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Author Topic: JawJackers in PA vs PFBC  (Read 426 times)

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Offline fishin_musician

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JawJackers in PA vs PFBC
« on: February 10, 2021, 08:57:31 PM »
Matt Dugan the inventor of the JawJacker was on the phone this after noon and asked for some assistance rallying the members to his defense on this is it legal or is it illegal issue. I told him that a bunch of you guys were fired up about it and are interested in getting this resolved in your favor. Here is his email to me first than his lengthy letter to the PFBC He is articulate and makes a great case for his product. If there are any public meetings or forums for you guys to express your desires I will try to get them listed for you.

I attached the letter to this e-mail Dave. Thanks for your help. I also am also listing a link to a Law Enforcement Committee Meeting that was held on January 20th of this year where they discussed using the JawJacker in Pennsylvania.  If you could put that up on your site as well so people can listen to the meeting that would be great also. They start talking about the JawJacker at about the 22 minure mark. Here is the link:

Like I said on the phone, the first officer I talked to about the JawJacker on the phone over a year ago got pretty defensive with me pretty quick but he did tell me why they considered the JawJacker illegal in Pennsylvania and I talked about that in my letter. I did talk with another officer about 2 weeks ago and he sounded like they were adressing the issue of the JawJacker currently right now to maybe make the JawJacker legal and list the JawJacker in their regulations as being a legal device but it was still up in the air right now.  I talked with commissioner William Gibney on the phone 3 or 4 days ago and he did say they were reviewing the JawJacker to make an official decision on it so people aren't confused as to weather they can or can't use it since the regulations aren't clear on it. So while they are reviewing it now, it would be a good time for Pennsylvania angler to know about it so they can make their voices and their opinions known. The letter I attached to this e-mail was also sent to commissioner William Gibney and he said he would get it out to the other commissioners so they had the information and that he was going to enter it into the official record as well.

Thanks again for your help!

Matt Dungan
JawJacker LLC.

 Hello, my name is Matt Dungan and I had a gentleman e-mail me about a year ago telling me that some of the conservation officers in Pennsylvania are now saying that using the JawJacker ice fishing device in Pennsylvania is illegal.  He probably e-mailed me since I invented the JawJacker and was asking me if I knew anything about this. I hadn't heard this before and I know that the JawJacker has been used in Pennsylvania since it came out which was about 10 years ago.  I even looked up the regulations posted on-line and I couldn't find any regulation making the JawJacker illegal so I told the gentleman I didn't think the JawJacker would be illegal in Pennsylvania.  He e-mailed me back and showed me a link to a discussion on Ice Shanty, which is an ice fishing chat forum, where someone posted a response they got back from a conservation officer on the subject which stated that the JawJacker was illegal and the officer stated his reasoning why.  I called up this officer and talked to him over the phone to get more information and he said that there were a couple of Pennsylvania statues that weren't in the publicly published summary of regulations, but were  back somewhere in the archives, that made the JawJacker and similar hook setting devices illegal. 
The first statute the officer said made the JawJacker illegal was staute 63.5 which basically states  that in order to use a device for fishing it has to be approved by the state of Pennsylvania and the JawJacker hadn't been approved.  Here is the statute:
§ 63.5. Methods of fishing. It is unlawful to use a method for taking fish from the waters of this Commonwealth, including boundary lakes and rivers, unless the use of the method is specifically authorized by law or this part.

In the officers response that was posted on Ice Shanty he states that all of the illegal devices aren't listed in the regulations but that a device has to be approved for use in order to use it.  I can see why this statute was written.  It's basically a broad statute  against people coming up with some device that would be a detriment and harmful to a fishery and using it because there wasn't a specific regulation against it.   Something like using dynamite, electroshocking, or gill netting,  to catch fish.  But I would like to point out that the JawJacker is considered a type of tip up and tip ups are listed as a legal device to use in the state of Pennsylvania.  Usually a tip up is defined as any device that signals that a fish has taken the bait  with some sort of flag or signaling device.  With the JawJacker, the rod pops up which signals to the fisherman that a fish has taken their bait.  I have seen fisherman put a flag on the end of their rod tip so they can see it pop up better but usually just the rod popping up is enough of a signal.  The JawJacker also makes a snapping noise when it trips that further notifies the angler that a fish has taken the bait.  I know of several states that have  a definition of what they consider a tip up to be and the JawJacker fits those definitions and is legal in those states.  I tried to look through the regulations of Pennsylvania to see if I could find if you defined what you consider a tip up but I couldn't find anything.  Maybe it's back in the archives somewhere.  If someone could find the definition of a tip up in Pennsylvania and the JawJacker fit the definition then it should make it legal. 
I would like to show you the JawJacker and what it does so you know exactly what it is.  Here is a link to a video that you can copy and paste in your browser that shows how to set up the JawJacker and how it works:
Here is a link to another video that shows fish getting caught with the JawJacker:
There are lots of different kinds of tip up devices out there that signal when a fish takes the bait. These devices could be placed into general  "tip up" categories.  There are old fashioned tip ups that would be considered the first tip ups and don't have a spool of line and are basically like a teeter totter.  When a fish pulls on the line that is attached to one end of the teeter totter the other end with a flag on it pops up.  There are modern tip ups which contain a spool of line and when a fish bites the bait and pulls on the line a flag pops up.  There are devices called tip downs that tip downward to signal when a fish takes the bait.  There are actual hook setting tip ups that are basically  modern tip ups where the spool of line jerks up to set the hook when a fish bites.  There are types of tip ups which include the JawJacker that use a bent rod to set the hook when a fish takes the bait.  There are automatic jigging devices and even Jigging JawJackers that jig the bait and set the hook.  There are wind tip ups that use the wind to move the bait up and down in the ice hole and then throw a flag up when the fish takes the bait.  There are tip ups that use a rod and reel  but the rod doesn't set the hook.  A flag simply pops up to alert the fisherman when a fish bites and then the fish can free spool line off of the rod and reel.  So there are lots of "tip up" devices that are currently being used in Pennsylvania right now that aren't specifically named in the Pennsylvanias regulations as being legal.  In order to make them legal according to statute 63.5  you would have to mention them all in the regulations.  You would have to specifically mention the windlass tip up, the tip down, the mr jigger, the ht ice rigger, the sammer, the automatic fisherman, the guillatine, the  JawJacker, the Jigging JawJacker,  the hook set tip up, the I fish pro, the Heritage tip up, the insulated tip up, the firehouse lighted tip up, etc., etc., etc.  It would be hard to cover and mention all of the devices out there and also to make a determination as to the legality of each device individually as a new device comes on the market and is available for sale.  But Pennsylvania hasn't made a decision on each individual type of tip up. Instead it seems to have let the broad category of "tip up" cover all of these devices so it doesn't have to name them all individually.  And if you consider all of these different types of tip ups as being under the broad blanket of "tip ups," which are defined as being legal then this would satisfy regulation 63.5 and this seem to be what Pennsylvania has done.
So why has the JawJacker been singled out to not fall under the broad umbrella of "tip up" in Pennsylvania?   When I talked with the officer on the phone he said that there were a couple statutes that when combined and interpreted together would make the JawJacker illegal and that is what he was mainly basing his decision on when he was telling people they weren't allowed to use the JawJacker in Pennsylvania.  These statutes are:
§ 63.6. Authorized devices for game fish, baitfish and fishbait. (a) It is unlawful to fish for game fish with more than three lines of any description, whether fished by rod or by hand, at one time except while ice fishing in accordance with § 63.10 (relating to ice fishing). There is not a restriction on the number of hooks used for fishing for game fish, except when fishing in the Pymatuning Reservoir where no more than three hooks shall be attached to each line used in fishing. Rods, lines and hooks shall be under the immediate control of the person using them. A fishing device shall be deemed to be under the immediate control of the person using it if, when the terminal device (hook, bait or lure) is taken by a fish, the person using the device has direct control over it and it is not connected at that point to a casting or depth placement aid such as a casting boat or downrigger. Casting or depth placement aids such as downriggers or small remote controlled boats are not prohibited by this chapter.

§ 63.10. Ice fishing. (a) Ice fishing is fishing through holes in the ice. (b) It is unlawful while ice fishing to use more than five fishing devices, which may consist of rods, hand lines, tip ups or any combination thereof. Each device shall contain a single fishing line. There is not a restriction on the number of hooks that may be used for ice fishing, except when fishing in the Pymatuning Reservoir where no more than three hooks shall be attached to each line used in fishing. (c) Rods, lines and tip-ups used in ice fishing shall be under the immediate control of the person using the same. (d) It is unlawful to fish through holes in the ice that measure more than 10 inches between the farthest points as measured in any direction.
When I talked to the officer over the phone he explained to me how he was interpreting stautes 63:6 and 63:10 together to come up with a meaning that made the JawJacker illegal.   He said that in statute 63:6 it states that a fisherman has to have "immediate control" as soon as a fish takes the bait and not the fishing device.  So as soon as a fish bites,  a fishing device isn't allowed to do anything else since the fisherman has to be in control.  It can't move or do anything and if it did then the device would still be in control and not the fisherman.  And since the rod pops up in the JawJacker after the fish bites then that means that the JawJacker is in control  and not the fisherman which is illegal.  So that was the officers interpretation.  It was an assumption.  He wasn't looking at how "immediate control" in statute 63:6 was actually defined and then applying that definition to statute 63:10.   He just applied what he thought the general definition of "immediate control" meant, or should mean, or what he wanted it to mean, to ice fishing devices to come up with his own interpretation. 
"Immediate control" as defined in statute 63:6 doesn't say that the fishing device can't move after the fish takes the bait.  It just says that fishing devices like casting boats and downriggers can't be connected to the bait as soon as a fish bites.  So the casting boat or downrigger has to disconnect from the lure by letting go of the line as soon as a fish bites, then at that point the fisherman  has "immediate control."  Then the fisherman can grab the fishing device and fight the fish without anything attached to the line in between the fisherman and the fish.   Disconnection from the casting boat or downrigger gives the fisherman "direct control" and therefore  "immediate control" as it says in statute 63:6.   It doesn't say that a fishing device can't move any more in order for the fisherman  to have "immediate control."
If you say that a fishing device isin't allowed to move after a fish bites then you have to apply that to all ice fishing devices and not just the JawJacker and this would make a standard tip up illegal.  The flag on a standard tip up pops up after a fish takes the bait and therefore the tip up moves after the fish bites as well.  The rod in the JawJacker and the flag on the tip up both pop up at the same time.  So they should both be illegal according to  the officers interpretation.  So how can this interpretation be correct?

The definition of "immediate control" as defined in statute 63:6 for casting boats and downrigger was not meant to be interchanged  with  the  meaning of "immediate control" as it was listed for ice fishing devices like rods, lines, or tip ups.  If you substitute ice fishing devices like rods, lines, and tip ups that are listed in statute 63:10 with "casting boats and downriggers" that are listed in statute 63:6 like the officer is trying to do, then as soon as a fish takes the bait; the rod, line, or tip up would have to become disconnected from the hook, bait, or lure.  This is possible with casting boats and downriggers but not rods, lines, or tip ups.  Casting boats and downriggers can disconnect from the fishing bait as soon as a fish bites because the line pulls out of the clip on a downrigger or casting boat completely freeing it from the  bait.  This is not possible with ice fishing devices like rods, lines, or tip ups since the bait that is attached to the line is securely connected to the fishing device.  It has to be so that a fish the fisherman can catch the fish.  In order for rods, lines, or tip ups, to completely disconnect from the bait the fisherman would have to cut the line as soon as a fish bit in order for the hook, bait, or lure to not be connected any more to the fishing device.  This is impractical and counter productive to ice fishing.  It just wouldn't work. 
Statute 63:6 states that downriggers are legal devices to fish with.  With a downrigger the boat that is trolling the bait through the water is pulling on the bait which helps to set the hook in a fishes mouth when it bites.  Also when using a downrigger system the rod in the rod holder is reeled up tight  so there is no slack line in the system when a fish hits.  By reeling the slack line out of the downrigger system  and getting the line tight the angler puts a bend in the rod.  The rod becomes bent and loaded like the rod in a JawJacker.  So when a fish takes the bait, the downrigger clip releases, which release the bent rod, which pulls back on the lure which helps set the hook.  So when a fish bites a bait used with the downrigger system, there is force and movement that pulls back on the hook, bait, or lure, like there is with the JawJacker system.  So interpreting statutes 63:6 and 63:10 together to say that a fishing device isn't allowed to move or pull back on the line after a fish takes the bait can't be right.  If this interpretation was right then a legal downrigger system would be illegal.
Something else I would like to point out is that it's the rod in the rod holder that moves and pulls back on the line and not the downrigger itself.  With the JawJacker its the rod in the rod holder that moves and pulls back on the line also and not the JawJacker itself.  So with both devices it's the rod making the movement that pulls on the line.  According to the regulatons an ice rod is an acceptable device to use when ice fishing. There are no limitations on how it can or can't be used and whether it can be used bent over or has to stay straight until a fish hits.
Here are some you tube videos I found for you to watch of people demonstrating how to use the perfectly legal downrigger system.  They show and talk about using the downrigger system to set the hook:     Notice in this video how the person explaining how to set up the downrigger specifically says to  load the rod and put a bend in it.  This is at about the 1:30 minute mark.  He says that "you want to put a significant bend in the rod so that when a fish takes the line out of the downrigger release you want that rod to recoil back and take up as much of the slack as possible to ensure that that fish stays on the line."  So even with the downrigger that is a legal device as stated in  statute 63:6, the rod recoils back and  moves after the fish has taken the hook, bait, or lure.  So the rod moves after the downrigger is tripped, just like the JawJacker.  And this is ok, because the statute doesn't say that there can't be any movement after the fish takes the hook, bait, or lure. It just states that the hook, bait, or lure has to disconnect from the downrigger which it does.  Again, disconnection is the key.   In this video at about the 11:30 minute mark the guy explains that you want to "tension the line" when using downriggers "and this does 2 things,  when a fish strikes and gets hooked, it makes the rod snap up which is going to  1.  let you know that there is a fish on the line, and number 2. ,which is the more important thing,  it's going to actually set the hook in the fish."  So the guy explains that he downrigger system 1. signals that there is a fish on the line, just like the JawJacker, and it sets the hook in the fish, just like the JawJacker.  In this regard the JawJacker  functions in the same way as a downrigger that is already defined as legal in statute 63:6, so the JawJacker should be legal also.  In this video at the 2:55 minute mark the narrator explaining how to use the downrigger system states "the rod action and boat speed actually set the hook."  In this video they are fishing for large king salmon and show lots of  huge fishing striking the bait with the downrigger.  You will notice that as soon as these fish take the bait,  and trip the downrigger they are hooked and on.  A combination of the boat moving forward and the tension on the rod set the hook. The angler just has to grab the rod and fight the fish at this point since the hook is already set.  You will see this at the  1:00 minute, 2:20 minute, 2:37 minute mark,  3:25 minute mark,  and the 3:40 minute mark.   The angler doesn't even strike back on the rod to set the hook since the fish is already hooked by the downrigger system and is on.  You will notice some of the anglers do pull back on the rod when they grab it but there is already a large bend in the rod showing that the fish is already hooked and on.  A lot of guys pull back on the rod and then reel forward to gain line when fighting a big fish and that is what these guys are doing.  At about the 50 second mark one of the rods does snap back a bit to show you that the rod does jerk back when a fish bites since it is loaded.  Another rod snaps back at about the 58 second mark.  But these fish were so big and powerful, that with the majority of the strikes the fish just take the bait and go and are on.  This video talks about choosing a downrigger clip to use with your downrigger system.  At about the 27 second mark the guys starts talking about choosing a downrigger clip so that it sets the hook when a fish bites when fishing for salmon in the ocean or for kokanee salmon which are landlocked.
So now that we have gone over the regulations and seen some videos that I think obviously disprove the interpretation the officer told me that makes the JawJacker illegal, I think it would be important to look at the merits of the JawJacker itself.  So I would like to discuss some of the Pros and Cons of using the JawJacker.
Fishing methods do progress over time and the JawJacker is part of that progression.  Each progression is designed to help the fisherman gain an advantage over the fish so that the fisherman can catch more fish,  bigger fish,  and do this easier and in a shorter amount of time for the enjoyment of the fisherman.  But conservation shouldn't be sacrificed  just for the pleasure of the fisherman and I think that is what Fish and Wildlife agencies are trying to assure.  The JawJacker does help a fisherman enjoy their fishing trip by helping them catch fish and it does that in an ethical manner that helps to conserve fisheries more so than standard tip ups which are already considered legal in Pennsylvania and have been used for years.
The way the JawJacker works is when a fish bites the bait it pulls on the fishing line and  trips the JawJackers trigger mechanism.   This in turn releases a bent fishing rod that is in the rod holder on the JawJacker that snaps up and tugs on the line which sets the hook in the fishes mouth.   So the theory behind using the JawJacker  is that as soon as a fish bites the bait, there is an attempt to set the hook so a fish is less likely to spit the bait out and get away.  This results in more hook ups, more fish caught, and less fish that are gut or gill hooked.
One of the positive attributes of the JawJacker is  that it doesn't give the fish time to swallow the bait like a baited rod and reel sitting in a rod holder does or like a standard tip up.  With the JawJacker, fish are almost always hooked in the mouth  which allows them to be easily unhooked and released with the least amount of harm.  This gives them the best chance of survival after they are released.  The JawJacker increases  fish  survivability and decreases fish mortality rates after being caught and released  which is beneficial to a fishery and promotes a healthier fishery. 
I have heard that if you do have a gut hooked fish they recommend that you cut the line and leave the hook in the fishes stomach and over time the stomach acid will eat the hook away.   I don't think I have ever seen anyone do that out on the ice.  I am sure that there are some but most fisherman don't want to lose any gear and go ahead and rip the hook out of the fishes stomach.   Then they usually keep the fish if it is a nice one since they know it is probably going to die.  But if it's small, which a lot of the time it is, they go ahead and release the fish and hope for the best.
I know in Pennsylvania you can use live minnows for bait and a lot of fisherman use them.  A live minnow is about the best bait on the planet anywhere you go.   I think fish are more likely to quickly swallow a live minnow than any other bait and your conservation officers that fish can attest to that.  It's just common knowledge.  I use live minnows in Eastern Montana on Fort Peck Reservior for pike and walleye and I use them on Trenton reservior in North Dakota for crappie.  I have used them with the JawJacker and also on standard tip ups.  With standard tip ups a minnow is the bait of choice since a fish will hit the bait and hold onto it and usually swallow it.  This allows ice fisherman to catch more fish on tip ups, which is fine if you want to keep a lot of fish or keep most of what you catch, but you do end up with more  gut hooked fish.  Then if you have to release a fish because it's legally  to small, or to big, or doesn't fall within the slot limit, they have a lot less chance at surviving.  When using live minnows with the JawJacker,  the fish are usually always hooked in the mouth and not in the gills or guts since the JawJacker sets the hook right away.  It doesn't give the fish time to swallow the minnow.
 In my experience using the JawJacker over the last 10 years I have put a lot of time on the ice and caught thousands of fish with it.  I have seen that maybe 4 or 5  fish out of 100 end up gut or gill hooked even when using live minnows.  In my experience fishing around other people that don't use JawJackers and seeing blood on the ice all around their ice holes, I would say that without the JawJacker, 2 or 3 fish out of 10 end up gut or gill hooked on set lines, and when using live minnows with standard tip ups that number jumps up considerably.  So you are roughly looking at 4 or 5 percent of fish that are caught on the JawJacker end up being gut or gill hooked and roughly 20 to 30 percent of fish that are caught using standard tip ups and ice rods sitting in rod holders ending up gut or gill hooked.  That's a dramatic difference.  That is why I regard the JawJacker as a conservation too.
I recently got back from a trip to Fort Peck Reservior in Eastern Montana.  I caught 2 lake trout using live minnows with the JawJacker.  The first one  was hooked and on the JawJacker for probably 4 or 5 minutes before I saw that the JawJacker had gone off and the fish was on since it was set up about 100 yards away from where we were which is legal to do in eastern Montana.   If I had caught this fish on a standard tip up instead of the JawJacker,  chances are about 99% that this fish  would have been gut hooked since I didn't notice right away that it was on the line. The second one I saw immediately as soon as the JawJacker went off.  Both fish were hooked right in the top of the mouth.  I filmed both of these fish being caught and showed in the video how the JawJacker hooked both fish in the top of the mouth.  I did end up keeping both of these fish since I wanted to try some lake trout since I had never eaten any before.   But as you will see in the video, both of these fish were hooked in a manner that would have allowed them to easily survive if released.  Here is the link to that video on You Tube.  You can copy and paste it in your browser:
I also caught some good pike on that trip and made a video of that.  All of the pike that were shown getting hooked right in front of the camera were caught using the Jigging JawJacker.  The Jigging JawJacker is a standard JawJacker  with the legs folded up that is attached to a Jigging Base.  I came out with the Jigging Base a little over 2 years  ago and there are a couple other devices like it on the market.  When you use the Jigging Base with the standard JawJacker it turns the JawJacker into a Jigging JawJacker.   They are separate devices that fit and work together.   The Jigging JawJacker  adds  some movement to the bait to help attract fish kind of like how a boat trolls a lure attached to a downrigger through the water to give it some action and attract fish.   In the video we were using  live minnows hooked though the nose on a jig head.  You can see in the you tube video, that when all of the pike come up out of the hole,  the jig head or hook is clearly visible in the fishes mouth which shows that none of the fish were gill or gut hooked.  All 3 of the fish that were shown getting hooked by the Jigging JawJacker were on for a while before I got there to reel the fish in.  I edited out a lot of the time between when the fish was hooked and when I got there since no one wants to wait  2 or 3 minutes without any action going on. If those fish were caught on tip ups they would all be gut hooked but instead they were all hooked in the mouth.  Here is the link to that you tube video:
When using the JawJacker,  I have seen, and other anglers have seen, that they do catch more fish which makes for a happier fisherman.  After all, that's the whole point.   That's why we are out there in the freezing cold, it's to catch fish.  Even though I feel that ice fisherman do catch more fish with the JawJacker, I know that less fish die when released when anglers are using JawJackers verses rods and reels sitting in rod holders or on standard tip ups.  So it's a win win situation for both the angler and the fishery.  Here are more links to my videos that show some underwater fish action and how fish are usually always hooked in the mouth on the JawJacker.

I do get some gill or gut hooked fish with the JawJacker, it's not perfect, and I have seen how this can happen on underwater video. When I video underwater I point my underwater camera at the bait and start recording and record continuously for hours.  Then when I capture footage of a fish getting hooked on the JawJacker I will use that footage in my videos and then delete the rest.  But there is a lot of footage that I have to sort through to find the short clips of fish getting hooked and I look at all of it.  I see a lot of fish behavior.  I see  fish that just swim by and don't even look at the bait, which is anywhere from 50 to 100  percent depending on the day.  I see fish take a quick look at the bait and swim away.  I see fish look at the bait and swim by and then turn around to have another look and then swim away.  I see fish that bite the bait and spit it out and don't set off the JawJacker which I don't like to see but I do see it quite often.  I see fish grab the bait and come up with it so that they don't tug on the line and then start mouthing the bait and steal it.  I see fish that bite the bait and then get hooked.  I think that fish that get gill or gut hooked with the JawJacker are the ones that come up with the bait and avoid detection.  They grab the bait and swim up a little bit so they aren't tugging on the fishing line which gives them more time to mouth the bait and swallow it.  Note that these fish would still end up gut hooked with a rod and reel sitting in a rod holder or with a standard tip up since they wouldn't trip the flag on a tip up or tug on the end of the rod and reel to alert the fisherman right away.
In the first pike video that I shared the link to, it shows the Jigging JawJacker.  The Jigging JawJacker is designed to give some motion to the bait and also to catch fish that come up with the bait and don't tug on the line.  It's designed to catch these bait stealers but this design also helps prevents fish that don't pull on the line and come up with the bait from being gut hooked.  The Jigging base has a wheel in the back of it that turns and moves the JawJacker up and down.  The jigging base comes with 3 wheels which provide 3 different jigging actions.  There is a small, medium, and large jigging action.  The medium and large jigging actions are designed to hook fish that come up with the bait.  They are designed to pause when the bait is at its lowest position.  So when a fish is just mouthing the bait and not tugging on the line in this low position, and the Jigging JawJacker goes to jig the bait upward, the line will come tight and trip the JawJacker which will make an attempt to hook the fish.  I have a video on you tube where I demonstrate how to use the Jigging JawJacker that I made back in 2017 and I talk about this feature.  It is at about the 7 minute 50 second mark in the video. Here is the link to that video on You Tube:

Another positive attribute of the Jawjacker is that it helps kids and people with disabilities catch fish.  I have a friend at work that took his kids ice fishing when they were little before the JawJacker existed.   They got cold easy and bored sitting there jigging or trying to watch fishing rods in rod holders,  especially when the fishing was slow.  My friend Scott Browning  said that after a couple times his kids wouldn't go anymore.  Six or seven  years after that I took Scott and his 3 boys ice fishing on Hebgen Lake in Montana.  Scott had to really talk his kids into going and convince them that they were going to catch fish.  We went out about mid morning and set up JawJackers.  About 10 or 15 minutes after we got set up the first JawJacker went off and we caught our first fish.  After that his boys were excited and we ended up catching 10 or 15 nice rainbow trout that day all between 14  and 20 inches.  Now his teenage boys go ice fishing by themselves with the JawJacker.  They even make an annual family trip to Hebgen lake together to ice fish which is about 3 hours away from where they live because of the JawJacker.  And they buy fishing licenses and ice fishing gear in Idaho and out of state in Montana where they wouldn't have before.
I was fishing one time and there were lots of other people out there on the ice.  There was man and a woman  fishing close to me and they had a couple small kids.  One was 5 and the other one was 3.  They had them bundled up and they looked like the kid on that movie " The Christmas Story"  that the mom stuffed in that show suit before she sent him off to school. They weren't catching many fish so I let them use a couple of my JawJackers.  I saw one of  the JawJackers go off and I helped the 5 year old kid reel in about an 18 inch trout and the kid was happy as could be. Then a little while later I saw the JawJacker go off again and I helped the 3 year old kid reel in a 20 inch trout. The kid wasn't hardly old enough to talk but you could tell he was happy and excited after he saw that big fish up on the ice. 
The first couple years I sold the JawJacker I sold them out of my house.  I had a guy come over and he brought his dad with him that was probably in his late 60's or 70's.  His dad had suffered from a stroke 3 or 4 years prior.  His dad shuffled into my house weak on one side and he couldn't speak clearly  or even hardly talk at all because of the stroke.   The son told me that his dad was excited to get his hands on some JawJackers  hoping they would help him ice fish again.  The son said that because of the weakness caused by the stroke that his dad couldn't effectively ice fish any more and that they were hoping that the JawJacker would help him catch fish ice fishing again.  The son explained that his dad could still reel with his good hand and still hold a rod with his bad hand but that he didn't have enough strength to set the hook with the arm he held the rod with.  So that's where they were hoping the JawJacker would come in.  I never heard from them again but it was great to see the JawJacker give an older disabled man some confidence and hope again.
I had a guy e-mail me saying that he had an autistic neighbor kid.  He had taken the kid ice fishing before but ice fishing didn't really excite him.  The guy bought some JawJackers and learned how to use them and took the autistic neighbor kid ice fishing again.  The kid caught fish on the JawJacker during that trip and became almost obsessed with it.  Now the kid wants to go ice fishing with him all the time and knows all the ins and outs of the JawJacker.   The guy stated that now the autistic kid had a new excitement in his life that he enjoyed and looked forward to and was always excited to go ice fishing with him.
So in my experience I have personally seen the  JawJacker help  people with disabilities like the man who was adversely affected by a stroke and the kid with autism.  I have seen the JawJacker help kids that become bored easily catch fish on the ice and want to go ice fishing again.  Kids can run around and play in the snow and do whatever they want due to their short attention spans  and when the JawJacker pops up they run over and catch a fish and grin from ear to ear.  The JawJacker in this regard has had a very positive effect on the sport of ice fishing as a whole.  There is even an outdoor sports center in Michigan that is run by their conservation department that teaches youth seminars every year and demonstrates to kids how to use the JawJacker along with other devices like conventional tip ups that are useful in ice fishing.   I believe that the JawJacker helps the sport of ice fishing and helps ice fisherman have a better time..   
I found some customer reviews of the JawJacker on some of the stores websites that carry it.  I wanted to show you these so that you can hear the same thing I am saying coming from other people and not just me.
1.  Here is a  random customer review on dick Sporting Goods from someone in Vermont that I found today:
★★★★★5 out of 5 stars.
· a month ago 
Perfect for trout & salmon
I've owned two Jaw Jackers for three seasons now. We primarily fish for rainbows and browns which tend to trip a flag, run a few feet and drop. The Jacker hooks these short strikes about 90% of the time. The fish also don't get a chance to swallow the bait/minnow. Easier to remove hook and let fish go if u want to.

2.  Here is a review I found on Cabelas Canada website:
★★★★★5 out of 5 stars.
· 6 years ago 
Works Perfect
so far im 12/14 for northerns using the jaw jacker all of them hooked perfectly in the corner of the mouth. only robbed of bait twice. it even sets the hook hard enough that if your not watching and the fish is on for a while it stays hooked until you get there

3.  Here are a couple reviews I found on Sportsmans Warehouse site showing parents use them with Kids.
Dec 10, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5
JawJacker Hook Setting Tip Up
Bought 2 of these to use for the kids because they have no attention span to jig. When I was jigging my rod, fish would come by and take either my jig or the jawjacker rod. When I put my rod down and dead stick both rods we didn't catch any fish at all. Great idea, I love it.

Jeremy Inouye
Nov 8, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5
JawJacker Hook Setting Tip Up
I have 2 of them and will be purchasing more. There great for pike fish and there is no easier way to dead stick then these. Great for kids and easy to use.

4.  Here is a review I found on Scheels website.

Great addition
We have been using these for 4 years and love them. The best thing about them is the fish no longer swallow the hook because they are hooked in the top of the mouth. This allows you to release them relatively unharmed. Because we can fish 6 poles in Wyoming I have19 of these. They are great for when you take kids ice fishing. I like the design of these the best of those on the market. You won't regret buying one.
December 5, 2018
5.   Here is another review on the Scheels website of someone greatefull they haven't lost any rods down the hole since using the JawJacker with their dead stick rods.  Rods sitting in rod holder are frequently pulled down the ice hole by fish which junks up the lake.  And I would hate to be the fish that had to drag a rod and reel around for the rest of my life.

I have twelve and going to get some more . have not lost a pole since. good buy.
November 24, 2018

Another subject I wanted to discuss is that  I have heard some people say that the JawJacker gives an unfair advantage to the fisherman.  That is probably what people who were using cane poles started saying about people who first used the rod and reel  and what  people using the old black braided line said about people who first started using clear monafilament.  The sport of fishing is always progressing just like everything else and I would hate to see someones prejudice or bias outlaw something that is good for both the fishery and the fisherman.  I do believe that the JawJacker helps people catch more fish which is the point of it all.  Catching fish means having  fun and that is what people who fish are there for.  The more fun they have the more likely they are to invite their buddies along that have never iced fish before and share it with them.  The more fun kids have ice fishing when they are little the more likely they are to keep ice fishing when they are older and share it with their kids. That means the sport of ice fishing will continue and people will continue to buy fishing equipment that helps businesses and fishing licenses that help Fish and Game departments. 
But just because people are having more fun doesn't mean that they are keeping more fish than they should be or harming the fishery.   Daily limits per fish species are still in effect and apply to all fisherman regardless of the type of fishing equipment they are using.  The fact is that lots of fisherman catch way more fish than they are allowed to keep in a day.  They just simply release the fish they don't want or aren't allowed to keep.   Lots of fisherman solely practice catch and release and don't keep fish.  Others keep just a few nice sized fish to eat when they go out.  Others keep their limit as often as they can which is ok by the law and completely legal.  So if a fisherman does catche more fish with the JawJacker than he would with rods in rod holders or standard tip ups it's not like he is going to keep more fish than he should and harm the fishery.
Just because someone is using a JawJacker doesn't mean they are going to catch every fish in the lake.  I wish that was true but unfortunately its not.  If you watched that underwater perch video that I shared the link to or have been ice fishing and used an underwater camera or flasher device then you will see that there are a lot of fish that don't bite.  You see fish after fish after fish that you don't catch.  You see schools of fish and maybe 1 out of a school of 3 or 4 will bite or 2 or 3 out of a school of 20 that will bite or there are no fish that bite.  I was talking with a Fish and Game officer once while I was fishing Henry's lake here in Idaho.  Henry's lake is a trophy trout lake and gets fished hard.  The officer told me that their studies have shown that 90% of the fish in that lake will die of old age.  There are way more fish that don't get caught than do get caught.  And when you do hook a fish on the JawJacker they still can get off before you get there to reel them in which happens a lot. Some days you are hooking and catching about 80 or 90 percent of the bites you get  and other days it's maybe only 40 or 50 percent which is frustrating.   Fishing doesn't always mean catching with whatever gear you are using and the JawJacker is no exception.
I mentioned prejudice and bias three paragraphs up from this one.  I don't want to sound like a liberal but you do see people that don't like something, not based on its merits, but based on something else that they perceive that is unfounded that they just don't like.  The reason I mention this is because I have seen prejudice and bias first hand fishing here in Idaho on Henry's lake.  As I mentioned before, Henry's lake is a trophy trout lake that is closely managed by our Fish and Game department and lots of people fish it and lots of big fish are caught there.  I have personally seen  5 lb. brook trout caught there and  cuttbows up to 13 lbs that are 31 inches long.  For probably 30 years the lake would close to fishing the last day in October and open back up again on Memorial day weekend.  The lake usually freezes over in November so by closing down at the end of October and not opening back up until Memorial day when the ice was gone, ice fisherman could never fish the lake.  About 10 years ago the Fish and Game department decided to change the closure date on the lake to the last day in November.  This allowed ice fisherman to fish the lake and have safe ice for a couple weeks.  So the ice fisherman took advantage of the opportunity and went out and had a great time and caught a lot of nice fish and caught some big fish and word about it spread.  Before long I noticed that about every time I ice fished Henry's lake there would be a Fish and Game officer out there checking licenses and checking how many fish people were keeping and making sure people weren't parking where they weren't suppose to.  It was about every time I went which was unusual.   So one time I was ice  fishing Henry's lake and the Fish and Game officer came over and I started talking to him like usual.  He opened up a bit told me that the Fly fisherman and Fly fishing associations were complaining that the ice fisherman were slaughtering all the fish.  They didn't like the ice fisherman being there and wanted to run them off.  They were reporting that the ice fisherman were keeping about everything they caught and weren't observing catch limits and were taking all the big fish out of the lake  which wasn't true.  The fly fisherman were biased and prejudice against the ice fisherman and had misconceived notions.  That is why there was always a Fish and Game officer out there to keep an eye on things.  He said they were actually collecting data and doing studies to show that the ice fisherman weren't causing any harm.  That is when he told me that about 90 percent of all the fish in the lake died of old age and that the ice fishing pressure on the lake was really insignificant.  But because the Fly fishing associations donated money to the state fisheries department  that helped to stock the lake they had to check out their claims.  So that is why the fish and game officer was always out there.  Since then the Fish and Game department has extend the ice fishing season on Henry's lake another month and now the lake closes to fishing on January 1st.  I haven't seen another fish and game officer on Henry's lake during the ice fishing season since then.
So as far as detrimental features of the JawJacker, I don't see a whole lot there.  Maybe I am biased in favor of it so I can't come up with much.  Some people might say the JawJacker is less "traditional".   Maybe they think people are having to much fun with it which shouldn't be allowed.  Maybe people think that a fisherman should set the hook by pulling on the line themselves instead of having something they set up do it .  Maybe people think the JawJacker is to expensive since it costs more than a standard traditional tip up.  Maybe people think that the JawJacker makes fishing to easy and people should have to work harder and earn  the fish they catch.  I don't know, you tell me. 
I have been told by a Wyoming conservation officer that states commonly look at what is going on in other states around them when they are in the process of considering changes and allowances to their regulations.  I would like to mention that the JawJacker is considered a tip up by many states and Ohio is one of them.  Ohio defines a tip up as being a device that can raise a small flag or other signaling device when a fish is biting or is hooked. There was some controversy in Ohio 8 or 9 years ago when the
JawJacker first came out as to whether the JawJacker was considered a "rod" or a "tip up" in Ohio or if the JawJacker was even legal at all.   If the JawJacker was considered a "rod" then you could only use two at a time and if the JawJacker was considered a tip up then I believe you could use 6 at a time if I remember correctly.  It's been a long time.  I asked the state of Ohio for clarification on this issue and they responded back to me with the following response via e-mail and I have copied and pasted it below.
Subject: tip up legality in Ohio
Date: Wed, 2 Nov 2011 09:30:50 -0400

Matt, I have viewed your video and website.  Your jaw jacker device appears to work very well!  The definition of a tip up in Ohio is:
(AAAAA) “Tip-up” means a device consisting of a hook and line attached to a spring or other device which is capable of raising a small flag or other signaling device when a fish is biting or is hooked.  The jaw jacker device definitely fits the definition and would be legal in Ohio when used as a tip up.  If you have more questions, please give me a call.  Good luck!
Gino Barna, Law SupervisorLake Erie Law Enforcement Unit
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Division of Wildlife
305 East Shoreline Drive
Sandusky, Ohio  44870
419 625-8062
So since the rod pops up when a fish is biting or is hooked the JawJaker is considered a tip-up in Ohio.

When looking at the legality of the JawJacker and similar devices please consider all of the evidence and pieces to the puzzle.  Don't just look at 1 misinterpretation of your existing laws to condemn a device or type of device that didn't even exist at the time the laws were written.  Please consider the merits of the device it's self.
 Consider that fish caught on the JawJacker have a lot lower gill or gut hooked ratio than other already legal devices in Pennsylvania like rods and reels in rod holders or standard tip ups. Consider that when a fish is released after it is hooked in the mouth rather than in the gills or gut it has a lot higher survivability rate which greatly benefits the fishery.  Consider that the JawJacker greatly reduces fish mortality rates when using live minnows. Consider that the Jigging JawJacker is even better than the JawJacker at preventing gill and gut hooked fish.  Consider that the JawJacker helps young kids and people with disabilities catch fish and have fun when ice fishing as well as regular ice fisherman.  Consider that the funner ice fishing is the more ice fishermen there will be to buy ice fishing tackle and fishing licenses. Consider that the JawJacker system functions in the same way as a downrigger system which is already specified as being legal in Pennsylvania.   Consider that a rod and reel is already specified as legal to use in Pennsylvania and bent over or loaded rods have been used for years in downriggers and do move after a fish takes the bait.  Consider that no matter how many fish a fisherman catches or how he catches those fish he is still limited to the amount of fish he can keep according to the regulations.  Consider that fishing methods do progress over time and that new methods shouldn't be made illegal just because they are new and considered  "untraditional" when they are good for both the fisherman and the fishery.  Consider than the JawJacker isin't some magical device that catches every fish that swims by and gives the fisherman an unfair advantage but rather a way a fisherman can catch 2 or 3 fish instead of getting skunked or 7 or 8 fish instead of 3 or 4.  Consider that fish are smart and warry and frustrating to catch so the ice fisherman needs everything and anything that he can legally use  to catch them, especially on slow days.
Some of the key points I would like to point out again when looking at the legality of the JawJacker in Pennsylvania are:
1.  The JawJacker is already considered a type of tip up in almost every state including your neighbor Ohio since it signals when a fish takes the bait when the rod pops up.  If a definition of what Pennsylvania considers a tip up is listed somewhere and the JawJacker meets the criteria of that definition then the JawJacker should be legal in Pennsylvania.  If a specific definition doesn't exist then the JawJacker shouldn't be excluded as being a tip up since there are no disqualifying factors listed.  And if there are no including factors to define what a tip up is then how can you call anything a tip up in Pennsylvania.  You would have to go off of the general common knowledge that a tip up is a device that raises a small flag or other signaling device when a fish is biting or hooked which includes the JawJacker.
2.  When looking at statutes 63:10 and 63:6 together, remember that if you apply the definition of "immediate control" as it is defined in statute 63:6  for remote controlled boats and downriggers to the ice fishing devices of statute 63:10, then the hook, bait, or lure can't be connected to the fishing device as soon as a fish takes the bait.  This would mean that an ice fisherman would have to cut his line as soon as a fish took the bait in order to comply. This was not meant to happen so therefore the definition of "immediate control" as defined in statute 63:6 for remote controlled boats and downriggers was not mean to be interchangeable with "immediate control" in statute 63:10 so it shouldn't be applied to it.
3.  If you define "immediate control" in statute 63:6 as happening as soon as a fish takes the bait, and say that there can't be any other device connected to the line in between the fishing device and the bait, this would make sense and would work for all fishing devices whether the fisherman was using a tip up or a rod and reel in a downrigger system.  This is what I think the definition of "immediate control" as it is defined in statute 63:6 is meant to say.
4.  The officer I talked to on the phone told me that since the fisherman has to have "immediate control" as soon as a fish takes the bait then a fishing device isin't allowed to do anything else or move after a fish takes the bait which makes the JawJacker illegal since the rod moves after the fish takes the bait.  This is an assumption and misinterpretation.  If this was true then a standard tip up that is defined as legal would be illegal since the flag pops up after the fish takes the bait.  If this assumption was true then a downrigger system that is defined as legal in 63:6 would be illegal since the loaded rod and moving boat pull on the hook, bait, or lure after the fish bites which sets the hook.  So if the standard tip up and downrigger system are both legal and they both move after the fish takes the bait then the JawJacker should be legal too.
I hope I was able to clearly get my thought across to you.  I know this is a lot of material to read through and the statues  and interpretations of the statutes  are complicated.  Hopefully this letter has helped to make sense of it all and add clarity to the actual meaning of the statutes.  Hopefully I have shown that the JawJacker has been a positive thing for both the fisherman and the fisheries in Pennsylvania and I am sure that the fishermen of Pennsylvania will greatly appreciate it if you continue to allow them to use the JawJacker.

Matt Dungan
JawJacker LLC.


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JawJackers in PA vs PFBC
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