by Bob Jensen
In other parts of North America, anglers have the good fortune to have the opportunity to go ice-fishing for several months out of the year. If you live in an area where ice-fishing is a reality, you’re probably starting to think about it. Before you get too wrapped up in ice-fishing, you need to store your open water gear so it’s ready to go when open water fishing season returns. Following are some ideas for storing your open water fishing stuff.
The best place to start is with your boat. You can probably get by with just parking it in the garage and not doing much to it for a year, maybe two, but eventually, improper storage will create headaches and expenses.
Have the motor winterized. Some handy anglers can do this themselves: I’m not handy. However, the motor that I run, an Evinrude E-TEC, can be winterized by anyone. It’s a simple two minute deal. What I really like about this is, if I find out the walleyes are going on the river, I can go fishing and, when I’m done for the day, I can quickly and efficiently winterize the boat again. If you have to take the boat to a mechanic for winterizing, you’re probably not going to take advantage of those unexpected fishing opportunities.
Remove the boat’s drain plug. Also, make sure there’s no water in the lower unit of the motor. If there is, and if it freezes, you could have big problems come spring.
Check for line in the prop of your outboard and electric motor. Also check for dings in the prop and have them fixed.
Some folks take the batteries out of their boats and store them someplace where it’s not cold, but if you want to leave them in the boat, make sure the battery is charged and then disconnect the wires. Check the charge of the battery a couple of times during the winter.
Lots of anglers like to take the depth-finders out of their boats.
Do a walk around the trailer. If you’ve got a bad tire, replace it.
Make sure all the trailer lights are working. Now is the time to fix any that aren’t.
Get as much boat/trailer maintenance done now that you can so you’re ready to hit the water when you want to.
When it comes to reels, back off on the drag. Reel experts say it’s harmful to the reel to store it with the drag tightened down.
If your line needs to be replaced, strip off fifty yards. I like to take the line off now, but I replace it in the spring.
Open your tackle box and let it dry out. You don’t want to store your baits in a wet tray.
If you take care of these tasks now, you’ll be ready to go when the water warms up and the fish start biting in the spring.