Temperatures in the northern plain are steadily dropping, so it’s time to think about putting together your ice fishing setup. If you’re like me, your ice fishing gear has been gathering dust since last season.
1. Basics of ice fishing
Clean and relubricate flags and reels on tip-ups and reels on jigging poles so they both spin freely. Replace ragged flags and lines if necessary. Sharpen your snail blade. If you use an auger, you can tweak it with new plugs, oil and air filters, 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, support, and clothing a careful inspection. Set up shanty generators to dump electricity and heat, patch holes in lean-tos, check your boots and cleats, and collect your gloves, masks and hats. Don’t forget a new pack or two of hand warmers. Open one and put it in your t-shirt pocket. By keeping your core warm, your extremities will also stay roasted.
3. Ice fishing equipment
Swing past a bait shop to pick up new ice fishing tackle and purchase new hooks to replace your rusted ones. Clean your bait bucket. Charge the batteries for all electronics and be sure to download new maps and charts.
4. Ice fishing ice thickness
Monitor ice thickness before leaving 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 good for an ATV or snowmobile, eight to 12 inches is best for a small vehicle, and over 12 inches works for average size pickups. Ice fishing safety is essential. So check the thickness by calling other anglers and comparing it to the measurements from your local bait shop.
Organizing your ice fishing setup will make your day fun. If you’ve never ice fishing before, read the ice fishing section before you set off.
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a contributing writer for Covey Rise magazine, a contributing editor for Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program. Keer is a regular contributor to over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics including fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor activities. When not fishing, Keer and his family hunt highland birds over their three English setters. His first book, A New England Coast Fly Fishing Guide, was published in January 2011. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or www.thekeergroup.com.