A Guide to Drilling Holes for Ice Fishing: Tips and Techniques

Video how to drill through ice

Ice fishing is a fascinating winter activity that requires preparation and planning. To ensure a successful day on the ice, it’s important to know how to drill an ice fishing hole effectively. With the right knowledge and tools, you can make your ice fishing adventure both enjoyable and productive. Here are some tips to help you drill the perfect hole.

ice fisherman

A Guide to Drilling Holes for Ice Fishing: Tips and Techniques

Scout out your spot ahead of time

Before the water freezes over, it’s crucial to scout out your fishing spot. By doing so, you can gain insights into what’s happening beneath the surface of the water. The ideal fishing depth is usually two to four feet from the lake’s bottom. Using a depth indicator after drilling the holes is essential for precision.

Take the time to observe the area and look for signs that indicate where the fish are likely to be. Look for sheltered areas, rocky spots, or deep pools that attract fish. Avoid areas with high underwater rocks, stumps, or excessive weeds. Knowing where you want to drill your hole before the river ices over is a key factor in having a successful day of ice fishing.

Know your auger

Choosing the right auger is crucial for ice fishing. Power drill ice augers are popular due to their ability to drill through thick ice and quickly create multiple holes. However, they are heavier compared to hand augers. Hand augers are lighter and safer to use on thinner ice, although they require more effort. It’s best to have both types of augers in your arsenal.

ice fishing auger

Secure your footing

Before you start drilling, it’s essential to secure your footing. Plant your feet firmly on the ice to operate the auger safely. To enhance traction, consider drilling small snow patches on the surface of the ice. Snow provides better grip than bare ice. Additionally, the snow around your feet will turn to slush when the auger breaks through the ice and into the water. You can use this slushy snow to secure a tent skirt or anchor a portable ice hut.

Let the blades do the work

Whether you are using a power drill auger or a hand-powered auger, it’s important to let the blades do their job. Excessive pressure can cause the blades to operate more slowly. You should feel in control and balanced when the blades break through the ice and into the water. The amount of pressure required varies depending on the type of drill. For hand drills or chipper drills, apply just enough pressure to encourage the drill downward. Lazer Drills require no downward pressure. In fact, with a Lazer Drill, it’s best to pull upward a bit when the drill breaks through the ice.

ice fishing hole

Prepare the ice hole

Once you have drilled the hole, clear it of any debris. Kick the snow away from the downwind side of the hole to create a channel for the debris. The remaining snow around the hole will act as a barrier between the slush and the ice hole. Use the auger to remove any residual slush or loose ice from the hole and dump it into the clear channel you created.

Clean your auger

After drilling, it’s crucial to clean off the blades of your auger. Ice build-up on the blades can decrease their effectiveness. To remove any residual moisture, run your auger above the ice and spin it. When setting down your auger, place it on the ice rather than in the snow. Snow can freeze to the blade and make it more difficult to use. Leaving your auger in the sun will keep the blades as warm as possible. If a significant amount of ice builds up on the blades, clear it away before using the auger again to ensure safe operation.


Q: What is the ideal fishing depth for ice fishing?

A: The best depth for ice fishing is usually around two to four feet from the bottom of the lake.

Q: Can I use a hand auger on thick ice?

A: Hand augers are generally suitable for ice up to four feet deep. Beyond that, a power drill ice auger is recommended.

Q: How do I clean the blades of my auger?

A: To clean the blades, simply run the auger above the ice to remove any residual moisture. If ice builds up on the blades, clear it away before using the auger again.


Ice fishing is a winter tradition that offers a unique way to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors. By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to drill the perfect hole for ice fishing. Remember to scout out your spot, choose the right auger, secure your footing, let the blades do the work, prepare the ice hole, and clean your auger. Stay safe and have a fantastic ice fishing experience!

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