Drilling holes is a necessity for ice fishing. Choosing a good spot to drill and proper technique are important considerations. Irregardless of the type of auger you own, follow these tips for trouble-free tunneling.
- Respect blades — They're ultra-sharp and should be covered when not drilling. Upgrade to a quality cover should the in-box version be cumbersome to use. Replace dull blades as needed.
- Secure footing — A wide, comfortable stance is important for safety when drilling; it also helps with handling an auger. Opt for standing on snow for traction instead of glare ice whenever possible. Wear boot cleats for added grip when surface conditions are slick.
- Avoid drilling near vehicles — There are many reasons for this, but one is that automobiles can carry sand and salt from roads onto the ice. Contact with this debris when drilling can nick and dull blades.
- Fresh ice is best — It's generally recommended to drill through fresh ice; however, if you reopen holes frequently in an ice hut, a chipper blade tends to be the best tool for the task.
- Don't let clothing dangle — Tuck-in sweater strings, lanyards, hand towels and other loose clothing before drilling to prevent it from getting caught in the auger.
- Let the auger do the work — Augers are designed to cut and don't need excessive downward pressure. Pushing down is often counterproductive.
- Drill straight — Leaning when drilling is an easy mistake to make, but try to avoid it as a slanted tunnel is more work, not to mention interferes with landing fish.
- Prepare for break-through — The last few inches of ice typically deliver extra resistance and serve as a reminder to keep a good grip on the auger. This might seem obvious, but I've seen a fair share of anglers caught off guard and knocked off balance when the auger finally burrows through the ice.
- Lift straight — After drilling the tunnel, be sure to lift the auger straight out of the hole and remember to be ultra-cautious with the blades