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Goodbye fall, hello winter

November 24, 2012
By TODD REED , Times-Republican

Where did fall go? Did we ever really get fall weather? Either way, as you picked up your paper today, you could feel that winter is finally here. Yes, I said finally! Fall is that transition time of the year for anglers. Each angler is carefully watching the weather, trying to squeeze in one last open-water trip of the season. I too, fall into this category, but I am ready for winter and ready for the next angling challenge ... ice fishing.

I love my boat, the local lakes, and the Upper Mississippi River this time of year, but I can't wait to put things away for a long cold winter. Perhaps it is because last winter was so short, and ice fishing was always a hit or miss with the warmer than normal winter temperatures. No matter what, my mind is set for some cold weather, and I hope it gets here sooner, rather than later.

I know for some anglers, who don't ice fish, that the last time out is rather sad, because most likely it will be well into March before anglers get those rods and reels back out after a long winter. I am avid open-water angler, but to be honest, I can't remember the last spring that I wanted the ice to melt and the weather to warm up. There is just something about ice fishing that scratches me in all the right ways.

Article Photos

Whether we like it or not, Mother Nature is about to turn the switch to winter and ice fishing will be the talk of area anglers. Ice fishing can provide awesome panfishing at area lakes (like last year’s bluegill catch above). Take the time now to store your summer fishing gear properly so next spring you will be ready for more open water fishing.  

Before I can say goodbye to the open water, there are many things anglers must do to protect their fishing equipment. Whether you have one rod and reel, or a dozen, fish from shore, or in a boat, there is plenty of things to do in the next week before winter sets in. The following items are some things that need special attention now, so that when the spring weather comes back around, your fishing gear will be ready for your long awaited first fishing trip.

Summer Fishing Gear

It may be sad to say, but the open water fishing is all but over. A big mistake many anglers make every fall and winter is when they don't properly store their fishing gear from the summer/fall season. It is best to bring all your tackle, rods and reels inside your house during the winter months. Here are a few reasons why. The first thing that can happen during the winter is rust. As the air cools and warms up, condensation can get into your tackle boxes and rust your hooks. A rusty hook is simply no good and will need to be replaced in the spring. This will not be the surprise you will want to see next March when it is time to get your summer fishing gear out. Another reason to bring everything inside is because of the reels' lubrication. Reels are finely tuned pieces of equipment that require lubrication to work properly. Some lubrication will loose its composition when it is left in the colder elements, again making your reels not function properly in the spring. Lastly, your rods will be much happier indoors too. Most rods have ceramic guides on them, and you probably guessed it, those ceramic pieces will not do well in the winter freezing temperatures. If the rods are accidentally bumped during the winter months while under extreme cold, they are more likely to break. A repair to rods in the spring is not what you will want to do. Some of these lessons I have learned the hard way, so whether no matter how many rods and reels you have, find a place in your home for them, and don't forget to bring your tackle box indoors.

Boat Motors

Your boat motor needs attention each fall due to the lack of action it will get during December, January, February and March. Four months is a long time for engine parts to sit still. All boat motors, whether they are 6 horsepower engines or 250 horsepower engines need the same treatment this time of year. Greasing, new lower unit oil, impeller inspection, and gas treatment are among the most popular things done to boat engines this time of year. It is best to look at your owner's manual for the proper techniques and specific directions, or call a local marina for service. It may be the best $40-$90 you spend on your boat each year. Also, if your boat is equipped with batteries, either keep them charged up during the winter months or bring them inside to elude the freezing temperatures.

Those are some basic things to do now, to prepare your gear for spring-time tune-ups.

I feel deep down, that it wouldn't be right not to mention something about ice fishing this week. You know, typically the first weekend in December is ice fishing time in Central Iowa. I am not sure we will be "walking on water" the first weekend this year, but I can always hope for it!

If you are an "ice head", then it is time or past time to get those things ready. Ice fishing is a great winter activity for all to enjoy. I will cover ice fishing more in-depth in the weeks to come, however, if you own an ice auger, ice house, and Vexilar, you better get things ready now, as first ice may sneak up on us.


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