I will not pretend to know when we are going to have fishable ice this winter. The long-range forecasts I have been following are calling for a wetter, but also warmer than average winter. I am still fishing open water and I will absolutely as long as I can. However, I know this, it is time to start thinking about getting the hard-water gear ready to go.
There are a number of auger options on the market today, more than ever. If you are in the market for a new one, shop around, compare, decide which will be best for the fishing you do. Many of you already have a power auger, let me copy and past this reminder to get them ready. This is from the Ice Force Blog:
To run true, your StrikeMaster® auger requires good fuel, good spark plugs and good blades. Ensure you’ve got all three, and you’ve got the essentials for a great season on the ice.
Don’t run old gas. Your engine will start and run better on fresh, premium, winter-grade fuel, which is usually available most places Nov. 1 through April 1.
Use a quality oil at a 40:1 ratio (3.2 oz. of oil / 1 gallon of gas). Don’t like the mess of measuring? Buy oil in pre-measured 3.2 oz. bottles, adding them per gallon of gas.
Stick strictly to the 40:1 ratio. Extra oil will make your auger harder to start and is more likely to cause issues with the carburetor and leak out of your muffler. You can use a 40:1 ratio even if your engine calls for 24:1. You’ll use less oil and your auger will run better and cleaner.
If your auger is running rough or back-firing, a faulty spark plug is the likely culprit. To prevent problems, check your plug for deposit build-up around – or on – the electrode, cracks in the insulator or other signs of wear. If you observe any of these, replace the plug.
If your auger was cutting a bit slower at the end of last season, replace your blades this year before hitting the ice. When replacing worn-out blades, consider picking up a spare set as well.
99 percent of all recoil problems are the result of pulling your rope all the way to the end. When this happens, the rope can fray and springs can fail. If you’re starting to notice significant fraying, or if your rope retracts slowly or incompletely, chances are your rope and/or recoil must be replaced. The way to avoid such damage is simple – shorter pulls on the rope.
Over time, air filters can get dirty and clog, restricting airflow to your engine. When this happens, your auger can bog down when drilling or lose power completely. If your air filter is oil- or dirt-soaked, it’s time for a replacement.
Should you encounter more-serious issues — or would rather out-source your basic maintenance — visit strikemaster.com for a list of Strikemaster Certified Repair Centers near you.
If you do not own a Strikemaster, it makes no difference, all of those maintenance and preparation tips apply to whatever power auger you are running. If you do not own a power auger, the tips about the blades are absolutely applicable to ALL augers. After running hand augers for a long, long time, I know that there is nothing worse than a dull auger blade!
If nothing else, start that auger up just to listen to her purr. I love that sound!
While you are at it. . . . I am betting you have a bunch of ice-fishing rods that need new line. Now would be a great time to do that.
Get the tackle out, check your inventory, clean things up, change out hooks if needed, decide what you need to fill the gaps in your tackle box, stock up. Most of the tackle stores have their full selection of ice gear on the shelves by now.
Wait for it, it’s coming, make sure you are ready!