Fall fishing can be a rewarding experience, but there are thousands of anglers waiting on the edge of their boat seats for their favorite lake to freeze over. That’s when lakes throughout the country will become villages of ice shelters and anglers huddled over holes in the ice.

With ice fishing season right around the corner, now is the perfect time to prepare if you’re thinking of heading out to the lake this winter, especially if you’re new to the sport. Here are 4 tips to help you prepare for the upcoming ice fishing season like a pro.

Take Stock of Your Gear

To start prepping for ice season, it would be smart to organize your rods and reels in order to figure out which ones are in good condition and which ones need to be tuned or thrown out altogether. Take a good look at your line, too, to check for any wear and tear that may indicate it’s time to replace it. Toss out any jigs or spoons that are rusted and make sure to check your shelter for rips or holes if you have one. If you don’t have warm clothing that can handle the cold, then it’s in your best interest to pick some up and don’t skimp; trust me.

Take Care of Your Auger

The key to a rewarding day on the ice is a reliable auger. Before you even head out to the ice, make sure your auger is working, especially if it’s gas or electric. Furthermore, your auger’s blades can dull or chip easily over the course of an ice season, so make they’re sharp. They might even need to be replaced altogether, which isn’t expensive. With power augers, you might need to change the oil, clean the spark plugs and fill up the gas tank before starting it up this season.

Home Away From Home

Your ice shelter will be your second home this winter, so it’ll pay make sure it’s comfortable and reliable in harsh winter conditions. They’ve come a long way from wooden shanties, too; shelters these days set up and tear down quickly and feature weather-proof materials. Some, like the Clam Legend XL, come attached to sleds, making them and your gear easily transportable across the ice. Bonus Tip: Make sure to pick up lights and heaters to help make your time on the ice more comfortable.

Don’t Break the Rules

Fines and having your gear confiscated are no fun, so make sure to familiarize yourself with ice fishing regulations for your area. Check how many lines you’re allowed to have in the ice per person, as well as the rules regarding your ice shelter and any use of propane you’re planning. Of course, make sure you always have a valid fishing license on you at all times and keep an eye on any lake closures due to thin ice.

Photo credit: Flickr