How To

Ice Team Tips: Getting Gear Ready for the Season

Ice Team Pro Bernie Keefe has a set routine he goes through every October to get his gear ready for ice fishing season.

Ice Team Pro Bernie Keefe has a set routine he goes through every October to get his gear ready for ice fishing season.

As ice fishing season approaches it’s very easy to get complacent about getting gear ready. I have a routine I work through every October. I pick a nice warm day and drag out all my shelters, sleds, and huts. After I put them all up I check for rips and tears, then I look at all the nuts and bolts. I replace the broken ones and tighten the loose ones. After a thorough cleaning, I let them dry and put them to the side.

After that I get my Vexilars out and wipe them down and check the charge. Next I dig out my Mr. Heaters, inspect for loose or worn parts (I always keep a couple extra thermocouples around), light them up, let them cool, and put them in my sled.

My rods are next. I wipe them down and get a Q-tip to run inside the eyes. If I see cotton in the eye, I will replace that eye.

My wife absolutely loves the fact that I bring my jig boxes in the house for every evening football and hockey game. That is a perfect time to organize, inventory, and inspect all my jigs and jig heads.

Since I am still using my reels, I will be able to put new line on them as well as clean and lube them a few days before I start ice fishing.

I start and run my snowmobiles for about five minutes each month all summer, so I know they’ll function. However, a simple tune-up and grease job will help them make it through another winter with no problems.

I pick evenings to start digging out my ice fishing clothes. Since I have been fishing for part of the fall I know my “blue suit” is in good shape as well as my hat, wool socks, gloves, and Merino wool long underwear, but I still get out and organize all my “extra” clothes. Don’t forget to waterproof the leathers on your boots.

I go fishing every chance I get in the fall,  and my ice fishing GPS is always with me. I spend lots of time marking weed lines, rock piles, humps, or any other “sweet spot.” Every day that I take my Crestliner fishing, finding a new spot is always a goal. Some days it’s as easy as where I found fish very late in the fall, but other times it’s looking very hard for that small rock pile on the large flat.

As the season gets nearer and I am getting my gear ready, the ice fishing fever burns hard. During the evenings on my computer at home I spend a lot of time combing through all the ice fishing articles I can find. Check out some of them at

Talk more with Bernie at

Image courtesy Ice Team/Bernie Keefe

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