As fun as regular fishing might be, i, and many of my friends, can’t wait for warm season to pass and winter to kick in, so that we can enjoy ice fishing on our favorite lakes. People often don’t realize how many of us are waiting for ice to get thick enough, so that we can set up our ice fishing shelters on those lakes and get to fishing. The optimal thickness of ice layer is debated – some people think that ice four inches thick is more than enough, while others recommend making sure that the ice you’re standing on is at least 6 inches thick. To be honest, i think the difference is irrelevant – some people will choose the safer path, while others convenient one. Thickness of ice, while important, is only one of many concerns that ice fishing enthusiasts must address before they go on fishing trip. I decided to write this post to address most of those concerns related with ice fishing.
   If you’ve been ice fishing for at least one year, your first order of things should be checking out the condition of your equipment. Certain parts of your gear might have gotten rusty or even worse – dysfunctional. Ice fishing is sort of sport that doesn’t allow learning as you go, your gear must be in excellent shape before you depart for the like. So that’s why i always thoroughly check every part of my ice fishing gear – shelters, clothing, rods and all the other ones. Even with that, i sometimes make minor mistakes, so that should be good indicator of how important preparation process really is. Some stuff might still be functional, but so thoroughly used that it’s a good idea to replace them. Minor detail like zipper or cord might be missing or damaged on your ice fishing shelter. Clothing might have torn and have hole in them, or any of such similar problems. Possibilities are endless. By starting preparation in late september-early october, you’ll have plenty of time to replace everything that’s missing or malfunctioning.
When it comes to clothes, zippers tend to be especially tricky. They may seem to work at first glance, but they’ll get stuck when you need them the most. So i always make sure to check zippers especially carefully to avoid any confusion. Good news is that zippers aren’t that hard to replace. I mostly buy Frabill clothes and i can say, with full confidence, that their zippers rarely stop working and if they do, are easy to replace.  I’ve had 3 different pairs of ice fishing boots over my decade-long ice fishing career, all of them had zipper problems. That’s why i always tell people to learn how to choose best ice fishing boots. Reading buying guide like this one would be a good start.
 Hand augers are rather simple to maintain. Except for rusting, which is unlikely with most stainless steel hand augers, they aren’t under any danger. Power augers, on the other hand, especially the gas-powered ones, are rather fragile on that front. There are spark plugs to look out for, also many other minor details. Also, make sure to have plenty of gas, to make sure you never run out of it when you need it most – on the lake. It’s always good idea to try turning on gas powered augers at least few times to make sure it works. Just like with warm clothes, you don’t want to take chances with your auger. It must work.

   It’s also a good practice to set up your portable ice shelter to try it out in practice. Set it up somewhere in your vicinity to make sure everything’s running smoothly. My frabill shelter is rather small and sturdy, and even i had to had my zippers fixed once. People with larger shelters will have more pressing things to take care of, obviously.
 These are the main components of my ice fishing gear. Of course, there are many other tools like heaters to take care of, but i can’t talk about everything in just one post. So i’ll finish with this now, and save the rest of the ice fishing gear for later.