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Prepare now for ice fishing later this winter

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We are getting close to what I refer to as "tweener" time. This is the time of significant cool down, the end of open water fishing, and we have no safe ice to venture out onto yet.

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I am writing this Thursday, Nov. 19. My prediction is that most of our area lakes will be skimmed over with ice by Wednesday the 24th. Depending on weather, usually it is several days to a week after that skim before ice is safe.

The Minnesota DNR recommends 4-inches of clear ice before ice fishing on foot, 5 to 6-inches for snowmobile or ATV, 8 to 12-inches for cars or small trucks, and 15-inches or more for full size trucks.

Some years we are fishing on ice by Thanksgiving, and some years we have open water into December.

We always have a "tweener" time before ice is safe. This is a good time to put away hunting and summer fishing gear, and start organizing your winter fishing equipment. You will want to re-spool your ice fishing rods. Organize tackle boxes. Start your ice auger and make sure it is starting and running properly. Most of the oil mixes for augers come with a fuel stabilizer. If starting your auger is difficult or is not running smooth, change to a fresh oil/gas mix and add a tablespoon of sea foam to your tank. If you still have difficulty you may want to try a carburetor cleaner. If that doesn't solve your problem take it to a small engine repair shop or a quality bait and tackle store to resolve your problem before the ice fishing season really gets underway. Charge your batteries for your underwater camera, and your flashers. Test your heaters to make sure they are in working order. This is also a good time to fill your propane tanks.

For people with portable houses, you may want to open them up and make sure everything is good (and air them out). I don't know what it is, but it always seems like gremlins make the rounds, and things that were put away in good condition will have broken parts, tears, holes, or missing pieces. Make your list, so when it is time for your first outing you aren't scrambling to locate everything.

For permanent fish houses, you may want to fire up the furnace, test lights, trailer lights, and make repairs before it is time to haul the house. Make sure tires and trailers are in good shape before heading down the road.

This is a good time to prepare as the weather is more forgiving than trying to do this work when it is 10 degrees below 0 and the wind is blowing 20mph out of the northwest.

If you remember last year, we turned from skimming over to below zero for a straight week starting Thanksgiving Day. Have a safe and happy holiday.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)

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