Ice-fishing season is upon us

Although the big waters in Sunset Country, like Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake, are far from being ready for anglers to hit the ice, many of the smaller, inland waters have been frozen for a couple of weeks and I’ve been hearing reports of good fishing for walleyes, crappies, and stocked trout.
Now that hunting season has begun to wind down, it’s time to start preparing for the upcoming ice-fishing season.
Ice fishing is the fastest-growing aspect of the fishing industry these days as there have been great strides in the equipment available to anglers that make the whole experience warmer and allows anglers to simply catch more fish.
Flashers, shelters, augers, clothing, and tackle all have been developed specifically for the ice angler.
First ice is a great time to get out there as some of the hottest bites of the year are taking place. Just remember there are some general ice guidelines anglers should follow early in the season before the ice becomes super-thick.
If ice is less than two inches, stay off of it! It is recommended that folks wait until there is four inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot, six inches for a snowmobile or ATV, and at least 12 inches for a vehicle.
I’ve spent the last few days getting my ice gear ready to rock for the upcoming season. Drag your stuff out of the garage and check it over so there are no surprises on your first outing.
I like to use a hand auger for the first few weeks up until the ice gets to be about a foot thick. A hand auger is light, quick, and easy to use—just as long as the ice is not too thick.
Check to see that the blades are sharp, and that they are attached to the auger nice and tight.
If you run a power auger, load it up with fresh gas (even step up to the premium, high-octane stuff and you’ll notice your auger starts quicker and runs better). Also give it a quick check-over to make sure everything is tight, the recoil is functioning properly, and that it starts.
If there are problems, take care of them now before the season really kicks off.
My Otter portable shelter needed a little bit of love and care, too. You never want to put an auger in one of these shelters without a cover on the blades or they will put holes in the tent rather easily. I had to repair a couple of small tears in the tent, but other than that it is ready to go.
I have loaded it with all my tackle, rods, heater, and other gear I need to be versatile on the ice.
Flashers are becoming more and more popular every year with ice anglers and most I know use one of these units now. I use a MarCum LX5 and honestly would not even go ice-fishing without this unit. It tells me if there are fish below my hole, what depth my bait is working at, and if fish are interested in my presentation.
It absolutely will increase your catches tremendously for all species.
Before you take your flasher out, though, make sure the battery is charged and that all the wires are in good condition.
Now you should be ready to hit the hardwater for another season on the ice. But remember, we have a plenty long-enough winter in Sunset Country so don’t hit the ice until it is safe to do so.

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