I know most of you still have plenty of open water fishing left to do this year (myself included), but it isn't too early to be preparing your hard water equipment for the upcoming ice fishing season. Here are a few reasons to start early, and it will save you a few headaches and some frozen fingers come winter.
Auger maintenance is the first thing on my list. Whether you are using a power auger or a hand cranking model it is important to check your blades and make sure they are sharpened. Nothing is worse than trying to drill a good clean hole in the ice with a dull blade. Also be sure to give that power auger a good test and tune-up before it is too late. You can take it in to your local dealer now and still get it back in time for ice up.
The next thing I like to do is head to my favorite tackle store and start refilling the tackle bag with enough ice fishing jigs, line, tools and accessories to last me well into the season. The stores are stocking the equipment now and if you wait too long most of the good items will be gone. Waiting for your favorite style jigs to come in while the "first ice" bite is on can make your hair fall out. Trust me on this one. Have you seen my profile picture? I am wearing a hat for a reason.
Check your boots. With the great quality of insulated boots we have on the market today, these should last you quite awhile but it is worth a look to see if the soles are worn, stitching is loose, or if they need to be sprayed with a water-repellent to keep them in top-notch condition. You hunters have probably done this already, but the fishing only anglers need to take the time. Wet, cold feet can ruin even the best hard water bite.
Go out to the garage and open up the portable ice shanty and see if it needs any repair. Check the bottom, top, and sides for any rips in the seams. These can easily be fixed now and keep the rips from getting worse later. Check the poles, springs, ropes, carpet, depending on what style you have. We have had our shelter for a number of years and a little maintenance can keep them in great condition for many seasons.
There are other items that need to be checked also. Your electronics need to be checked and tested. Battery terminals and connections should be cleaned of any corrosion now, so you don't have them fail while you are jigging over your favorite crappie hole. Fire up the portable heater and make sure it is in working order. Have you checked the elements in your lantern? Do you have any spares?
For you snowmobilers, you better get your sleds tuned-up and running early to avoid any delays at the repair shop once the snow starts to fall.
Enjoy the rest of the open water season. I know I will, but it is never too early to be thinking of the great ice fishing season that is ahead of us. A little preparation now can mean a whole lot of success this winter.
I will be heading to Saint Germain, WI on Monday with my wife Shirley for some early fall crappie fishing and maybe a musky or two. Looking forward to some great fishing, and a few good dinners too! Will be posting pictures on our Facebook site at Cappy's Pond and on http://cappyspond.com or on http://kirk-cappyspage.blogspot.com
Remember, you can't catch any fish if your line isn't in the water.