Ontario Ice Fishing

10 Pre-Ice Fishing Tips
By  Tim Allard

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With autumn coming to a close, ice fishing season is just around the corner. Now's the time to audit your gear and make sure your organized for first ice action. To help you get ready, here's a list of 10 things I do to get ready for the hard-water.

1. Charge up your batteries
It's recommended that during storage in the off season, you periodically charge batteries used in flashers and underwater camera systems. If you've been neglecting your batteries, charge them right away. While you're at it, give your electronics an overhaul and make sure everything is in working order. Without these tools you'll be fishing blind.

2. Give your auger an overhaul
Whether you use a manual or a gas-powered auger, give it an overhaul before the ice hits, checking blades and tightening screws. For a power auger, start it up, make sure you've got a spare spark plug and enough oil for the season. If there's anything wrong with your gas auger get it serviced right away by an authorized dealer.

3. Spruce up the shelter
It's a good idea to check your portable shelter and get it out of storage to make sure everything is in working order. Things that you might have forgotten about since your last outing (like a tear in the material) or storage surprises (like mice nesting in the unit) are problems to be dealt before your first ice trip of the season. Simply assemble the hut and check for tears in fabric, tighten bolts and nuts, ensure the tow rope is ok, and so on.

4. Get your accessories ready
Take some time to ponder your past trips and stock up on items you need for ice fishing. Here are a few suggestions: a headlamp with fresh batteries, a thermos, a warmer pair of boots, a new ice scoop, a minnow bucket and net, a tackle storage bag and see-through plastic tackle boxes.

5. Get your safety gear in order
Don't neglect your safety gear. Make sure you've got ice picks, a throw line, a 2-way radio batteries with fresh batteries, a first aid kit, and a bag of spare clothes in case you get wet.

6. Scout out lakes
With open water season still here take the time to investigate some lakes you plan on ice fishing. Mark good-looking spots in your GPS or on a hydrographic map and pay close attention to where there are still healthy weeds; these spots are prime at first ice.

7. Check your rods.
Did you bust a rod last year that you haven't replaced yet? Well now's the time to carefully inspect all your fishing rods, replacing any broken ones and adding to your collection. Also, to keep your rods organized and protected consider buying a rod carrying case, like HT's Rod Locker or Tackle Tote.

8. Spool up your reels.
Put some fresh line on your reels. Remember to first put a layer of mono backing on if using braid. You might also want to lube reels up with a cold temperature grease.

9. Get your tip-ups ready
Hopefully you didn't store tip-ups in the heat over the summer. If so, and you're using underwater models, they might have leaked grease and will need to be lubricated. Also, check that you've got enough line on the spools.

10.Organize and overhaul your tackle.
Go through your tackle and make a list of what's missing (do you have enough lures as well as terminal tackle). Stock up on these items now before tackle shops run short once ice season is in full swing. Once you've got your tackle, get it ready by popping paint out of lure eyes, sharpening hooks, and organizing it in storage cases.

These are just 10 things you can do to be better prepared for the beginning of ice season this year. Take some time now to get organized, and have a great hard-water season this year.

Photos by Tim Allard