Temperatures are consistently dropping in the Northern tier, so it's time to think about getting together your ice fishing setup. If you're like me your ice fishing gear has gathered dust since last season.
1. Ice Fishing Essentials
Clean and relubricate flags and reels on tip ups and reels on jigging rods so that they both spin freely. Replace tattered flags and line if necessary. Sharpen your auger blade and if you're using a power auger then give it a tune up with new plugs, and oil and air filter, and oil and fresh gas. Don't forget your ladle...
2. Ice Fishing Essentials Redux
Warmth is the name of the game, so give your shanty, lean-to and clothing a careful inspection. Tune up shanty generators so they throw off power and heat, patch up holes in lean-tos, check out your boots and cleats, and gather your gloves, masks and hats. Don't forget a new pack or two of handwarmers. Open one and place it in your t-shirt pocket; by keeping your core warm your extremities stay roasty-toasty, too.
3. Ice Fishing Equipment
Swing by a baitshop to pick up new ice fishing jigs and to buy new hooks to replace your rusted ones. Clean your bait bucket. Charge batteries for all electronics and be sure to download new maps and charts.
4. Ice Fishing Ice Thickness
Monitor ice thickness before you trot out your shanty. If it's under 4 inches, stay away. Four to five inches of new ice is strong enough for foot activities (like ice fishing). Five to seven inches is fine for an ATV or snowmobile, eight to 12 inches is best for a small vehicle and over 12 inches works for average-sized pickups. Ice fishing safety is essential, so check for thickness by calling other anglers and cross-reference with measurements from your local baitshop.
Getting your ice fishing setup organized helps make your day fun. If you've never gone ice fishing before then check out the how to ice fish section before you go.