Cooler fall temperatures are upon us. Most of the trees have shed their leaves across the midwest. Parts of the region even saw a little bit of snow this week. Though there is still plenty of fall left, winter will be here before we know it. With winter comes getting out on frozen lakes, drilling holes, and hoping to pull a fish (or two, or twenty) through them. I’m choosing to take advantage of the nice fall weather this weekend to get my ice fishing gear in order so it’s ready to go as soon as there is safe ice on area lakes. Here are some tips that can get you ready for the coming ice fishing season.

Air Out Your Portable Shelter

IMG_0828At first ice, hard-sided fish houses aren’t practical, so until there is sufficient ice, everyone will be out in portable ice shelters. I recommend airing out your portable ice fishing shack in the spring before you store it to make sure all the moisture from the ice season. Even after doing that, airing it out for an hour or so on a nice day in the fall will help get any musty scent out.Opening up your shelter also gives you an opportunity to check for holes that need to be patched before you get out on the ice. Keep the heat in and the cold out!

If you’re overenthusiastic about the ice season like me, you can sit in there with ice rod in hand, close your eyes and imagine you’re on a frozen lake. It won’t be long!

Top Off the Charge on Your Flasher

I suggest doing this midsummer as well. Plug in your Marcum, Vexilar, or Humminbird and bring it up to a full charge so it’s ready to go come first ice. Nothing is worse than having your flasher run out of juice on your first ice trip of the season.

Spool Fresh Line on Your Reels

I like monofilament line for ice fishing. I fish mostly for panfish and perch in winter, so a light line that won’t spook the fish is important to me. One of the disadvantages of monofilament fishing line is that it has memory. This can be exacerbated by sitting idle on your ice reels for several months between ice seasons. Luckily, monofilament is inexpensive, so refilling your spools should only cost a few bucks.

Organize Your Ice Jigs and Lures

If you’re anything like me, when you change lures in the ice shack, you clip one off and toss it in the box before tying on the next and before long your ice fishing tackle box is a huge mess. Clip off any line in the eyelets and check hooks for rust. Make sure everything is in its proper place so it will be easy to find when you’re out on the ice this winter.


My friends and I plan to be out at least every other weekend this winter, so we’ll have fishing reports up right here for the Detroit Lakes, Pelican Rapids, and Perham areas in Minnesota and Devils Lake and Valley City areas in North Dakota. Good luck and be safe out on the ice this season!



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