By Nick Simonson
At the halfway point of the deer firearms season and snow settling in across much of the state those sportsmen that have punched their tag and retired their rifle for the year are looking forward to a return to the ice. Getting the two primary pieces of must-have gear ready for the hardwater season is key to being set for a winter filled with success and fast fishing. Making sure that augers are running smoothly before punching that first hole and sonars are ready to show what’s below will have that first walleye topside in no time. What follows are some tips in these quickly-fading preseason days to get both going.
Test running an auger now will make certain that things are in good working order. Running a cleaner and stabilizer like SeaFoam through with that first tank of gas will help clean the crud out from the engine and make it purr in preparation for the season. Make sure that housing and covers are in good shape and connected to the auger head with the proper screws and nothing is cracked or broken. Check air filters and spark plugs too if things seem to be running slow. Line up fuel sources now, including creating the proper gas-and-oil mix, or grab a few extra canisters of propane depending on the model. Additional batteries for electric augers are also a good investment ahead of the season.
Inspect the auger shaft to make sure it’s firmly connected to the powerhead and doesn’t wiggle or wobble in a way that might prevent straight and effective drilling. Finally, look over the blades and if they appear dull, chipped or rusted, replace them. For many augers, a new set of blades may be necessary each season if hundreds of holes were punched in the prior winter, so invest in a new set and feel the difference on the ice and avoid the excess shoulder workout.
Beyond just staring at the stationary colors on the wheel of many models of on-ice sonar to recreate that feeling of fishing in a winter wonderland, turning units on and checking battery terminals and power and cable connections is a good thing to knock off a pre-season preparation list. If the battery was draining quickly last season, consider grabbing a new one and installing it in the unit. A spare power source is a good idea as well, especially for those multiple-day trips on big waters where overnighting on the ice may require more power.
Check to see that sonar pucks are sending signals by using a flat surface like a countertop or a floor which slightly reflects the signal and delivers a clicking sound. Confirm cable holders, plastic cases and covers are not cracked and that the display can be easily read from both a standing and sitting position. If necessary, clean storage dust from the display and any corrosion from the battery terminals and power connections to assure flawless deployment whenever that first trip on the ice comes to be.
While safe ice may still be a few weeks off, having these two important pieces of modern hardwater angling technology at the ready will allow more time to get the small things set for the season.
Featured Photo: Check now to make certain that augers are running smoothly, and invest in a new set of blades for quick-cut holes all season long. Simonson Photo