information (e.g., depth, water temperature, and the presence and size of fish) from both sides. Multiple fishing assemblies can be used provided each wireless sonar can transmit signal on a different channel. As discussed herein, a receiver module can have a split screen to accommodate signals from more than one wireless sonar.

Given that a boat is constantly moving, particularly while trolling, simple multiple channels (e.g., channels A and B) might not be sufficient to consistently distinguish a multitude of signals that might be encountered on a body of water. Thus, in some embodiments, each wireless sonar can possess a unique identification number. For example, one or more identification numbers can be programmed into a compatible receiver module such that the receiver module will receive signals only from the corresponding fishing assembly or assemblies to the exclusion of other fishing assemblies in the vicinity.

The invention also provides for articles of manufacture. For example, an article of manufacture can include a fishing assembly as described herein (i.e., a trolling assembly and a wireless sonar). Alternatively, an article of manufacture can include a wireless sonar and an appropriate mounting unit. In other embodiments, appropriate mounting units can be obtained separately from a fishing assembly or from a wireless sonar. The system described herein (e.g., a fishing assembly and a compatible receiver module) also can be packaged as an article of manufacture.

OTHER EMBODIMENTS

It is to be understood that while the invention has been described in conjunction with the detailed description thereof, the foregoing description is intended to illustrate and not limit the scope of the invention, which is defined by the scope of the appended claims. Other aspects, advantages, and modifications are within the scope of the following claims.