While ice fishing got started late this winter, it turned out to be a good, cold and late season. In some spots in Northern and Upper Michigan, there was ice until mid-April! Now that the season has ended, sportsmen and women are turning their attention to turkey season and open water fishing, many are stashing their gear away. But before you do, take a little time to make sure when you go to break out the buckets and shanties in December you are prepared.
A common mistake many Michigan ice fishers make is to put their portable shanties away right after using them. Be sure to air them out. If possible, put them back up so that all of the moisture from snow, ice and condensation get dried out. This will prevent mold, rusting and possible damage to your canvas. Additionally, place dryer sheets in the shanty. This may help prevent unwanted pests like mice or spiders from making their home in the shanty over the summer and doing damage.
Be sure to check your blades before storing it away. Do they need to be sharpened? Is there any rust on them that needs to be taken care of? If you use a gas auger, does the gas need Sta-bil added to it? Or perhaps you may want to take the spark plug out as a reminder to change the plug over the summer. A smart way to prevent gum up within your motor is to start your auger once a month over the summer at a minimum.
What kind of condition are your rods in? Does your line need to be stripped? Did winter take its toll on your line? Additionally, it may be a good idea to spray your reels with lubricant to keep your bearings from seizing up.
The same rules apply for tip-ups. Does your reel need to be oiled up before storing? Does the backing line need to be replaced? Additionally, you may want to remove any hooks and replace the leader line so it is fresh and ready to go next winter.
As it was a good season, perhaps you got out ice fishing across the state a few times. As a result, did you go through any teardrops or swedish pimples? Did some of your tackle get beat up? Take inventory now and if possible replace your tackle so that you aren’t scrambling come first ice next year. Additionally, buying tackle now on clearance means you can find great end of season deals!
As a general rule, pack your ice fishing gear away for the season as if you would be able to go fishing tomorrow. Since ice conditions are always hard to predict, you never know next season when you may want to be able to quickly jump out on first ice. Make sure your gear is ready too.