The ice fishing season is getting seriously close now. Most of us still have to put some deer in the freezer, but you cannot let time slip away to quick or you will find yourself in a rush, and maybe out of luck to hit the first safe ice of the season.
As a competitive ice angler, my season never completely stops, there is always something to do. Whether its speaking with potential sponsors, working with current sponsors, upgrading equipment or just cleaning up the garage form the hectic winter season, I always have something ice fishing related to do.
Now even if you’re not a tournament person, you still have off/pre season work to do. The one most common item I see neglected is line.
Your fishing line is the only link between you and the fish, why wouldn't you want new line every year? Or every month!? Ok maybe every month is excessive at times, but certainly you must change the line on your rods AND tip-ups every year. Even the best lines deteriorate over time and the edge of the ice creates small cuts in the line that you may not feel, so even spooling off ten or fifteen yards normally is not enough. The other obvious reason for the line change is the memory. Most ice angler use spinning reels on their ice rods, those spinning reels not only twist your line while using it, but also create a line memory issue after sitting for 8 months. To reduce line twists use a Fly Reel or The old standard ice reels you used to use as a kid.
Ice drills are certainly an item that is not remembered till you want to hit the ice. NOW is the time to take it out of the corner and look it over, or get it in now before the large winter rush of snow blowers and other items shops get pounded with as soon as we get cold weather. Gas caps begin to leak after a number of years, blades dull and recoil cords get frayed. Items like that you don’t remember till you areon the ice normally, take a look at them now and be prepared this season. Jiffy Ice Drills' service center in Sheboygan Falls, WI becomes extremely busy the second week of December, but right now the turnaround is within a few days.
Tip-ups I believe see more abuse than most other items during the season and off, but there is some simple thing you can do to those tip ups to keep them working well every year. It’s as simple as re-lubing them with any of the cold weather lubes available from HT Enterprises or Frabill. Most tip-ups disassemble very easily and the process of lubing them is easy to accomplish, and worth every minute.
Throughout my process of doing all this I get a chance to reminisce about the season past. It’s interesting sometimes the items you come across while cleaning everything up. Besides braking off a few dried up minnows and wax worms from hooks and jigs, I believe I have acquired 2 pairs of gloves and 3 hats that did not belong to me at the beginning of last season. So, if you went fishing with me last year and left you hat or gloves in my sleds or ATV, please contact me, lol.
There are many more things to check. How are the runners on the bottom of you sled/shack? You have gloves, boots, hats? Reels lubed? Replenish jigs and plastics? All the paint out of the eyes of your jigs? Of course checking batteries, ATV or snow machine maintenance. Do this now!
Look into all the things you can now, before it’s too cold, and before you are behind the rush of folks purchasing all the new equipment. Most stores have a good selection of ice fishing equipment out already, or will within a week or two. Get this stuff taken care of, and enjoy your hunting season! See you on the ice!