Ice fishing can be a fun way to pass the time in winter, but one question just about every ice fishing enthusiast has is how to keep ice fishing holes from freezing over. Even on warmer days, the combination of almost frozen water, ice, and freezing temperatures will freeze even a large ice fishing hole.
Fortunately, there are several items, homemade and store-bought, that can help keep your ice hole free from ice. None of these suggestions are complex, and most you may already do to keep your ice fishing hole free of ice.
The methods of keeping your ice fishing hole open throughout your time fishing, and even beyond, are collected from outdoor, ice fishing, and fishing websites and publications.
This article will discuss nine great ideas on how to keep ice fishing holes from freezing that all types of ice fishermen can easily do.
Manually With an Ice Skimmer
You will find an ice skimmer at most stores that sell ice fishing equipment. You can also probably use something suitable in your kitchen if you want to save money. Anything that can collect ice while letting warmer water flow through will do. Some people have even used articles of clothing to do a quick scoop and keep their ice fishing hole ice-free.
How often you will need to be scooping ice depends on the temperature, but usually, you must do it once every 15 minutes to a half hour.
Can of Coals
A can of coals is slightly more complicated than skimming a fishing hole manually. The steps are as follows:
- Drill two holes: Your jigging hole and a companion hole with about four inches between them.
- Drill or cut a small channel between both holes that allows water to flow freely
- Fill up a metal can with hot rocks, coals, a few charcoal briquettes, etc.
- Rig the second hold to immerse most of the metal can but not all of it
- Suspend the can with the hot coals in the second hole
The water of the second hole serves as an ice fishing hole heater because of the can of burning coals. You can either add flammable material to the can to keep it burning or replace the coals once they are no longer sufficient to warm the water enough to avoid freezing over.
The warmed water will then flow freely through the channel and heat up the water in the fishing hole, keeping it at a high enough temperature to prevent freezing over.
You should not use this method of keeping your fishing holes from freezing if you use an ice shelter or bob house because of the smoke and carbon monoxide.
The Aerator Method
An aerator that you use to keep bait water oxygenated is also suitable for keeping your ice fishing hole clear of ice. The constant introduction of bubbles into the water in your ice hole will prevent freezing by movement. The noise and action of the bubbles may also attract more fish curious about what is causing a commotion.
The downside with an aerator is that you either have to have a dedicated one or keep shifting between the bait bucket and ice fishing holes.
If you have a fire source on the ice or a way to boil water, you can pour heated water into your ice fishing holes. Heated water keeps the surface water warm and prevents freezing.
Insulate the Hole
A board with styrofoam cutouts the size of the hole will insulate enough to keep the fishing hole from freezing, often overnight. This method is a pain if you use a tip-up or hand jig, but it will prevent a hole from freezing if the ice angler goes away for a while and resume fishing in a few hours.
The styrofoam acts as a thermal hole cover for the main fishing hole, or if you run several holes, you can create multiple thermal hole covers.
Anchoring your styrofoam onto a board, which protects the ice hole from the wind, is critical. You can leave the styrofoam in bad weather to keep snow out. It allows you to return to stop ice fishing for at least a night, and if you check it regularly, ice fishing hole covers can keep holes open over several nights.
Add Denatured Alcohol
Denatured alcohol provides enough resistance to freezing because it has a lower freezing point, even in cold water, that you can use the alcohol to keep ice fishing holes ice-free. This type of alcohol is biodegradable, so it will not leave any residue or show in the water.
The downside is that you have to replenish it about as much as you have to replenish a hole with boiling water, which can be monotonous, especially if you run several tip-ups.
If carrying around bottles of denatured alcohol is not a big deal, it is probably the easiest way to keep the freeze off the surface of your fish hole.
Ripple pucks vibrate in your ice fishing hole and keep ice from forming. They run on AA batteries, and you leave them in your hole to create ripples. Some people say they scare fish, but an equal number say fish are attracted to the movement. A Ripple puck will not interfere with a tip-up or tip-up box.
Ice Defense Pro
The Ice Defense Pro moves warm water from below to the surface. The movement of the water and the temperature keep ice from forming. The product is a cool way to keep ice fishing without paying much attention to your ice clearing method.
Cooking spray has oil, and oil freezes at a lower temperature than water. You will need to keep the aerosol from freezing, and your equipment will get covered in oil, but it does work.
If you love fishing, including ice fishing, and are wondering how to keep ice holes from freezing, any of these methods will let you wait for that next bite worry-free. Depending on how labor intensive you want to get, you can go old school with a skimmer or embrace technology.