Ice fishing season is here! As many anglers will tell you preparation for a day on the ice is everything. So before you head out, here are some tips on how you can make the most of your time ice fishing.

  1. Take inventory

Photo courtesy of Ashley Rae.

The first thing you can do to get ready for ice fishing season is to take stock of your gear.

Organize your rods and reels, and figure out which ones are in good working condition, and which ones could use some TLC. Pick up some new line as the old stuff will have kinks in it or wear and tear from last season. Get rid of lures that are showing signs of rust, or that weren’t successful last season. Make sure to check your shelter for rips or holes and have the proper winter clothing and footwear to keep you warm, safe and dry during those cold winter days.

  1. Stock up
Rod and reel

Photo courtesy of Canadian Tire.

You need to make sure you have all of the gear you might need for the season. Your most important tool is your rod and reel, so don’t hesitate to pick up a new one. The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Rod Combo has the size, flexibility, and sensitivity you’re looking for. Buying a few extra jigs, hooks, floats and line will save you time later. The Sub Zero North Panfish Ice Fishing Kit is perfect for ice fishing for panfish, and includes jigs, floats, bobber stops and depth finders.

  1. Check your auger
Man using auger to drill ice-fishing hole, 1993.

Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Your auger is key to a successful day of ice fishing. Before you head out on the ice for the first time, make sure your auger is in good working condition. The blades on your auger can easily get dull or damaged, so make sure to sharpen it. If the blade is too damaged, you can replace it altogether. If you have a power auger, make sure to drain and replace your old oil, clean the spark plugs and fill up with a fresh tank of gas prior to initial start up.

  1. Deck out your shelter

Photo courtesy of Canadian Tire.

When it comes to your shelter, it’s all about balancing comfort with functionality. The Eskimo Fatfish 767 Pop-Up Shelter is incredibly easy to set up and take down, making it perfect for moving from one spot to another. This means you spend more time fishing! You’ll be in your shelter a lot, so make sure it has everything you need. Lights, seats, and heaters all help to make your ice fishing experience more comfortable.

  1. Review the Regulations
A nice example of a yellow perch - six vertical stripes, reddish orange pelvic and anal fins, and this one's about a foot long.

Photo courtesy of Paco Lyptic.

Make sure to brush up on your knowledge of ice fishing regulations. Always have a valid fishing license on you at all times, and watch for closures in your area, like the one on Lake Scugog in Ontario. Know how many lines you’re allowed to have per person, as well as the rules and regulations surrounding your ice hut.