End of Season Ice Fishing Equipment Care

Before the lakes froze up, I posted an article on preparing gear for use after it had been in storage during the off season. Last week, I posted an article on late ice safety as it seems spring will be arriving early this year. It won’t be long until the ice is gone and we put away our ice fishing gear for another year. A little bit of preparation before stowing your gear in the attic can help add longevity to the life of your gear, and make things easier for you next season.

Just like in the beginning of the season, it’s a good idea to air out your portable shelter. It’s perhaps more important to thoroughly air out canvas shelters in the spring than the fall because you want to get all of the moisture from condensation out of the fabric before you store it for eight months. I like to set up my shelter in my garage on a nice day and leave it for a couple of hours to dry out. If you have a pop-up shelter that comes in a carrying bag, make sure the bag is dried out. Also, make sure all of your anchors and tie down ropes are accounted for before you pack it up for the season.

Just like with shelters, moisture can ruin lures sitting in storage as well. I have learned from personal experience that a little bit of water in a tackle box can make a lot of rusty hooks. Make sure your ice fishing lures and their containers are dry. If you have time, you may even want to inspect the hooks and split rings on your lures for rust or other damage and make sure the hook points are all still sharp.

With ice augers, you have two options for storage: dry tank and wet tank storage. Dry tank storage means running off all of the fuel in your power auger before storage. Storing with a dry tank may result in carb components drying out but will prevent fuel residue buildup. If you choose to store your auger with fuel in the tank (wet tank), make sure you use stabilized fuel and run your auger every month of the off season for 5-10 minutes. More detailed instructions can be found on Rapala’s website. Further maintenance such as checking spark plugs, replacing blades, and carb cleaning probably make more sense in the fall before the ice season starts. However, before you hang up the auger for the season, do make sure to dry off the blades to prevent rust.

To prepare rods and reels for off-season storage, make sure that rods will be stored straight, without any bend in them. As with all ice fishing gear, make sure reels are dry to avoid rust damage. Loosen up the drag to relieve unnecessary pressure on drag components. Oil and grease your reels, and they should be ready to store.

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