Today we won’t be dealing so much with the new products that will be available this year for ice fishing, but I will offer some suggestions on things that need to be done soon to get ready for a season that is rapidly approaching.
One of the first things that a smart ice angler will do is pull out his portable fishing shack and make sure it is in good condition. If a zipper is tearing loose, or perhaps there was a tear in the material from last season, now would be a good time to take it into the canvass shop to get it fixed. Wait too long and you might miss some of the early fishing without your portable house. Canvass repair shops get busy too with procrastinating anglers so it is always best to do your shelter inspections early and get the repairs done long before you need the structure.
One of the things I do with my gas powered auger is run it from time to time. I actually have a maintenance schedule I keep where I try to run small engines I own that don’t see a lot of year around use. My auger falls into this category, as does my chain saw, weed whacker, etc. When these engines sit for long periods of time it can be bad news…especially with today’s gasoline. I always run fresh fuel whenever possible and when I buy that fuel I put a stabilizer in it, like Stabil, Sea Foam, etc. But nothing beats running the freshest gas possible and doing it on a routine schedule. If you aren’t disciplined like this…then there is no time like the present to ensure that the motor starts on your augur.
Same goes for the blades. Auger blades can be tricky to sharpen yourself…so usually for a few bucks you can take it to a sharpening service or many sporting good stores will be a drop-off point for blade sharpening. The other option is to buy new blades for your unit, which is a good thing to do now while they are in stock because the hoards of people have not started thinking about drilling ice yet.
Another fine project during the evenings while you are sitting watching TV is to remove the old line from your reels and replace it with fresh line. Changing line annually is more important on your ice gear than it is on your summer gear. Generally you are using lighter test weight line that is not as durable to begin with. Don’t tempt fate by being lazy and leaving your old line on the reels you will be using for this ice season.
Of course another big thing to look at for the ice fisherman is simply the clothing you will be wearing. How do your winter boots look from last year? Can you get another year out of them…or perhaps you need some new liners? It’s amazing how fast the weather can turn here in Minnesota and it pays to be prepared for cold-weather living.
So what do you use for a heater when out ice fishing? There are lots of choices, but some of them need attention from time to time, too. I use one of the Mr. Heater type “sunflower” heaters…but I had one that was not working consistently last year. It would work for 15 minutes…and then shut off…and so on. Eventually I had to replace an $8 thermocouple unit and I was good to go. If you use kerosene heaters maybe you need to replace a wick…or if you use a Coleman-style lantern for lighting maybe you need a new wick for that unit. When you stop to think about all the equipment you use for ice fishing there is plenty of attention you can give to some of those items right now.
Don’t wait until the ice is thick enough for fishing to begin thinking about your equipment…put a little time into some of those items now and you’ll be ahead of the ballgame. Then in early December when the big St. Paul Ice Fishing Show rolls around you can focus on what is important…buying all that new equipment you didn’t even know you needed.
© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.