Ice Fishing Preparation

Ice Fishing Preparation

Ice fishing is just around the corner! The initial weeks of the season deliver outstanding action and winter comes fast in the north. Here’s a rundown of gear preparation and other tasks to do now so you’re ready for the hard-water season.


Tidy And Restock Tackle

Organize lures, jigs and terminal tackle. Cut off any line knots left on baits. Replace rusted or bent hooks. Stock-up on missing or items in limited supply (e.g., snap swivels, baits bit-off by pike, specific colours of soft-plastics).


Organize Tools

Prepare ice fishing tools, replacing broke or lost products. Common equipment includes scissors, pliers, hemostats, jaw spreaders, rulers, ice skimmers and compact snow shovels.


Sort Out Storage

Gear needs protection when travelling to and from the ice, as well as on the hard-water. For example, a rod case will keep combos organized and secure, while our Jigging Rap Ice Jig Box and Utility Boxes are perfect for arranging tackle. Try milk crates or totes for holding extra clothing, food, heaters, propane cylinders and other gear. Secure gear in a sled with a bungee-style cargo net.


Prep Safety Gear

Ice picks, boot cleats, an ice chisel for checking ice thickness and a throw rope are safety essentials. A change of clothes and a floatation ice suit are other considerations.


Check Rods And Spool Reels

Winter is hard on gear, so check that rod blanks, handles, guides and tips are in good shape. Do the same with reels, paying attention to bail arms, frames and spools. Fill reels with fresh Sufix Advance Ice Monofilament, InvisiLine Ice fluorocarbon or Performance Ice braid. Stock-up on lure wraps for securing baits to combos.


Put Together The Shelter Or Arrange The Sled

It’s pretty common for folks to use an ice-fishing shelter and/or a sled when fishing. Inspect the condition of these items, including their travel covers and runners, cleaning, repairing or replacing, as needed.


Charge And Try Electronics

Did you fully charge your MarCum sonar battery before storing it and again once during the summer? If not, stop reading and go plug in the charger now. We’ll wait. Beyond battery care, give fish finders, underwater cameras and other electronics a close inspection for wear and tear needing repairs. Now’s the time, too, to upgrade to the ultimate in on-ice power with our Lithium Shuttle that delivers up to 40 hours of run time.


Inspect And Test Ice Drills

Ensure blades are in good shape, sharp and secure. Check that the blade cover works, repairing or replacing if necessary. From here, follow the owner’s manual for next steps, such as pre-season start-up and tune-up procedures for power drills.


Audit Outerwear

Being cold ice fishing is a drag. Inspect your ice-fishing jacket, pants, boots, gloves, mitts, hats, balaclavas, along with mid and base layers, confirming all are in good condition. Look closely for excessive wear that may hinder insulation, waterproofness and functionality. Buy new items now before supplies get low by midwinter.


Arrange Other Gear

There are likely more gear preparations to do, depending on how and where you fish. For instance, anglers who hole-hop and are frequently exposed to the elements are wise to pack some SPF lip balm, sunscreen and sunglasses for sun and wind protection. Those who hike-in or use a snow-machine to access remote lakes will have other gear needs, such as a compass, fire starter kit and emergency supplies, all of which will fit nicely in a Universal Flasher/Camera Pack. A headlamp is another recommended ice-fishing item.


Get Legal

Renew your fishing license for the new year. Also review and re-familiarize yourself with the fishing regulations (e.g., bait restrictions, slot limits, season dates and so on).


Review Your Journal

Reading over your ice-fishing journal from last year is another way to prepare for the upcoming season. There may be certain lures or equipment that proved essential. Add these to your shopping list. Notes may also reveal a tip to try a new lake. Now’s the time to do the research to learn about what fish are in the waterbody, using a tool like Ontario’s Fish ON-Line (, or searching online message boards, social media groups and outfitter websites.


Scout Spots In Fall From The Boat

Scouting spots in the fall from a boat is another pre-ice task. Find a school of walleye on a deep hump in late autumn and those fish will likely be there once safe ice arrives. This also applies to deep vegetation holding panfish, as well as other productive late fall areas for other species. Save productive spots as GPS waypoints, loading them into a sonar/GPS combo or a handheld GPS unit for on-ice navigation.


Complete the above tasks and you’ll be prepared for the start of the hard-water. From all of us at Rapala Canada, we wish you a safe and action-filled ice fishing season!