In a normal year I would be panicking that my new boat hasn’t arrived and in a mad rush to get it all rigged, instead I’m fishing over nearly two feet of ice. For those that don’t ice fish or need a little break from the weather, March is a perfect time to make sure you have yourself and gear ready when the weather breaks. For me this is an extremely important process, since many of these tasks can take enough time that you don’t want to undertake them all at once or when the fish are biting.
Checking planer board release pads - Pads can get worn or cut up and can do serious damage to your line.
Respooling reels and checking calibration - New line is a must and walking out a 100ft of line to see what the counter actually says. Details on how to do this can be found in the Walleye Trolling Book at FishUSA.com.
Check rod guides for cracks or nicks - Simply swiping a q-tip and a little observation can make sure you don’t ruin all of that new line you just spooled.
Tying rigs - Perhaps one of the most important and time consuming one of them all. Tying spinner rigs to last a whole season is key for me. They are much easier to do when watching a basketball game than during the season when fish are biting and it doesn’t get dark until 8pm.
Charging up the batteries - While in some boats you really need to pull your batteries during the winter, many small boat anglers with non wet cell batteries and on board charging systems you can leave them in. The problem is that with the extreme cold we have had many of the batteries may have been drained so low that the onboard charger cannot pick it up, requiring a “quick jump charge” from a portable battery tender. Checking now will save a lot of time, especially with boats that have multiple batteries.
Stinger hooks - I tie a majority of the stinger hooks I use and since jigging is the first thing I typically do once we have open water, I want plenty ready to go. I like to tie my own since I like to use a heavier leader line and a super high quality Gamakatsu treble hook.
General organization - Just knowing where all of your safety equipment is, if your flares are expired and where that favorite box of jigs or crankbaits is goes a long way when you are able to get out of work last minute to hit the lake.
Just a few things to consider in this often dull time of year. Remember, preparation is the key to success!
Capt. Ross Robertson