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Make the most of your transition time

Though there's still time to get out on the ice to catch panfish and perch like this beauty, but it won't be long until the ice is too thin too walk upon.

It won't be long and one of the most painful times of year for an angler arrives.

I'm not talking about the day taxes are due, or buying an updated fishing license to be legal after April 1. Instead, I'm referring to the dreaded transition season.

Yes, it takes place twice a year, once when the lakes thaw in the spring and again as they begin to slowly solidify in the fall. And it's typically difficult to find a way to successfully and more importantly, safely, fish.

So what should a dedicated angler like you do during this period of inactivity? Try these suggestions;

n Prepare your boat for open water. Yank your watercraft out of storage and do your spring cleaning and tuning. If you own a four-stroke engine, get an oil change. Closely examine your trailer tires and ensure they're inflated to the proper pressure.

n Charge up your batteries and check all the electrical components for function. If an unwelcomed critter such as a mouse has chewed your wiring repair it. Exposed wire could cause a fire or explosion and a mouse can rapidly damage your investment. Next year, put dryer sheets in the storage compartments to thwart rodents. It's effective and smells much more pleasant than mothballs.

n Work on your "list." Husband or wife, male or female, we all have a perpetual list of housekeeping or maintenance items that need attention. Clean the bugs out of your home's light fixtures. Repair the leaking faucet or toilet. Paint the walls that need it.

By doing so, you'll free up your time for those perfect afternoons of angling, without worry of what you really should be doing instead.

n Clean up and store your ice fishing gear. Making sure your tackle, portable fish house, auger and winter wear is put away properly will ensure an easy start to the ice season next winter.

n Drain the fuel from your auger unless you have one of the new Jiffy Pro 4 drills that run on propane, in which case you'll simply need to store it in an upright or cylinder up position so the oil doesn't ooze from the four-stroke engine.

n Another important procedure is charging your portable sonar flasher. Neglecting this will shorten your batteries life. Some people will actually leave the flasher battery plugged in all summer, so long as the charger has a built-in shut-off feature.

n Next, clean out your five-gallon buckets. Start by thawing out the frozen chunk of ice and minnows that you've left beside the garage. Then pour in some water, a little bleach and after sitting overnight, your bucket will be fresh as a spring evening.

n Finally, put some dryer sheets in your portable or stationary fish house. Again, it will deter mice from establishing residence in your shelter.

Reconnect. Stop in to visit your circle of friends for coffee, call or write those individuals who you haven't talked to in a while. And while doing so, invite them to go fishing once the ice melts!