Minnesota is slipping further and further out of the grasp of old man winter.
I’ve spent most of today closing the chapter on my 2015-2016 ice fishing season by finally giving attention to the dirty, damaged, and neglected ice fishing equipment that has been riding in the back of my truck all winter.
For those like me who are always interested in reading about how others maintain their equipment for the off-season, I thought I would make a post outlining a few of the post-season rituals that I like to go through after the ice goes out in Spring.
First, I always add the recommended amount of fuel stabilizer in my auger’s gas tank and then proceed to run the auger for 5-10 minutes. This step is a win-win: not only does it ensure that the fuel treatment finds its way throughout the engine and carburetor, but it lets me have one final whiff of 2-stroke engine exhaust before I retire it for the summer.
After running the engine for a bit, I drain the excess fuel into a one gallon gas can to store for the summer. While some prefer not to do this step, and prefer to properly dispose of the gas instead of keeping around, I find that as long as the fuel is treated properly and stored in a dark garage it stays good enough to use the next year. At this point I also remove and wash the air filter with warm, soapy water. The carburetor is then cleaned out and inspected. A once-over of the engine’s external plastic housing with wet, soapy rag removes any oil build-up or exhaust residue.
I also like to oil the auger blades to prevent rusting, remove the shaft from the engine, and store them in the garage, away from summer’s powerful sun.
After the auger is put away, I then move on to my portable ice house. For me at least, the first order of business is to soak up all the water and spilled gas that always seems to collect at the bottom of the sled. Then I normally try to grease up the support poles, always looking for areas where a pole may be bent or close to breaking. To keep mice and other rodents from chewing holes in the canvas tarp, and I cover the house well before storing it away in the garage.
Lastly, fishing poles, slush scoops, bait buckets, and scoop shovels find their way to their respective haunts to hibernate until next December.
It’s a bittersweet day. On one hand, the warm, spring-like temperatures sweeping their way through Minnesota makes me excited for what is to come. On the other hand, ice fishing is one of my favorite outdoor pastimes and I hate to see it go by as quickly as it always seems to.
I’ll get over it, though. Large numbers of waterfowl – especially Canada geese and mallards, continue to move through the state at a very steady space. I can hear flocks of geese passing over the house heading towards the large wetland southeast of town as I write this post from my parent’s living room. Robins and red-wing blackbirds are seemingly everywhere, calling from the tree branches. The grass is starting to green up everywhere I look, and I can’t imagine it will be long before the Oak trees start producing their green leaves.
The cold harshness of Minnesota’s winters, while enjoyable, always lead to a magical time of life and rebirth – Spring.