Shovel, Sand Essential December Fishing Gear

By Ted Peck - December 9, 2015
Back in December 2006 anglers across the upper Midwest were able to launch boats until shortly after Christmas. Weather so far this month indicates we still have at least a couple of weeks before swapping out long rods for short ones just like we did nine years ago.

Our open water season can come sliding to a halt literally overnight. Until winter shows up in earnest fishers have a rare opportunity to follow their passion with a reasonable expectation for success.

Winterizing a watercraft isn't the ordeal it used to be. Almost all boats built in this century have self draining livewells and bilges. Some outboards like the Evinrude E-Tech can now be winterized by merely pushing a button.

Reverse engineering the winterizing process only takes 15 minutes, as does putting your baby back to sleep. If this time can't be justified better stock up on extra batteries for the TV remote.

Those folks with a biological need to feel the tug of one more walleye might consider toting some extra gear during our "bonus season". Sand, a shovel and a vehicle tow strap are several items which can make the season's last boat ride a pleasant experience instead of a nightmare.

Even the most brutish 4 x 4 truck is essentially helpless when attempting to negotiate an incline of glare ice. If the ambient temperature is below freezing experiencing this scenario is guaranteed even if yours is the only vehicle using the boat ramp that day.

A liberal sprinkling of sand mixed with rock salt in tire tracks from the water's edge to at least 15 feet up the ramp virtually assures easy egress. In a worst case scenario having a sturdy tow strap handy will help mitigate post-angling misery.

If you're launching in sub-freezing temperatures after other boats have put in keep the trailer straight and come back at a snail's pace. Gravity and glare ice have a way of combining to make the simple act of launching a boat very interesting.

Don't forget that glare ice is removed from the equation at the water's edge. Don't panic! The trailer's tires should stop your descent into the drink if you keep the trailer straight. If they don't the truck tires will.

Keeping this knowledge to yourself if your buddy volunteers to take his rig can produce a hilarious memory for all parties involved. Eventually.

Your life doesn't necessarily flash before your eyes when backing the boat results in a perceived near death experience. But you can bet a sense of humor will not rule your emotional state as laws of physics reveal themselves. Don't ask me how I know.

There is a very real possibility that any December outing can be your last trip of the season. Keeping the boat's fuel tank full and adding the appropriate amount of Sea Foam should be part of your program.

From now until Spring you might consider using a five gallon bucket instead of the livewell if you plan on taking fish home.

Once on level ground after leaving the ramp allow the outboard to hang vertically for a few minutes so water can drain. I always crank it over for just a few seconds before trailering for travel down the road.

Another decade may pass before anglers in the upper Midwest will be able to fish into December again. From a strictly walleye standpoint December has been the best month in a very memorable fishing year.

Water temperatures will remain in the low 30's until mid-March. Fish metabolism will be predictably slow. Fish accordingly.

With Christmas right around the corner, you might consider sand for that naughty angler on your list.

Lumps of coal in the stocking are passé in this age of global warming. Sand is the anthracite of the 21st century.

Author Ted Peck
Ted Peck
Cap'n Ted Peck has over 30 yrs. guiding experience, specializing in multi-species fishing on Pool 9-10 of the Mississippi from Genoa, Wi. to Prairie du Chien. Cap'n Ted is a pro staffer for Lund, Northland Tackle, MinnKota, Bill Lewis Lures, Evinrude, Uncle Josh, HT Enterprises and Custom Jigs & Spins. When not guiding Cap'n Ted communicates the outdoors experience via newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and through seminars. This work has taken him all over the midwest, Canada and beyond... but he always returns to the upper Mississippi which he considers the most diverse fishery in North America. Click here for more info on Ted's guide service. Cap'n Ted's new book Mississippi Musings with the Old Guide is a personal account of his long career as a professional fishing guide on Old Man River.