Now that the ice season has pretty much ended across the country as well as in popular areas of Canada, it is important that all of the gear that we use during the season is cared for and stored in a manner which will guarantee it works at the start of next season with minimal effort.
There are many forums, tips and videos out there to help with this process so there really is no one right way to do it, but I'll share how I store everything so that it's ready to go once the cold returns in just over 200 days.
First off, our flip-over shelters and hubs need to be set up and left to dry out entirely before going into storage. Any wetness left in over the next 6 months could cause mold or other damage to the material.
Also, if you're worried about mice getting into your shelters to make their own shelter, multiple methods are available, but a cheap route is to use dryer sheets. The smell seems to keep rodents away and it leaves a pleasant smell in the shelter for most of the following ice season. I also recommend elevating it off the ground if possible as another deterrent.
You may not think you should store your lures like your shelter, but moisture left in tackle boxes or other containers can cause hooks to rust and you may need to replace your expensive tungsten jigs and spoons quicker than you would like.
You know those little silicon baggies that come in bottles of vitamins or other items that need to be kept dry? They are the perfect way to keep your tackle dry through the off-season, as they are designed to suck out the moisture from what's around them. So if you got any lying around, put them to good use.
For pole maintenance, all I do is take the line off of most of my reels that have mono or fluorocarbon on them since by next season, the line will be worthless with all of the memory in it.
My reels with braided line, however, I leave on as it does not degrade much and remains supple for a very long time. Plus braided line is more expensive so I figure there's no sense in getting rid of it if it's going to last so long anyways.
I also remove the reels from rods that are attached with Cold Snap Wraps so that the cork remains in good condition while they are not in use.
Lastly, our gas augers. While I use the Clam Conversion Kit most of the time and will give the batteries a refresher charge throughout the summer, my Jiffy gas auger still needs to be started once in a while to keep the seals moistened and fresh gas in the engine.
I fill the tank half full with fresh gas and then add a little bit of Sea Foam additive to it. Some people use Sta-bil as well which does the same thing. Comes down to preference is all.
The additive will help keep the engine cleaner and lead to better engine starting come next winter. I bring the auger up from the basement once a month and start it up to put fresher fuel in the lines and keep the engine running smooth.
This process hasn't failed me yet and the auger is nearly 10 years old and starts without any problems at the beginning of the following season.
So be sure to take care of your ice gear now that the off-season is here. A little care and maintenance goes a long way to ensuring that your investments won't fail you come next winter and the ways to maintain the gear doesn't have to be expensive.
The additive is the most expensive part for my maintenance needs. Take care of your ice gear now and it'll take care of you next season.