Lots to keep busy during downtime

For all the anglers out there, this time of year always offers up a bit of a breather.
Sure, you can find a place to walk out on the ice to fish for lake trout, or search for those first bits of open water and get a boat wet. But for the most part, we are in a two-week span where fishing takes a break.
Since fishing is my focus for so much of the year, I enjoy the downtime.
That being said, what does the angler do with their spare time during the ice-out period? Since fishing is such a big part of my life, I have a lot of gear and I like to make sure all my ice-fishing equipment is put away properly over the summer months.
This means that I run some gas stabilizer through the auger motor, as well as take stock of any broken parts on my augers, fishing rods, or shelters. I also make sure I completely dry the tent on my portable shelters.
If you store them when they are damp, there is a good chance they will have mold problems.
At the same time, with the open-water season coming down the pipe, I like to make sure all my gear for that is ready to go. I put new fishing line on my reels, make sure that tackle is sorted the way I want it in my Plano trays, and go over everything in the boat to make sure it’s tight and ready for a long season.
You want to make sure that everything is done right now so that once the season starts, you are not having to fix or replace anything.
Getting away from fishing-related stuff, another of my favourite activities at this time of year is hitting the woods and looking for shed deer and moose antlers (I have discussed shed hunting in this column during this time of year in the past).
When I got into shed hunting seven or eight years ago, it was when our deer population was at its peak and it was incredible the numbers of sheds I used to find. I had several days where I found more than 75 antlers in one day!
These days, it’s a lot tougher since the deer numbers outside of our urban areas are much smaller than they were back then. And I think a lot of the obvious hills and ridges have been picked over as more people get involved in this activity.
Still, there are some great sheds to be found for those motivated to hit the woods and put on the miles.
When I was younger, I used to love to hit as many yard sales as I could on a Saturday morning. It’s where I used to pick up a lot of my fishing equipment actually.
My wife, August, and my mom still spend a few Saturday mornings throughout the summer hitting yard sales, looking for cool stuff that other people can part with, and she keeps our garage filled up with stuff.
She especially likes old, project furniture that she can refurbish. Anyway, if you’re looking to collect some fishing equipment, yard sales are a great place to look.
Finally, on days when the weather is not very good, which are frequent lately, I spend my time in my office, trying to get ahead on writing projects for the upcoming year and get my summer schedule all planned out.
This includes booking some fishing guide trips and making plans for all the tournaments I’m fishing this summer.
Across Sunset Country, the nice weather is coming so we have a lot to look forward to!

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