By Patrick Galvan,

After roughly six months of warm temperatures, it’s time to put away your regular fishing gear and substitute ice augers and tents needed for ice fishing. However, good conditions for ice fishing aren’t as consistent as they are for regular fishing. Not every day will be cold enough to freeze a pond or lake to the point of holding your weight. In fact, you could go several days or weeks before you need your ice auger again.

Whether it’s unfavorable ice fishing conditions or the return of spring, you’ll need somewhere to store your ice fishing equipment, and the garage or attic isn’t always the best place. This is where self storage can help. By renting a small storage unit for your ice fishing gear, you can store all of your equipment in a single location, whether it’s in between fishing trips or until next winter.

Should You Clean Ice Fishing Gear Before Storage?

It’s important to clean ice fishing gear before moving it to long-term storage because it will extend the life of your equipment. “Before putting your equipment away, try to imagine the condition you started with and leave it in the same way,” says Joel Nelson, pro-staffer for sporting equipment retailers Otter Outdoors, Rapala, and Ice Force. Nelson says this means cleaning the equipment to remove any blemishes or debris.

Because this gear is used outdoors, it will inevitably become covered with debris that needs to be wiped off before storage. “After it’s been used, ice fishing gear tends to have snow and ice and other buildup on its surface,” Nelson says. “As the temperature warms up, the buildup melts and creates a moist environment for mold and mildew. To avoid this, I recommend using any kind of towel to wipe down your equipment. Leave it in the sunlight to dry it off and air it out [before putting it away.]”

“Before putting your equipment away, try to imagine the condition you started with and leave it in the same way.”

Joel Nelson, pro-staffer for Otter Outdoors, Rapala, and Ice Force

Remember to clean your gutting equipment and any boots or clothing you’re storing as well. “Anything that has mud on it or was used to transport fish should be cleaned so as to not hold an odor or rust metal parts,” says John Kushniroff, manager of Prime Self Storage in Henderson, Colo.

Be sure to also wipe down and dry off your shelters to prevent mold growth. Mold and mildew can lead to fabric deterioration and odors. If mold spores develop inside the storage unit, they’ll spread on all available surfaces, which can damage your ice fishing equipment. Since self storage allows you to regularly access your items in storage, you’ll be able to check for and stop mold and mildew growth before it spreads.

What Type of Maintenance Does Ice Fishing Equipment Need?

Self storage allows you regular access to your ice fishing gear to perform necessary maintenance. An ice auger is undoubtedly one of the most important tools used in ice fishing. Without it, you cannot drill holes through thick ice. Some ice augers are non-mechanical and operated by hand, but Nelson says the majority used today are gas-powered and therefore require special maintenance.

“The worst thing that kills them is non-use,” Nelson says. Not running their motors could have an adverse effect on their internal mechanisms. To prolong their lifespans and conditions, Nelson recommends either charging the auger batteries every 1-3 months or running the motor after every 1-2 months of inactivity.

“The worst thing that kills [gas-powered ice augers] is non-use.”

Joel Nelson, pro-staffer for Otter Outdoors, Rapala, and Ice Force

“I recommend adding gasoline with stabilizer in the fuel tank and running the motor to stabilize it into the carburetor,” he says. “You want to keep the carburetor parts wet. Afterward, you’ll want to drain the gas tank to keep the parts from breaking down due to being soaked with gasoline.”

Something else you should closely monitor is the condition of your auger blades. “Make sure there are no dings or rollovers,” Nelson says. “If they need replacing, [before you go ice fishing] is a good time to do it. It wouldn’t be a safety hazard, but over the course of the year, the blades get done in by rocks and sediment. Sometimes, there’s sand in the ice when you drill through it, and this can cause damage over time.”

Are There Any Concerns with Ice Fishing Gear Storage?

Beyond cleaning and maintenance, there are other things you should keep in mind when storing ice fishing gear. For one, Nelson says rodents are a serious threat to tent fabric. If your shelter becomes riddled with gaps, it will no longer be able to protect you from the wind and snow while you’re out fishing.

“Some people recommend dryer sheets,” says Nelson. “[Rodents] don’t like the smell.” If you use dryer sheets in your storage unit to ward off pests, be sure to replace them every few weeks.

“I would hang any material like bags, nets, or waders so they stay in the best condition for the following season.”

John Kushniroff, manager of Prime Self Storage

Nelson also recommends storing ice fishing equipment off the ground. If you trip over your fishing gear while it’s in storage, you risk expensive damage to the equipment and personal injury to yourself. “Use something three feet tall or so, like a folding table,” says Nelson. “This keeps it off the ground and out of your way.”

Kushniroff adds, “I would hang any material like bags, nets, or waders so they stay in the best condition for the following season.”

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  1. I don’t think we have the same sort of issue with storage of ice fishing gear down under, but ice fishing seems like a wonderful sport to try once in your lifetime! I would love to take a trip to somewhere where it’s cold enough to do something like this and come back and brag about the fact that I’ve tried it!


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