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How to Make a Hole for Ice Fishing
One of the first things you will learn when you start ice fishing is that it is not the same as fishing in the summer. Besides the fact that water is frozen there are a few other important factors you should be aware of. The type of fish targeted and equipment used are crucial things to consider, and so is the hole you drill in the ice. While it may seem like a straightforward process, there are a few tricks I learned that can make your work more efficient.
Know the structure of the lake
Because greater effort is required to move around with the fish when ice fishing, knowing how the lake is structured and shaped can help get a better sense of where the fish are. Look for a map that details the lake’s structures. Some of the things to watch out for include rock piles, breaks (big change in depth or drop-offs where fish tend to inhabit), points, saddles (deeper part of water that leads to a shallow part), weed lines (areas with heavy vegetation), and humps (areas of sand and dirt that form a small humps underwater).
Cut multiple holes
The idea of drilling one hole and waiting for fish to come is outdated, ineffective and makes your trip a little boring. If you were fishing in a boat, you would move around and try new places. The same applies to ice fishing. Once you have familiarized yourself with the lake structure, drill multiple holes and monitor them closely. Below are tips on how to use multiple holes.
Drop your bait and do some jigging. Take care not to jig too much because it may scare away the fish.
Putting a sonar in the hole will give you a better idea of what’s going on beneath the surface.
Methods Of Making Holes In The Ice
There are two basic types of ice bores i.e. one operated by turning it manually and the other has a small combustion engine. The latter makes holes quickly while manual ice bores make an excellent choice for those who need fewer holes and aren’t in a hurry. Ice bores with a combustion engine can only be used within a short distance of the vehicle. Holes made with a bore are usually 10-15cm wide and 60-80 cm deep.
There are three types of ice augers i.e. hand augers, gas-powered augers and electric augers. Hand augers range in size from 4” to 8”. As the name suggests, drilling is manual and can be exhausting when drilling multiple holes or experiencing thick ice. Gas augers vary in size from 4” to12” and utilize an engine throttle to drive blades into the ice. The downside of gas augers is the noisy engine and foul smell of gas. Electric augers are powered by rechargeable batteries and drill holes ranging from 4” to 12”.
Ice Pick And Axe
An ice pick is normally 1-1.5 meters long, with the upper half being the handle and the lower half a giant chisel. It allows you to cut a hole while standing upright and so does an axe. Using an ice pick or axe takes more time, but the hole can be freely shaped and sized. In addition, there is no limit to the thickness of ice that can be cut with an ice pick.
Chainsaws and handsaws
If using a chainsaw, avoid one powered by electricity because electric current and water don’t work well together. Whether you opt for a chainsaw or a handsaw, make sure that the blade is longer than the thickness of the ice. The main downside of using saws has to do with the removal of cut-off ice from the hole. The slippery ice blocks can prove heavy.
Secure your footing
One of the most important things to remember when drilling holes in the ice are to secure your footing. Consider drilling over snow patches will give you better gripping and increase stability when drilling. When you break through the ice, surrounding snow will turn to slush. You can utilize that slush to secure the tent skirt or anchor a portable ice hurt. Either way, you kill two birds with one stone.
Let the blades do the cutting
Many anglers make a mistake of applying too much pressure on the auger. Contrary to what one may think, too much downward pressure can slow down things. A good way to know if you are pushing too hard is surging forward or losing balance when the auger breaks through the ice. You just need to apply enough pressure without overloading the powerhead, and the auger will do its job effectively.
Clean the hole
Once you have drilled a hole into the ice, remember to clean. While this isn’t always necessary, it certainly makes spotting fish easier. Kick the snow and slush away from one side of the hole. This will create a channel that directs slush and water away from the hole. It also prevents additional snow from entering the hole. Kicking snow away on the downward side is more effective and creates space for checking the depth with your electronic devices.
One final tip to remember is that winter is just as harsh on fish as it is on humans. As the season progresses and temperatures become lower, fish adapt to their environment. That said, anglers need to adapt as well if they wish to improve chances of a successful catch. Fish prefer to stay in shallower parts of a lake at the beginning and end of the season. Try fishing in rock piles, inside weed lines, points, and breaks. In the midseason when the lake freeze more, fish go to the deeper parts of the water where there is more oxygen. Structures to fish in include humps, saddles, and outside weed lines.
Now that you know where and how to drill holes in the ice, it is time grab your equipment and head out there. Remember to keep warm and use sharp cutting tools. An ice bore or ice auger is your best friend if you want to save time and catch more fish.
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