Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Mike Jenkins adds art to ice fishing

February 14, 2020 | Business

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

Michael Jenkins of Berthoud wanted a way to keep his ice fishing rods from falling into the water, so he added a duck with wings spread at one end.

“Traditional poles would fall through the hole and you would lose them, so I put wings on them,” said Jenkins, an ice angler for about 10 years though he hasn’t fished in the past couple of years.

Jenkins got the idea for his rods after seeing the 1993 movie, “Grumpy Old Men,” and soon after started Lucky Ducks Ice Fishing Combos. He has his rods for sale at Kofe House and Bennett’s Tackle, both in Berthoud.

Jenkins’ rods differ from the movie’s Green Hornet that has a two-dimensional wooden duck at the end of the pole. His are three-dimensional with the pole coming out of the bird’s round-tipped bill and the reel located in the belly.

Originally, Jenkins made his first dozen poles by hand, but each one took about 90 hours of work. He wanted to speed up his process, so he started using a computer numerical control, CNC, router to do the cutting and two gigs he made to hold them in place, plus a digital computerized program for the patterns.

Jenkins starts with two small blocks of wood for the head and tail and two large blocks for the wings. He machine cuts the four pieces, glues them together and mill cuts the bottom and then the top, followed by sanding and finishing. He clearcoats the wooden ducks, which are made from walnut, and paints the ones he makes out of resin. He also makes the reels, which he inserts into a cutout circle with a hole he drills in the bottom of the bird.

“They’re handmade, unique,” Jenkins said. “The wood ones are real pretty grain-wise. You get a real nice grain. They’re attractive as an art form.”

Over the years, Jenkins estimates he has made 75 ice fishing combos out of wood and resin. Some of them are a brown color and some are mallards with the male duck’s colorful heads and wings.

To fish, anglers cut a small hole in the ice, and once the combos are placed in the water, the ducks provide a good grip, Jenkins said.

“If a big fish pulls on it, it gets stuck on the wings,” Jenkins said, explaining that the reel will let out the line to prevent breaking the rod and the fish then can be reeled in.

Jenkins likes ice fishing on Boyd Lake in Loveland and Lake John in Walden, he said. Now retired, he worked for about 50 years as a carpenter and cabinet maker for himself and various cabinet shops. He also owned a 7,000-square-foot church in Louisville that he remodeled and sold. He now owns one of the buildings on Mountain Avenue that houses his and two other apartments and two businesses, including the Kofe House. He’s sold a few of his rods but doesn’t actively advertise, he said.

“A lot of them end up above some corporate desk instead of on the ice,” Jenkins said. “People like them and say they are well done and an interesting concept.”

Tiffany Heywood, co-owner of Kofe House, says she has gotten a great response from her customers who see the single rod that is on display on the merchandising shelf in back.

“Everybody says that they are so beautiful,” Heywood said. “We love supporting local art and are very happy to display them. … There’s lots of creative people in this town, and I love looking at the things they create.”

Jenkins can be seen walking with Zoie, a 24-year-old salmon-crested cockatoo he’s had for 14 years. The bird, which has a life expectancy of 90 years, knows a few words and phrases, such as “Hi,” “I love you,” Bye-bye,” “Zozo pretty,” and “Happy bird.”

“I do short walks and stop at the post office and drugstore,” Jenkins said about bringing Zoie out with him. “She’s only 24, so she’s still young.”

Jenkins can be reached at 970-532-3084.

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