While some of us in higher elevations or further north in the country, have been on or are getting on first ice soon, there are still plenty of ice fishermen and women waiting to get on. Even for those of us on early, our preparations for that ice started weeks ago or may still be happening.
Flip-over sleds and hubs need to be put up and checked for any material damaged and to air them out for a bit. Our tackle boxes and bags need be looked over for any signs of damage or rust to any of our lures. Gas augers, which should have been checked monthly during the off-season, should be given fresh fuel and given maintenance checks. All batteries for the Vexilar’s and electric drills on our Clam Conversion Kit plates should be given a full charge if they weren't maintained over the summer.
A good portion of my ice season prep is devoted to spooling and connecting reels and rods together. For the last couple of seasons, I've been running with Clam Pro Tackle's Frost ice line, which is a very superior line designed specifically for cold and icy conditions and was field-tested intensely by the company's Ice Team pros.
I use all three-line types for all my reels, from mono to fluorocarbon to braid. My panfish/trout reels all get a full spool of 4# or 5# fluorocarbon on them. Due to the characteristics of Frost fluoro, it doesn't end up with a lot of memory in it like other fluorocarbon lines, so I have no problem spooling up my reels with it alone.
Reels used on dead sticks tend to get 6# or 8# Frost mono spooled on, with some of my heavier setups getting 10# Frost braid on them. My walleye/pike/lake trout reels all get 10# braid.
Like many of us, most of my rods do not have a reel seat on them and the reels must be attached to them. While electrical tape was always a way of doing this in the past, the tape can come off or it can leave sticky residue on the handles of your expensive rods.
So, I use Cold Snap Reel Wraps from Cold Snap Outdoors to attach all my reels to their appropriate rod. There is no residue left behind and the handles remain in great shape. The container the wraps come in doubles as a tool to help get the wraps onto your handles and rolled into place.
Between spooling up every reel and then attaching the reels and rods together takes up an afternoon, but all my setups are ready for ice and the preparation has always been worth it.
As you prepare for first ice or start planning more trips onto ice, be sure you have taken the proper preparations to ensure your gear will be in top-notch condition. A little bit of time spent making sure everything is in working order will save you a lot of time, money, and headaches along the way.