Vintage demons with pocket watch set at 4 o’clock, when bluegills usually decide to bite this time of year.

There are nearly 100 Demons in my basement.

Most haven’t seen the light of day in more than 30 years—about the same time I started writing this column for the Gazette.

Four still go with me every time I venture out on the dicey ice we’ve been fishing through for almost a month now. One was pulled out of the little ice jig box the other day and caught 10 bluegills on an afternoon when nothing else would work.

In retrospect, it was the time and not the lure that mattered that ‘balmy’ January afternoon. The first fish bit at 4 p.m. on a No. 10 pink/yellow chartreuse Demon, with a waxworm rigged sideways—wacky style.

I believe this fish would have hit one of the little tungsten jigs with a soft plastic tail I had been washing without a serious nibble for more than two hours before fish turned up with the Demon, had one of these “new” lures been on the line.

But the first bluegill slurped in that Demon, as did all the other fish that followed him up through the hole. When something works, it’s wise to stick with it. Especially about 4 p.m., when the bluegills have started to bite lately.

It has felt almost spring-like to the few fools who have ventured out on the hardwater recently. But to the fish, it is still mid-winter. Smaller presentations, lighter line and time of day can all be critical to success.

That said, it’s time to come clean about most of the Demons in the basement, many in pretty pastel colors. They were part of pseudo science centered around a device called the Color-C-Lector.

This device had a dial with a rainbow of colors on it and a probe on a cable that was lowered to where the fish were. When the probe was in position the dial indicated the best color to tempt fish. It even showed the pH of the water!

The Color-C-Lector was the bomb back in 1985. Angling luminaries like Jimmy Houston and Bill Dance raved about it. In-Fisherman magazine even championed the new technology.

I am fairly certain I touted the Color-C-Lector’s worth in this column too. The robin’s-egg blue color was smokin’ hot up on Lake Kegonsa that year. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it started catching more fish and bigger fish about 4 p.m.

If my article goaded you into buying a Color-C-Lector and a bunch of pastel Demons, I apologize.

But the Demon still catches fish and I won’t apologize for that. Custom jigs & Spins still offers this bait in 15 colors and five sizes. The gold lure and that one mentioned previously are still my faves—for personal reasons.

I started ice fishing seriously back in 1979 when I first came on the Beloit Fire Dept. My first lieutenant, Larry Wright, was a helluva ice fisherman. He used to humble me regularly with a lure called the Little Atom from a lure company that started up here in Wisconsin back in 1950.

They stopped making the bait in ’81. I had two of them and convinced Bill Klingbeil, who owned Custom Jigs & Spins at the time, to start making them.

I sent Klingbeil my two Little Atoms. By the following winter, he had tweaked and perfected the bait, renaming it the Demon.

Gravity causes the Demon to hang vertically when lowered down the hole. It catches more fish if you slide the knot around and lower it through the water column in a horizontal presentation.

Little tricks like that and a wristwatch will catch you more fish than the latest new thing. But those tiny tungsten jigs with plastic catch fish too—after 4 p.m.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.com

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