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Assembling ice fishing gear for another season can be a challenge

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 10:29 a.m. CST

(MCT) — GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Getting ready for another winter of ice fishing is always a comedy of errors, and this year has been no exception.

It is better than last year, though, when I took the cover off my portable fish house and found the inside of the plastic tub that forms the base covered with mold.

I’m no scientist, but the sight of that mold reminded me I probably should have dried out the bottom of the house before storing it for the summer. Actually, I didn’t so much store the house as unceremoniously dump it from the back of my truck onto the garage floor.

There it sat — unopened and untended, damp and festering — from March until early December.

The mold wasn’t a terminal condition, and a good scrub job took care of the furry residue growing inside. The canvas came through the months of neglect relatively unscathed.

Wanting to avoid a repeat, I let the portable house dry out for several weeks last spring before putting it into storage; the strategy paid off in the form of no mold.

The portable needs a couple of minor repairs that may or may not get done, but at least it’s not a large-scale biology experiment. It’s more or less ready to hit the ice.

The challenge this year, I’ve discovered, is rounding up my fishing gear. After all these years, I still haven’t learned to store everything in one place.

That would be too convenient.

Instead, I’m still trying to track down a couple of spinning reels, and my hand-held GPS — with all of the coordinates to my favorite Lake of the Woods fishing holes — is nowhere to be found.

I used the GPS hunting this fall, so I know it can’t be too far away. Most likely, it’s in a backpack or pocket I haven’t checked, or perhaps under the seat of my truck.

I’ve decided the best strategy, for now, is to quit looking. Someday, when I’m not looking, the GPS will turn up where I least expect it. That’s usually the way it works.

I also remember seeing the battery charger for my Vexilar FL-18 depth finder lying around the house sometime in the past few months. The other day, when I needed it, the charger was nowhere to be found.

Finding my gas-powered ice auger won’t be a problem, but I should probably try starting it before my first big trip of the season. Hopefully, it will take less than 100 pulls to get the thing running.

Gradually, though, the transition from summer to winter is falling into place. I’ve got all of my ice fishing lures in order, the ice cleats for my boots were right on the shelf in the garage where they were supposed to be, and I’m more or less ready for my first trip of the winter to Lake of the Woods.

With or without the GPS, catching fish shouldn’t be too much of a problem based on the reports I’ve heard so far.

The battery charger will turn up eventually, as will the GPS. And I’ve got enough ice fishing reels to get me by without any undue hardship.

The only wild card at this point is the water jug I use for a minnow bucket in the winter. The jug has a lid that screws on tightly, allowing me to cross the ice by snowmobile without spilling water all over the inside of the portable. I don’t want to encourage more mold to grow, after all.

The jug is in my fish house, and I’m pretty sure I dumped out the minnows after my last trip in March. Pretty sure, but not positive …

Guess there’s only one way to find out.

If I didn’t, that moldy fish house is going to seem like a walk in the park by comparison.

Wish me luck.

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