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Clean up now for a more pleasant start to next ice season

Ice fishing will be over in Minnesota in the next week or two. For many ice fisherman, this ice season is already done. Lake of the Woods is home to the last of the diehard ice anglers and that ice season will be done on April 14. Some anglers in our area will still have a week or slightly longer to finish up there ice season on local lakes chasing pan fish or tullibees. It is time to start thinking about stowing and storing ice fishing gear and equipment.

For those that have permanent fish houses or shelters, make sure you clean out the house. Some use these houses as storage buildings or summer campers when not in use during the hard water season. Nothing can diminish the comfort of using your shelter in the off- ice season like the smells that can occur from not getting cleaned. Clean out compartments, and wipe down tables and shelves with a disinfectant cleaner. Sweep and mop up the floor with a cleaner. Fish slime and bait (or other) spills smells can get hard to remove if left to linger, especially as warmer temperatures and the sun can work on the closed up building.

For those with portables, it is always a good idea to set your portable up when it is nice and the sun is shining to air out and dry out before storing away for the summer. You will want to clean out garbage (empty propane containers, bait bags, etc.) and wipe down the inside with disinfectant so you have no surprises late next fall.

If you organize all your gear it can be stored inside your portable or permanent so everything is organized and available for next season. It doesn’t hurt to put a couple dryer sheets in before covering. It will help with maintaining a fresher scent and will help keep mice out of your stuff.

Augers are a significant piece of ice angling equipment. You want to make sure they continue to run and perform well for you so take proper care for storing them as well. Gas augers should have the gas emptied so you can start them with fresh gas next year. Even though most of the two strokes that are mixed with the units recommended oils have a fuel stabilizer in them, why risk the bad gas syndrome next year? Empty them out and burn up the left over gas in your lawn mower or chainsaw. The four stroke units run straight gas and you can always use that in your lawnmower or car for that matter. Once you have emptied the tank, start and run out what is left in the gas line.

For those with the propane augers, remove the tank and if the auger is laid down make sure propane tank holder side is up.

For those that have the electric augers, make sure they are fully charged before stowing away (it wouldn’t hurt to charge them up a couple times over the summer to make sure they stay fully charged).

It sure doesn’t hurt if you have time and patience to wipe down rods and reels to get slime, scales, and gunk off them. Cleaning and oiling your ice reels will make you a happy angler for the start of the next ice angling season. Putting away and organizing your ice tackle now also makes life easier than trying to do that when it is cold at the start of next season.

Rinse out fish hauling/holding buckets and bait buckets before storing them with the other equipment you have already cleaned out. If you use them for your summer angling, then they are also all ready to go for you with no stinky surprises.

How do I know this “clean up your gear now” stuff? I have been young and dumb. OK, I have been old and dumb too! My little bit of laziness in the past has translated into more work cleaning up later. I have become wise enough (and still adhering to my laziness) enough to know that a little effort now saves me a lot of effort and inconvenience later. C’mon open water season!

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