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Friends create ice-fishing machine to win spot on cable show

Posted: Wednesday, March 07, 2001

MOUNT VERNON, Maine (AP) -- A contraption created by several friends is making ice fishing a spectator sport in Maine.

While family members and friends generally do not turn up at frozen lakes to cheer on the efforts of their ice-fishing loved ones, the Fish-O-Matic has drawn people to Minnehonk Lake from far away.

Jim Landry, Judd Derbyshire and Dave Bryant created the machine in an effort to appear on the Learning Channel's ''Junkyard Wars.''

The three may make the perfect team for the cable show. Landry is a metal artist, Derbyshire is an antiques dealer and Bryant is a carpenter.

The Fish-O-Matic consists of three parts: the fisher, the launcher and the catcher.

The fisher, powered by a car battery, uses a windshield wiper motor to pull the line. Its components include two ironing boards and a small, pink bicycle.

The launcher throws the fish from a wok attached to a spring-loaded metal chair.

The catcher, whose parts include a stove pipe, a baby carriage and parts of a gas grill, funnels the fish to a mailbox.

Once it hooks a fish, the Fish-O-Matic pulls it from the water, removes the hook and tosses it into the air. The fish then hits a chute and slides into a mailbox.

A siren sounds when a fish is caught and a flag pops up when the fish is delivered into the mailbox.

The friends haven't heard from the show yet. They may be facing stiff competition from other inventors, including applicants who have touted skills in rocket building and other sciences.

But the Fish-O-Matic team isn't too worried.

''I'd like to show them that three little dubbers from Maine can do just as good,'' Landry said.

''Even my old lady likes it, which is hard to believe,'' Bryant said.

Because there has been so much interest in the Fish-O-Matic, the men have had to use a toy fish and frozen cusk to demonstrate their invention. But nothing, they say, beats a live fish, which has the right amount of sliminess to glide through the machine properly.

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