Prepare for a better ice fishing season!
By: Chris Viel
With hard water fishing right around the corner, here are four tips to make your experience more successful and enjoyable!
Replace your line. No matter what type of line I choose to use ice fishing, I use a standard rule to replace it every season. First, cold weather plays havoc on most lines, and the constant freezing and thawing tends to dry it out. This leaves the line brittle, and there is nothing more frustrating than loosing that first big fish of the season. Next, if you are anything like me, and fish late into the season, you are jigging over 3-4 feet of ice. This depth of ice can chew up multiple feet of line when reeling in fish, once again leaving your line vulnerable to breaks. With ice fishing reels only taking between 50-100 yards of line, it should only cost you between $10-$15 to replace a spool. This leaves you with no excuses!
Check your guides! Fishing rod guides are undoubtedly the most frequently neglected part of fishing equipment, yet they can either make or break your day. Ceramic guides are fairly tough, but can easily crack when exposed to extreme temperatures or if dropped or hit. For the most part, metal guides will not require any maintenance and will usually fall out before breaking. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find out if the guides are cracked on an ice fishing rod as there usually isn’t tension until a fish is hooked. One surefire way to check them is to take a Q-tip and wipe it around the inside of guides. If the cotton catches, there is a crack and it needs to be replaced!
Check your hooks! Unlike soft water fishing, your gear is constantly being exposed to snow and condensation during ice fishing. Whether kicking snow on it or having condensation build up after bringing in the gear from the cold, hooks take a real beating during ice season. Although I try to ensure there is no rust buildup and everything is dry before being packed away for spring, things can accumulate over the summer. Every fall, I go through each of my baits and ensure the hooks are sharp and rust free. Again, this cheap fix can save you a lot of headaches! One great tip is to buy a quality pair of split ring pliers that will make your life a thousand times easier!
Miscellaneous items. Depending on the gear you own, there are many other seasonal preparations that can be done. First, replace or treat the fuel in gas powered ice augers. While you are doing this, check your blades to ensure they are sharp. One of the most frustrating things mid season is finding out your blades are dull and stores are sold out. Second, test your electronics if you own a fish finder. Making sure your battery is still holding charge and your transducer still reads will save you disappointment on the first trip of the year. Lastly, don’t forget to check local regulations for any changes in slot size, limits and restrictions on all bodies of water. These rules can change annually and could cost you both money and your license!
Although it is still warm out, it’s never too early to start preparing for ice fishing season! I guarantee that the more time you take to ensure everything is ready for the first trip, the more fun and success you will experience as you will only have to concentrate on one thing: fishing!