It’s still an eternity away, but ice fishermen need to start preparing for hard water right now, Lindy Fishing Tackle Brand Manager Gregg Thorne said. Thorne is a former bait shop owner, rod builder and well-respected authority on Minnesota and Midwest fishing.

“You know the saying, an organized angler is a happy angler,” Thorne said. “It’s really important to start preparing and organizing everything now, so you’ll be ready when the hard water arrives.”

Thorne speaks from experience. Over the years, he’s had all of these miscues hamper his early season fishing trips.
“No. 1, check your gear,” Thorne said. “Start going through it now. Make a checklist so you won’t overlook something.”

Thorne’s checklist starts with checking his auger. Sharpen the blade or, if needed, buy a new one. Do it now, because once the ice is thick you might not be able to find one in the stores. Clean the carburetor, which can get gummed up as the auger sat unattended all spring and summer.

“I’d say 95 percent of the time when an auger won’t start it’s because of the carburetor,” Thorne said.
Batteries for lights, cameras and ice houses need to be checked as well. Thorne also says it’s important to check ice shacks or tents for damage.

“Mold and mice seem to be the most common damage you’ll see after they’ve sat in a garage or barn all summer,” Thorne said. “You don’t want to pull it out the day before you’re going out on the ice and see mold all over it.”

Rods and reels are next on the list. Thorne said fishermen often leave the drag cranked up too tight all summer, which can damage the reel’s clutch. Sometimes the reel can be salvaged by taking it apart, cleaning it out and then re-lubing all the parts, but other times you just have to bite the bullet and replace it. Then, it’s time to focus on your tackle box.

“You want to kick out the old stuff and stock up on the new,” Thorne said. “The new Lindy Perch Talker, the 360 Jig, the emerald shiner Rattl’n Flyer, and the Tungsten Toad are always going to be in my tackle box. So I’m going to make sure I’ve got all the right colors and accessories for fishing them.

“Take care of your preparations now and you’ll be ready for a great ice season.”