Open Water ice Fishing

There’s still some time to get your gear prepped for winter, but don’t overlook a few important aspects.

I do love ice fishing, it’s just that I don’t want to do it before thanksgiving. This recent arctic blast caught many people, including myself, with their pants down. Nearly single-digit temps and not as much of the house and equipment winterized as I would like.

Next week temps will supposedly be in the mid-40s, but none of us want to gamble our expensive equipment on a weatherman’s forecast.

One thing that I have done through the years, since I like to keep the boat going as long as possible, is keep several gallons of RV antifreeze on hand at all times. You can buy it on sale for just a couple dollars per gallon and it has no real shelf life.

Simply pouring some down your livewell and baitwells with them set to recirculate can save pumps and lines. Do it slowly, as you only need just enough for it to fill the lines and circulate through. In the case of my Ranger 621, a gallon does both the livewell and baitwell. If you have a little extra I like to pour it in the bilge area to help keep any of the areas that tend to hold water less likely to freeze and do damage.

This can also be a good to time to check for water in your gear case and line around the prop. Also make sure to trim your engine down and drain all of the water out after each trip this time of year. Putting a fuel stabilizer in each tank is also a wise move.

Cold water doesn’t mean you have to completely winterize your boat, but a few minutes and a couple dollars can save you a lot of money and big headaches.

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Capt. Ross Robertson

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