Packing It Up till Next Winter
After declaring the hardwater done a couple of weeks ago, I finally had some time to "summerize" all of my ice gear this week. All my ice fishing gear needs to be prepped for months of non-use and stored properly, which is something that most of us do to keep our gear in top shape for when the next hardwater season returns. This involves proper cleaning and storage of our rods, reels, lures, sleds/hubs, and auger, even the electric ones.
I strip all line off my reels, except for those that I'll be using to vertical jig with from my pontoon. If left on, the line will have a lot of memory in it from not being used and many mono and fluorocarbon lines degrade over time anyways so it's always good to take the old off and spool with fresh line at the start of the next ice season.
Reels should be inspected and stored in a cool, dry area. Rods are all stored in a high place to minimize any accidents like tripping on them or getting lost in the nooks and crannies of a basement. I also recommend putting those little moisture bags you find in your medicine capsules or other products in your tackle boxes as they will help suck up any residual moisture on your lures and keep them from rusting over the summer.
All suits, gloves, and beanies are washed to get the months old smells of fish, bait, and other stenches off them. Most ice suits require the gentle cycle and low tumble to be cleaned effectively without damaging the waterproof/windproof layers in the suits.
All flip over sleds and hubs should be placed up and left to dry out before being stored. If mice can be an issue over the summer months, put dryer sheets in between the layers on your flip overs and hubs. They usually work to dissuade the rodents from taking up residence in your fabric coverings.
Gas augers should be stored with some fresh gas in their tanks along with a cap full of a gas stabilizer, like Sea Foam or Stabil, and turned on once every month or so to keep the seals and hoses from drying out and cracking. The stabilizers will also help keep the motor clean. Auger blades, including those of us who use the K-Drill auger system, should have a little WD-40 put on the blades to keep them rust free over the summer.
If you use some of these methods to protect and store your ice fishing gear, you'll be better prepared once the next season comes around, as your gear will be ready to go and free of any defects or problems that could result from improper storage of them. With the investment we put into our ice gear, it's always nice when they're ready to go as soon as the cold weather inevitably returns.