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.