9 Best Ways to Keep Your Ice Fishing Hole From Freezing

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With cold winds blowing, more and more anglers target frozen lakes in pursuit of an adventure. Fishing in freezing temperatures is a challenge in its own right. The low temperatures drive fish dormant and cause you to constantly check your gear and keep the hole clear of ice. 

That’s why we are going to dedicate today’s piece to discussing 9 clever ways to keep your ice fishing hole from freezing. For those of you in a hurry, here you have four quick ones: 

  • Use an ice fishing shelter
  • Ice skimmer
  • Hot water
  • Cooking oil

Do you want to read the rest? Stay with us a little longer. We will explain why each method works. This way, you can decide which is the best one to keep your ice fishing hole from freezing. 

Ice Skimmer

Using an ice skimmer is an easy and reliable method to clear the ice from your fishing hole. 

Although an ice skimmer sounds rather fancy. It is nothing more than a scoop with a large handle. The Rapala skimmer is a great example. 

It has an aluminum frame, making it more durable than plastic ice skimmers. As a result, you won’t need to purchase another one. 

Although this method is easy, it requires you to pay constant attention to the hole, especially if it is windy. In other words, you must constantly check for ice and scoop it out. As a result, it might not be the best method for those who have several open holes. Besides, it is a pain in the back to be constantly clearing the ice. At least it is better than using your bare hands. 

Ice Fishing Shelter

If the weather is too rough, then an ice shelter is one logical and safe choice. It will protect your body from the freezing air. Plus, it will provide cover to your tackle and ice fishing hole, making it less likely to freeze. 

An ice fishing shelter is like a camping tent. The only difference is that it has no floor or has a huge hole in it. The shelter walls are windproof, keeping the interior warm. As a result, it is less likely for the hole to freeze. 

Although ice fishing shelters are a must-have addition if the temperatures are too harsh, it is also an expensive addition to your toolbox. For example, the Eskimo FatFish Series retail for around 300 to 650 bucks depending on the model. 

Eskimo FF949i FatFish Pop-up Portable Hub-Style Ice Shelter,...
  • MORE FISHABLE AREA: Flared, wide-bottom design...
  • 600 DENIER FULLY-INSULATED: IQ Insulated Quilted...
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Hot Water

Using a propane heater to boil water is an old trick that I picked up from my grandpa. It is quite effective, although not a permanent solution. Therefore, you need to keep boiling water at constant intervals to keep your ice fishing hole clear. 

The best way to keep a fairly constant flow of boiling water is to boil around 3 cups. Use one cup, and replenish the stove. This way, boiling the water will take less time and you can keep pouring it into the hole at regular intervals. 

One problem with this method is the fact that you have to bring a propane stove and a pot to boil the water. In other words, more gear to bring. 

Cooking Oil

Although it might not be the best way in terms of pollution, pouring cooking oil into the ice fishing hole will keep it from freezing.

You see, cooking oils have a lower freezing point than water. As a result, it will keep the hole from freezing. However, bear in mind that your line will also get soaked in oil.

I personally don’t recommend this method. But I can’t deny its effectiveness. Just make sure to use a chemical-free oil. 

Ripple or Vibration Puck

Although new, vibration pucks are increasingly popular among anglers. The working principle is simple. The puck produces ripples that move the water’s surface. As a result, it makes ice formation virtually impossible. 

You might think that these gadgets are expensive. Thankfully this is not the case. You can get one for around 20 dollars. That, paired with the ease of use, are the two main reasons people use ripple pucks. 

Lakco RP1 Ripple Puck Hole Opener
  • Ice Fishing
  • Lakco Quality Tackle
  • Country Of Origin : United States

Coal, Cans, and Stones

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. It is still used today because it is a simple, effective, and inexpensive method to keep your ice fishing hole from freezing. 

Some coal, a can, and a couple of small rocks are the only things you need for this to work. Start by drilling your ice fishing hole. Then, practice another shallow hole nearby.

Chisel is a channel connecting the two holes. Place the can in the shallow pit, add the rocks, then the coal and ignite. 

Warm water will start to move from the shallow pit to the hole, keeping it from freezing. All that’s needed is to keep the coal red.

We do recommend making at least two shallow holes. This way, you can switch the can if the water stops flowing. 

Water Circulator

Using a water circulator is another novel solution to icing. It basically pumps the water underneath the ice all the way to the surface. 

Despite what you might think, the temperature beneath the surface is a little higher. Therefore, by constantly pumping this warmer water back to the surface, you will keep the hole from freezing. First, you will keep the water at a slightly higher temperature. Plus, you will achieve the same effect as a ripple puck, as the pumping will disturb the water’s surface. 

The bad news is that finding a good water circulator is quite a challenge. There are not many options in the market. 

Thermal Covers

Let’s start with a word of caution. Thermal covers only work with ice fishing tip-ups. Consequently, there is no point in getting one if you are using a rod and line. 

In fact, most thermal covers double back as a tip-up. The Frabill 1662 is one example. It is also one of the best ice fishing tip-ups you can get today. Click here if you want to read more about it.

Think of thermal covers as insulation devices. They cover the hole and the water, keeping the cold wind outside. This way, and because the body has poor thermal conductivity, the water won’t freeze. 

Use a Stick

Rudimentary as it might sound, using a stick to stir the hole will achieve the same result as using a vibration puck. Naturally, it is more annoying as you need to do this regularly. 

It is still better than using your bare hand, though. Besides, there is no other way if you don’t have access to either of the options above. 

When Everything Else Fails: MOVE!

Some anglers argue that a productive fishing hole never freezes. There is some truth behind this statement. If you constantly take fish out of the water, there will be no time for ice to cover the hole. 

In other words, you better move to a new location if you are not getting bites! 

Final Thoughts

Freezing temperatures make fishing more challenging. But also more rewarding, as there are many things to take care of on your way to success. 

Today you have learned 9 ways of keeping your ice fishing hole from freezing. You can either use boiling water, a can with coal, or a water circulator to prevent ice formation by keeping the whole warm. Alternatively, you can use a vibration puck, an ice skimmer, or cooking oil to disrupt ice formation. You can also use a stick if you forget to bring any of these gadgets. 

External insulation, such as ice fishing shelters and thermal covers are suitable solutions as well. A shelter will protect you and your gear too. Whereas a thermal cover is a great way to kill two birds with one stone if you fish using a tip-up.  

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