With a little care and preventive maintenance, your high-tech equipment will last many seasons

Ice-fishing season has come to an end and you're waiting for the open-water fun to begin. What to do? Now's the time to properly pack away your specialized hardwater fishing gear. With a little care and preventive maintenance, your high-tech equipment will last many seasons-and help ensure you land that lunker next winter.

1. Power augers

Power augers should be drained of gas before storage, as the mixed fuel can thicken over time and gum up the fuel lines. Empty the gas tank and let the engine run until the lines are clear. If you're storing gas in the auger, however, make sure to add fuel conditioner to the tank. Next, sharpen or replace dull cutting blades, and apply WD-40 or light oil to prevent rusting. Make sure to put covers or guards on the blades before storage. Finally, check the spark plug and replace it if necessary; a tune-up may also be in order.

2. Portable huts

Portable canvas or vinyl huts can smell pretty fishy by the end of the season, and the buildup of grime can actually break down the material. Wash your huts with warm, soapy water, then rinse and completely air-dry before packing them away in breathable storage bags. Hang the bags or place them on blocks so air can circulate around them, and make sure they're not in direct sunlight.

3. Rods and reels

High-tech rods should be cleaned with soapy water and checked for possible problems. Running strands of cotton batten through the eyelets will help detect nicks or cuts that can lead to damaged line and lost fish. Replace any defective eyelets or try to smooth over the nicks with nail polish lacquer. Cork handles can be reconditioned with a little sandpapering. Reels also need annual maintenance, and this is a good time to clean and oil them to the manufacturers' specifications. Refer to the manual that came with your reel, or drop it off at a local tackle shop for a checkup and any necessary repairs.

4. Fishing line

Fishing line can be the weakest link between an angler and a fish. Monofilament, for example, will break down from direct sunlight or simply become brittle with age. Strip off your line after every season to ensure you have the best chance of landing fish the next winter. That way, you'll be sure to spool on fresh line before you once again head out to your favourite lake. If you're storing line, keep it in your fridge to help it stay fresh.

5. Terminal tackle

Lures, jigs and hooks are often scattered between boxes and ice-fishing pails by the end of the season. Sort out your favourite fish catchers, and make sure they're dry and stored properly. This is a good time to break out a file and touch up those hooks until they're sticky sharp. Also apply rust-prevention spray, or place moisture-absorbing strips in your tacklebox, to ensure the hooks look like new and remain sharp-ready to do battle again next winter.