How To Prevent Your Holes From Freezing Over While Ice Fishing
By Ziehnert Guide Service LLC
During the early ice season and throughout much of the winter, there will be times when you will be ice fishing in extremely cold temperatures. One of the most frustrating aspects of this is that your hole will freeze over and you will be stuck trying to find ways to open it back up and to prevent it from happening. Ice buildup can also create jagged edges around your hole that can create knicks and even cause you to lose a fish of a lifetime.Although the diehard ice fisherman will fish through any condition, by using different products and techniques, you'll be able to battle fish without worrying about ice build up in your hole.
Always Have an Ice Skimmer: One of the fastest ways that ice can build up in the hole is when you don't fully clean it out after you drill it. Ice Skimmers are the perfect solution for this because they simply allow you to scoop all the ice and slush out. If you leave it, it allows the ice to form faster and it will end up catching your line when you're trying to jig. Ice Skimmers can be made out of metal or plastic so depending on what style of fishing you're doing you will want to find the right one for your needs. Some also come with chisel ends on the top that can be useful for re-breaking holes open and even making a hole bigger if you hook into that one in a lifetime big one.
Although Ice Skimmers can work well for hole hopping, if you're a tip-up fisherman, it isn’t always practical to constantly have to scoop out each one. To combat this, you can use an Insulated Hole Cover that will insulate the hole to prevent any snow or ice from building up. When the ice becomes snow covered, any wind will blow snow directly into any uncovered holes and then they will freeze even faster. They also work great to prevent light penetration if you are targeting suspended fish that cruise under the ice like Lake Trout and Atlantic Salmon. These are basically round, foam inserts that fit around almost every single style of tip up and then sit on top of the ice.
If you have any old cross style tip ups like the Heritage Lakers, the screws can lose their grip in the wood and the tip up will fall over if you get a hard take from a fish. When this happens the spool can get caught under the ice and the fish can snap the line or get off. However, If you attach one of the insulated covers to the tip up, it prevents the tip up from moving.
If you want to have a hands free solution to ice buildup, Ice companies are now making aerators that can be placed directly into the hole to keep the water constantly moving. The “Ripple Puck” made by Lakco is a floating, vibrating puck that runs on two double A batteries and has a run time of 10 hours to keep you ice free all day. They do vibrate pretty rapidly, but so far it seems like they do not deter fish from biting.
Another great idea is to use solar powered aerators that use light to keep them running all day. HT Ice Enterprises makes the OSPA-1 Oxy Max Solar Powered Air Pump and the Oxymax Solar Powered Air Pump that have been used over the last few seasons to battle ice buildup. All you have to do is place the solar panel side up, put your tubing in the hole, and let the aerator do the rest.
Auto-Hooksetting devices have become extremely popular over the last few years due to how effective they are at hooking fish before they spit the bait, but they seem to really struggle in extremely cold weather. There is nothing worse than walking over to your Jaw Jacker or Striker Pro and seeing that the line is frozen to the ice. This can be costly because if you have ice build up, it will not trigger the auto-hooksetter from going off. Light biters like perch and crappie will then be able to steal your bait all day long without any detection. Luckily, Automatic Fisherman created the “Ice Stopper Kit”, which comes with a solution and bobber that will work even if the hole does freeze over. By running your line through their bobber, it will allow the ice to build up, but the fish can still trigger the hooksetter. There is a reservoir inside the bobber where you place a non-toxic solution that coats the line to prevent it from freezing.
For those of you who do not want to carry extra equipment around on the ice, there are a variety of insulated tip ups made by Clam, HT, Frabil, etc that have everything you need built right into them to prevent ice build up. These tip ups are typically round and sometimes have a foam insert under them for insulation. The most effective tip up I’ve found has been the HT Enterprises Polar Thermal Tip Up. The trip mechanism is freeze proof and the tip up is built round to insulate a 6-10” hole. They also come with telescopic flags that can be seen from far away, so they make a great night fishing tip up as well. Storing insulated tip ups is easy as well because most of them will fit right inside a 5-gal bucket.