Hardwater Preparations

Hardwater preparation throughout the year means more fishing time to catch big crappie like this one

Hardwater preparation throughout the year means more fishing time to catch big crappie like this one

As the leaves change and fall ushers in the brisk weather, it signifies the start of the ice fishing season. While the cooler temperatures are firming up our shorelines, the sorting of tackle and prepping of gear begins. There are many things that get a place on my “to do list” when I prepare for the hardwater.


Although I wash my clothing at the end of every season, I often find myself giving it another spin cycle prior to using it for the winter months. Many times, I will fish into late fall. These last open water outings require a comfort factor that only my ice fishing clothing can offer. It is during these trips that fish slime, minnow scales, and other fishy secretions find their way onto my gear. One last bath ensures that I start the season out fresh.


Like many, my feet are usually the first to feel the frigid temperatures. I will give them a quick check over for any cracks that may have shown up and spray them down with a water repellent spray.


My shelters rarely see the light after the end of April. The covers are placed on and they are tucked away until winter shows its face. Opening them up and letting them air out not only lets any of the stored odors out, but also gives you the opportunity to check for any rips or tears that you may have missed prior to storing. On my shelters with sliding poles, I like to run steel wool along them followed by a generous coating of powdered graphite. This removes any nicks or particles that hinder them to slide and allows them to move with ease.


During the off season, I like to start my augers once a month. This keeps all the internal parts lubricated and allows for easier starting when it is needed to pop holes. I will also check my blades and replace if needed. Prior to storing, I wipe them down with cooking oil to prevent corrosion and I will repeat this throughout the season.

Flashers and Electronics

Like my augers, my electronics also receive attention during the off season. While I utilize them during the summer months, I will check my batteries and place them on the charger periodically. Charging your batteries during the off season will greatly increase your battery life.

Rods and Reels

When I put everything away for the summer, I remove all of my reels and loosen the drags. I inspect the blanks and place the reels back on each rod. It is also at this time that each reel receives a new spool of line. I often use the lightest line that I can get away with for my fishing technique. Having the lightest possible line, I will often change my line a couple times during the ice season to ensure strength and durability.


Where do I begin? I generally don’t have to do a lot of organizing, but I will go through my tackle and inspect everything making an inventory of what I may need. I keep my ice jigs and my jigging spoons organized throughout the season which allows me more time fishing and less time searching. My ice jigs are organized from different sizes of tungstens to different sizes in lead. I also have a smaller box that has a mix of everything that I may need. This mixed box allows me to just bring what I need onto the ice and remain mobile throughout the day.


I have searched to try to find an adequate plastics storage system for a few years and this year I found a solution. I store all my plastics in small zip bags organized by style and color. These are then placed inside a larger zip bag attached to a binder system. The entire bag is then zipped up and all of my plastics are at my disposal.


With everything else out of the way, I make sure my ATV is in good running condition and ready to hit the ice. This season, I fabricated a new rack system which allows me to carry 2 shelters without dragging them across the ice. I have 2″ receivers mounted on both the front and the rear. A 2″ bar is easily placed inside each one and has a blank sled that each shelter fits firmly inside. On the handlebars, my Lowrance HDS 7 is mounted with dual RAM mounts to ensure stability. I also have a passenger seat with added storage for extra items that may be needed. On the side of this storage seat, I have a rod box on each side mounted with a slide system for easy and fast removal. The front rack has dual auger carriers securely mounted.

While my list may seem extreme, I want to ensure that I have everything ready to go when the ice sheet forms. Having your equipment prepped will not only ensure longevity of those products, but will keep you fishing longer and without frustrations on the ice. Take some time, go through your equipment, and be safe this upcoming season!

Filed Under: FeaturedIce Fishing Tips


Team Stopper About the Author: Ice fishing tips, techniques, tactics and ice fishing tackle and gear product information from various K & E Tackle Stopper Lures Team Stopper Pro Staff members. K & E Stopper Lures produces the best assortment of ice fishing tackle and gear you know on the market. You can find their products lines such as Best, Arnold, Bear Creek, Moon Jigs, Dot, Carlisle, Sitka, Skandia, Whip'R and more at your nearest sporting goods store, or online at AnglersMart.com.

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