As usual, I feel blindsided by the change in weather from fall to winter. Only a couple of weeks ago I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt while working in the field and complaining that my insulated boots were too warm. Now I can’t seem to wear enough layers. The temperatures have been so cool that ice is starting to form on many waterbodies, although safe ice appears to be a long way off.
This is the time of year where Darrell and I find ourselves in a sort of limbo when it comes to fishing. Some types of fishing are through for the year, while others are only just getting started. We tend to hit the water less during this transition, and spend some more time organizing our fishing gear.
The first thing we had to do with the changing seasons was to admit that the big boat would not see water again this year. Not having heated storage means that she needs to be properly winterized by flushing the water out of the motor using antifreeze. No one wants to find a crack in their motor due to ice formation when they head out in the spring. While it’s always a great idea to leave this task to the professionals, being on a tight budget meant we were giving it a go ourselves. We’ll know how well we did next spring. If you need to perform this task, there are many helpful tutorials on YouTube.
Our 12ft tinny is kept in running shape much longer than the big boat. If we take her out using the gas motor, we make sure to run the gas out at the end of the trip, then we put the motor inside. The only other thing we do after the water freezes is to flip the boat upside down so she doesn’t collect snow, water, and ice.
Once the open water season is done, we remove the reels from each rod and back off their drag. Backing off the drag will prolong the life of the drag spring and keeps your reels going for many seasons. The rods get inspected for any potential problems, then get put in a safe area where they can’t be tripped over before the next season.
Now is the time we get the ice hut out, open it up to air out, clean it up, and look for anything needing repairs. A quick check of the zippers and seats while out in the yard can save us from freezing on the ice.
Ice rods get pulled out of storage, reels get attached, and decisions are made about new line for each rod. We may change the type of line on a particular setup if we didn’t like the feel of it during the previous season. This is also a great time to review what you have, consider your plans for the upcoming season, and pick up additional gear if required.
The changing seasons mean a lot of work with safety gear. The boat safety kits come inside, the life jackets get hung in a closet, and the ice safety gear gets inspected and placed in a tote.
If you like to fish throughout the year, chances are good that you will find yourself changing gear. It’s always a good idea to take a few days and get things looked after properly so your gear will be ready for the following year.
Now bring on the ice!