This past week has no doubt been a busy one for most of the readership. You went to high school football and volleyball games, deer hunted, duck/goose hunted, pheasant hunted, got out to vote, and of course took advantage of the nice weather to get out fishing. Now that you got your deer, voted, shot some pheasants, harvested some ducks, put your boat away, and Thanksgiving isn't for a couple weeks yet (and you already shot your goose last week), you will have time to start getting your ice fishing gear organized!
It is always a good idea to at least start going through your equipment, fixing what needs fixing, re-spooling rods, organizing tackle, and making sure heaters heat and augers start while the weather is still pleasant enough to make the tasks enjoyable. It takes some of the fun out of the early ice trips when you are scrambling last minute and things are missing or don't work. I don't know what it is, but we put things away in the spring (and everything relating to your ice season worked and was organized) and something will create a problem for you that you weren't expecting. This is also a good time to make your list for expanding your collection of "can't do without" gear and equipment.
This year, like every year, new and improved clothing, equipment, and gear is available for the right price. Some of the best new ice "stuff" available now is the new line of augers being produced by all the manufactures. The transition the last couple of years has been to propane and electric augers. Four stroke models are also available now. The new generation of augers all start easy, run smooth, are extremely quiet, and no fumes!
For those that have or will have the new augers...gone are the days of praying before starting, knocking on the tank three times and spinning in a circle, lifting your little pinky as you feather the throttle with the touch of a surgeon, and all the other rituals we needed to go through to make them run right.
A few years ago, I thought I was cleaver using my 36-volt DeWalt battery operated hammer drill with a custom 7" auger bit to drill holes. In a just a matter of years that seems archaic now!
Thankfully, I have a couple of ice fishing friends with the propane units and I am hopeful a couple others will buy the cool line of battery units. It is always nice to try what's out and see what a guy likes or dislikes at your buddies expense before throwing down the $500-600 they cost. I can still get by with my old (mostly faithful) gas auger and my DeWalt. I don't really need to buy a new one but it is tempting. Maybe next year, or...maybe for Christmas! I know I will find something new and cool for fishing to spend some money on, because when you have the fever like we do, it is just what we do!
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)