How to Cut a Hole in the Ice for Ice Fishing (Quick answer with pics)

To go ice fishing, you will need to know how to cut a hole in the ice. You can’t get to the fish without it.

How do you cut a hole in the Ice for Ice Fishing? The best option is a hand auger, which is a type of drill made specifically for drilling through the ice. Simply place it on the spot you want to drill a hole into, and start cranking until you have cut all the way through the ice and can see the water.

Tips for creating a hole in the ice

The hand augers already mentioned are great for very thick ice, even ice that’s 12 inches or more. While this will still require some effort on your part, it is a relatively easy method to create a hole perfect for fishing within minutes.

The process of using them is quite easy to understand. When handling one, always be conscious of the blade and be careful not to injure yourself with it. You should cover the blade when not in use to avoid any accidents.

When you are ready to create your fishing hole, hold the drill by the handle. The handle should be on top, and the blade should be on the bottom, though that will be obvious once the device is in your hand, since the blade is heavier. Place the drill on the ice in the spot where you wish your hole to be.

There is a handgrip towards the top of the middle section of the auger. This part rotates 360 degrees. Either clockwise or counterclockwise will work. Apply downward pressure on the top of the auger with one hand, and rotate this section with the other. Continue doing this until you feel the drill coming into contact with the water. To bring it back, just reverse the drill a bit and hoist the auger out of the hole.

The hand auger is not the only tool available for this, of course. One disadvantage to them is that while they are reasonably priced, they are not the least expensive option you have available to you. If you are not going to be fishing in extremely thick ice, there are other options you should consider. But if you are fine paying between $50 and $150, you can’t go wrong with these devices.

Ice Chisel

Using an ice chisel is a great way to cut a hole in the ice as well. An ice chisel is nothing more than a heavy pole with a sharp edge at the bottom. The chisel you use does not even have to be specifically for ice, of course. With this tool, firmly grasp the chisel and start cutting at the ice with it in a circular pattern.

Doing this is simply a matter of lifting the chisel up and down repeatedly. Be sure to adjust your grip throughout this, and always be careful not to let the blade hit your feet or anything else besides ice. Continue until you encounter water.

This process normally takes just a minute or two, but if the ice is especially thick, such as in the coldest months of the year, this could take a lot longer and could prove quite difficult.

Ice chisels are inexpensive and versatile, costing around $30. So if you don’t have an auger, you should definitely be able to get the job done with a chisel.

It is the least expensive option and is especially useful when the ice isn’t too thick, or if you are returning to a hole you previously made that has frozen over again. But maybe consider going for an auger if you are trying to fish in ice thicker than 7 inches.

One big thing to be aware of: you might lose your grip on the chisel once you hit the water. You’ll be upset if you lose your chisel in the water, so to prevent this, consider attaching a rope to it. Attach the other end of the rope to your body. This way, if you lose your grip, you will not lose the chisel.

Power Auger

If you want to get serious about ice fishing and are willing to spend several hundred dollars, you may consider a power auger. A power auger is the same type of drill as a hand auger, but with one difference: a motor does the drilling. The benefit of this tool is that you will be able to cut holes with little effort because the machine will do the heavy lifting.

This is great for extremely thick ice, as in 20 inches or more. These drills cost between $300 and $600, so it’s probably not worth buying if you are not going to be fishing regularly. Gasoline-based drills will also require some maintenance (like any motor will), but there are electric power augers available as well.

To use a power auger, grab it by the handles, place the drill over the spot you want the hole to be at, start the engine, and push downward. You will find that you can cut a hole through the ice in less than a minute, making this the fastest way to drill a hole by far.

It is an amazing tool, and you will be grateful for it if you spend many days each winter on frozen lakes ice fishing. But given the high price tag, you probably shouldn’t get one unless this is definitely what you plan to do.

What to Look For When Buying an Ice Chisel

Ice chisels are very simple, so buying one is not complicated, and there really isn’t a large variety of products competing. You are looking for a long, metal, pole-like object with a sharp edge at the bottom. These are found at many stores, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and The Home Depot. As long as the chisel is weighty and long, it should get the job done.

An alternative to buying an ice chisel is to attach a concrete chisel to a long pole. This could be the way to go if you really don’t want to buy anything new. Just make sure you attach the chisel securely. You don’t want to lose it.

What to Look For When Buying an Auger

When considering an auger, the big question is “power” or “hand?” The price difference between the two is huge; hand augers are affordable, while power augers are a large investment.

As I said earlier, unless you are planning to make ice fishing a serious hobby, you should stick with hand augers. They are available at specialty stores such as Bass Pro Shop or Cabela’s. Or you can find them on Amazon.

You will see different sizes of hand augers, ranging from six-inch to eight-inch devices. A longer hand auger will be difficult to use in particularly thick ice. The six-inch variety is always a safe bet.

When it comes to power augers, you will be paying hundreds of dollars. Choosing one will be similar to choosing any sort of power tool. There are gas-based and electric options. The disadvantage of gas engines is that they need fuel and require a bit of maintenance.

With electric, the downside is that the batteries have limited charge. Gas may be better for long ice fishing trips, while an electric one is fine for a day trip since you only need to drill a hole once, usually.

Do I need multiple tools?

You don’t need multiple tools, but you can get them if you want. Different tools are better for different situations. The ice chisel is best for thinner ice. The hand auger or power auger is ideal for thick ice, but of course, can handle thinner ice too. Some fishermen might choose to bring along multiple tools so that the best tool is used no matter the situation.

For example, an ice chisel is perfect for breaking the ice that has formed over a hole you made previously. As you gain experience ice fishing, you will gain preferences for these sorts of things, but in the beginning, it is more than fine to acquire one tool and one tool alone for making a hole.

Related Questions

What is a spud bar? A spud bar is a safety device to keep you from falling into the ice. It looks like a tall stick. Use it to see how thick the ice is. When walking, poke it into the ice in front of you. By seeing how much water seeps through upon doing this, you can determine how thick the ice is.

How thick should ice be to walk on it? Ice should be at least four inches thick to walk on it. You should always be cautious. When determining where to go ice fishing, stay away from unfamiliar areas. If ice is five inches thick or more, though, you probably have nothing to worry about.

Tim Butala

My name is Tim and I have been a fisherman my whole life. My favorite fish to go after is a Striped Bass.

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