Sat. Feb 24th, 2024
billy bobbers

Thanks to Brad Steinberg, our Natural Heritage Education Coordinator, for today’s post, which includes instructions on how to make your own fishing bobber.

I never met either of my grandparents, they both died of heart disease before I met them. However, I was fortunate to have excellent surrogates: family friends whose wisdom and support filled the space normally reserved for a grandparent. Bill Bishop was one of them.

Bill possessed the wisdom and wit that seem unique to Newfoundlanders, and he often toasted during a meal with a maritime saying that was mysterious in his slang and almost impossible for an eight-year-old to decipher.

Bill and my family shared a deep love for Algonquin Provincial Park, especially the speckled trout that inhabit the murky depths of those cold Canadian Shield lakes. And every spring, when the ice on the lake freckled and broke, I caught those speckled trout using homemade bobbers made from old wine corks.

They would be painted gold, orange or silver; bright enough to catch your attention when a hungry trout dragged them beneath the surface of the water. Nowadays we would call it recycling, but for Billy it was simply a pragmatic way of fishing.

Creative parenting

It had been about 30 years since I thought about those bobbers, my own tackle box full of the generic plastic bobbers you buy in bulk. But on a dreary day last winter, my kids were driving me crazy, so I was open to a creative solution.

See also  The white elk forest

Two kids at a table doing bobbers

While rummaging through the kitchen cupboard looking for something to trick the kids into being nice to each other, I found a bag of corks. I was pretty sure my wife was saving those corks for some kind of Pinterest craft, but since she hadn’t left me clear instructions in triplicate, they were fair game.

That’s when I remembered Billy’s bobbers.

I gathered the following:

  • an electric drill
  • 5 wooden skewers
  • 10 corks
  • Kid-friendly paint and brushes.
  • heavy scissors
  • my semi-wild children

Tools necessary for crafts.

This was a high-tech operation. We made the bobbers following these four steps:

  • Poke holes through the corks, lengthwise.
  • Cut the skewers to the desired length.
  • Put them in the holes.
  • Let the kids paint the bobbers.
  • Three bobbers in a row

    Eye-catching, fun and functional.

    Little girl holding a caught fish with a pink corkThe end result was a replica of Billy’s bobbers, in a variety of bright and fun colors. A few months later, in Algonquin Provincial Park, attached to the rope with a hair elastic, one of those corks floated in the water.

    A moment later, it flashed underwater and was quickly hauled up by my daughter, who was elated to be able to catch a smallmouth bass using her own bobber.

    I think that would have made Bill smile.

    Pro Tip: These bobbers can also be used as Christmas tree ornaments, floating keychains, and fashion earrings.