I don’t know about you all, but November snuck up on me. Most of us either become caught up in October or are too busy looking ahead to December to notice it, but it’s here, and you better believe that the ice fishing season is close on its heels. While the inexperienced are scrambling to get ready for the season, or worse; haven’t even thought about it yet, seasoned ice anglers have already been taking stock of their gear and getting ready for the ice. Today, I have a few tips to help both ends of the experience spectrum stay on top of their ice fishing preparation.

To ice fish, you need to make holes in the ice, and to do that, you need augers. Manual or powered, augers do a great job of making holes, but their blades can become dull. A great place to start your ice fishing prep is either sharpening or replacing your auger blades. Not only will this allow you to cut through the ice quickly, but it will reduce the noise your blades make, which can spook fish. Also—speaking of augers—be sure to start up your power auger beforehand if you have one, just to see if it’s in good condition.

If you count yourself as one of the ice anglers who utilizes a depth finder/sonar unit, then it’s also a good idea to make sure the battery on your device is charged and ready to go. These devices are great at helping locate fish beneath the ice, so you’ll want to make sure it’s working properly before you get out there.

Your reels will undoubtedly need to be spooled with fresh line, as well. The rigid edges of ice holes can wreak havoc on your line, leaving it frayed in numerous places. Ice fishing line is strong stuff, however, so pick some up and re-spool your reels before hitting the ice.

Lastly, if you’ve been an ice angler for some time, then it may be time to invest in a new rod or reel. Years on the ice can take a toll on your gear, so inspect your reel and don’t be afraid to drop some money on a new one, or two, or three, should the need arise.

Taking the time to inspect the gear listed above can save you some money and a headache or two this season. Also, check you gear and see if you need to replace safety items, such as life jackets, hand warmers, ice picks, and anything else you may need. It never hurts to check, or even double check, your gear before the ice fishing season arrives in full force, so cross your T’s, dot your I’s, and prepare yourself for a great winter on the ice.