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It's not too early to get ready for ice fishing

Ice-fishing season is still a little way off for most Midwest ice-anglers, but it's not too early to start thinking about the upcoming ice season. You want to think about your ice gear before you need it, not when you need it. When the ice gets safe for foot travel, you want to be out there fishing, not at home fixing and organizing your gear.

First of all, if you have a shelter, make sure it's ready to go. Some folks have portable units, others prefer a more permanent shelter. I'm not very familiar with the permanent houses, as most of my fishing is done from a portable. Friends who have the permanent houses tell me it's important to make sure the gas for heat and the stove is in good working condition. They also say that it's a good idea to check the windows. Wind coming through a broken wind offsets the benefits of having a heated house.

Portable shelters need to be set up and aired out. This is when you should check to make sure all the parts are where you thought you left them at the end of the last ice-fishing season. Also make sure you didn't leave anything in the shelter that would attract mice. It works well to hose the unit out just to freshen it up.

If you decide that now would be a good time to look for a new shelter, be sure to check out the new Frabill R2-Tec shelters. These are the warmest, most comfortable units to fish from that you'll find.

Next make sure your auger has sharp blades and will start. It's really disappointing to get on the ice and find out your auger won't put a hole in it.

Make sure the battery is charged on your depth-finder and underwater camera if you have one. Many ice-fishing anglers have come to rely very heavily on their sonar units for ice-fishing success. Hummingbird has created a new line of sonar units for ice-fishing that have several features that will help you put more fish on the ice.

Also be sure to check out the lures that have been developed. Brian Brosdahl spends more time on the ice than he does on hard ground in the winter. He has created an entire line of ice-fishing lures for Northland Tackle that are unique and will appeal to a wide variety of fish.

Be sure you've got fresh line on your reel. Just spool about twenty yards of new line onto the existing line on your ice-fishing reel. Berkley has several lines just for ice-fishing, so you can use the line that best fits your ice-fishing needs. If you want no stretch, go with FireLine Micro Ice Crystal. If you want the ultimate in invisibility, look into the fluorocarbons and monofilaments that Berkley has.

As I look out the window, it seems like ice-fishing is far away, but I know how quickly the weather changes this time of year. Get ready for ice-fishing, because it will be here sooner than you think.

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