By Dan Johnson

With ponds icing over, the edges of larger lakes stiffening up and below-freezing temps in the foreseeable forecast, this weekend might be the last chance for hardwater warriors to gear up before the first walkable ice arrives on select waters in the northern Midwest.

Yes, many hook-and-bullet fans are consumed by deer season. But the lure of first ice is hard to resist. With aggressive fish ganged up and easy to find, the early season is a magical time on ice.

To make sure your gear is as ready for action as you are, give everything a once-over, from augers and shelters to rods, reels, line and lures. Check those drill blades, fire up your auger, test your heater and repair any damage to your portable shelter. In a similar vein, take time to clean and re-spool reels, and sharpen the hooks of your favorite jigs, spoons and other baits.

Speaking of lures, it’s smart to organize everything and take note of what you need to upgrade your arsenal. Make sure to take advantage of tackle trends such as the rise in tungsten jigs like Lindy’s Tungsten Toad, which allows you to fish a small head in deep water or thick cover. And don’t miss one of the hottest new lures out there for panfish, walleyes and more—Lindy’s Perch Talker—which sports colored brass beads and discs for a fish-attracting performance of clicks, rattles and flashes.

To help feed your ice fishing fever and catch your limit of timely tips, check out Fish Ed TV on Fox Sports North, Saturday mornings at 10:30. Veteran guide and Lindy pro staffer Jon Thelen travels the Midwest tracking down the region’s best bites, and brings you guide-tested tips and tricks for taking the most walleyes, panfish and pike on every trip.

On this week’s show, Jon travels to North Dakota’s legendary Devils Lake to square off with well-fed farm-country walleyes. After icing more than a few of these High Plains beauties, Jon unveils a foolproof plan for suspended winter crappies. Be prepared to take notes, because both segments are loaded with must-see tips on fish location, tackle selection and presentational pointers.