Just about the time the leaves are all off the trees is a good time to start a preseason inventory of your ice fishing equipment. One never knows when an early cold snap will safely freeze ponds and protected inland waters affording your first safe opportunity for ice fishing – and you want to be ready to go!
The first thing to check is your line. You may have reels dedicated to ice fishing or you might be multi-tasking your ultra-light spinning reel. In either case, you will want fresh line of your choice. The good news is you don’t have to refill your entire spool. Since most ice fishing is relatively shallow, about 30 yards of fresh line should last the entire ice fishing season. My preference is a high visibility Stren in Blue or Gold with about a 3-foot fluorocarbon leader. So how do you join fresh line to old or add a fluorocarbon tippet? Many fly fishermen are familiar with the Blood Knot, which is not nearly as hard to tie as some diagrams would lead you to believe. To learn how, there’s a great Angler Resources article that breaks it down.
Let me recommend organizing your ice fishing jigs by like kinds in multiple small boxes. If you’ve ever spilled a large tray of jigs you’ll know why! Small boxes like the Plano Micro Tackle Organizer, the FishUSA Logo Clear Fly Box or a Myran Fly Box enable you to organize jigs, spoons, or plastics and easily fit in your coat pocket. One important tip: For your plastics, use a Troutbeads Bead Box. You can store plastics in this box without them melting into the box. Another idea for efficiently storing and organizing your plastics is to leave them in the original pack, use a paper punch to make a small hole, then string them together on a shower curtain hook or carabiner.
Gas augers may need a tune-up. Check the charge if you have an electric auger. Don’t wait til mid-season if you lose an auger bit or damage one – they might be hard to find then. It’s always good to have a spare auger bit for an emergency change, especially if you travel long distances to your ice fishing grounds. Just about every accessory for augers you may need are supplied by FishUSA.
Set up your shelter. Check for holes (mice can do damage!) and tears. Duct tape works wonders for quick repairs. Repair or replace bent support poles and check all the zippers and snaps. Just like with augers, FishUSA is committed to a full line of parts and accessories to keep your shelter in optimum condition.
Finally, browse through the FishUSA website to see what’s new for the upcoming ice fishing season. New products, especially shelters and electronics are featured here. While shelters and electronics are not something you buy every year, lures and baits certainly are! FishUSA has over 200 ice fishing lures, most of which are stocked in multiple sizes and colors. The inventory is like a Who’s Who of ice fishing lure manufacturers! So stock up on your favorites and try something new!