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Time to Dust Off Your Ice Tackle

by Marianne Conrad

While on my way to work this morning, I caught a glimpse of a small pond I have frequented over the years. Fishing the pond both during the summer and winter months has brought me endless hours of entertainment and it was my hope that I would be spending time jigging through the ice some time soon. I noticed on this morning that the pond was finally developing first ice of the season and even though the ice cover is not quite firm enough to support my weight, it did begin me thinking about readying my ice fishing tackle so all would be ready as the ice hardens.

First to be considered are my tip-ups. I will begin by closely examining all  the mechanical parts like spools, springs, wing nut, etc...I will clean up,  repair or replace anything that is not functioning smoothly. Next I will check the flag steel for rust or kinks and as for the flags, I will make note of any that will also need replacing.   It is at this point that I will begin to develop a shopping list and include the number of tip-ups I will need to purchase as some of my older traps will be beyond refurbishment of any sort.

Next I will check the condition of the dacron line I use to fill my tip-up   spools. As it is not necessary to change the line every season, some of my spools will contain line that may be several seasons old. These will definitely need to be changed as over time the materials that make up the line will begin to breakdown and compromise the strength and elasticity needed for very cold water conditions. Here too, I add a couple of  spools of 18 pound test dacron line on my growing shopping list.  

After having attended to my tip-ups I will now turn my attention to my ice  auger. Even though my 8 inch knuckle buster is only a few years old, I will still take this time to examine the blades for any sign of rust, nicks or dull spots and I will  freshen them with a hone if necessary. If by chance you have an auger that is a little 'wear worn' you may want to consider having the blades sharpened by a professional. Or if they are beyond the point of no return you can purchase a set of new blades from most area tackle   shops.

After filling the spools on my jigging rods and greasing the gears of my  reels, last but not least, I will go through the remaining contents of my ice-fishing tackle box. As usual, my sounders are in short supply and I will also need to replenish the snelled hooks in sizes 8, 6 and 4 as well as restocking split shot sinkers and ball bearing swivels in various sizes. As for jigging lures I can always use more Swedish Pimples and I will  purchase an number of them in size 3 and 4 and the colors I prefer are solid gold or silver and for a decorative touch I will also need those adorned with red or chartreuse prism tape.  This year I think I will also load up on painted jig heads in a 1/32 and 1/16 ounce size to which I will rig a few 2 inch Salty Lunker Kalin’s grubs. I have never tried this lure presentation through the ice, but this year I plan to give these grubs a try.  After all, the fish in this particular pond happen to love these lures and just gobble them up during the open water season so why not jig them through the ice?  Since I fish in New Hampshire I will obviously keep in mind the ban on small lead jigs and weights after january 1, 2000 and will use lead substitutes as necessary.

According to the weatherman, this weeks daytime temperatures will remain in the twenties and the winds will remain calm. Perfect conditions for growing ice so I suspect it won’t be long until my little pond firms up. Now that my gear has been properly attended to, I will be ready when it comes time once again to walk on water.

Article Sponsored by:

"New Hampshire Outdoors" Radio Show

Hosts - Marianne Conrad and Jim Riccardi

  • Live on Saturdays from 8am to 9am WSMN AM 1590 in Nashua
  • Rebroadcast on Friday evenings from 6-7pm WKXL AM 1420 and FM 102.5


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