Replace fishing line, scour the tackle box, buy new lures, and fire up that gas auger right now!
First ice already has arrived in some northerly destinations, and the heart of the ice belt will be enjoying prime early-ice angling success in just a matter of days or weeks.
Prepare your equipment now, so that when you have recreational hours for fishing, you can hit the ice running!
This is the time to add new line. (As I’ve written before, I always err on the side of very light line for ice angling.) Match your line with new lures, and use this time to analyze what’s new in lures. I digress, but I expect the impressive new ice plastics from companies such as Clam this season to produce excellent results.
Consider adding more tungsten to your tackle box. I wrote a blog in October about accelerating your lure drop for aggressive biters, and tungsten is absolutely a key ingredient in accomplishing that. (Buy the new, fresh stuff before they sell out!)
Go through your tackle box from last winter. Discard baits and lures that you have not used in the past two winters. They’re just confusing you, so get them out of there!
Do you have enough weights? Floats? I keep things simple and easy with a panfish and crappie/bluegill tackle box, then a walleye tackle box. That’s much quicker than rummaging through different lures for different species in different boxes.
Is your auger blade sharp? Now’s the time to sharpen it, and if you have an auger, start it before you hit the ice. Sometimes augers still have old gas from eight months ago, and they don’t want to start. Figure that out now, instead of on the ice.
If you have a cordless drill auger, charge up that battery. I like one with an 18V or larger or stronger battery. If it no longer holds a charge, consider a new one.
Finally, have some fun and choose new lakes. (That should be on the agenda year-round.) Finding and exploring new lakes forces us to fish differently and learn more. Such actions drive more techniques and presentations, thus improving our angling knowledge.
Consider scouting some of those locations now in your boat. I won’t guarantee that fish will be in the same place once ice-over occurs, because so many factors affect fish locations. But you can learn the lake and improve your efficiency when you’re fishing on foot in a few weeks.
It’s going to be great ice fishing season, especially if you prepare now. Good luck!