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How To Keep Ice Fishing Holes From Freezing (Top 3 Methods)

ice fishing hole and rod in snow

So, you’ve just gone through all of the hard work to auger a hole into your favorite ice fishing spot, but every time you step away for a little bit, you notice the ice has started to reform. What should you do about it?

There are several solutions to that problem, and I’m going to run through my three favorite methods. Only one of them is high-tech, and all of them are inexpensive. So, these are options that are accessible to pretty much everybody, and they should keep you from accidentally freezing your line in the water when you finally hook a fish.

3 Ways To Keep An Ice Fishing Hole From Freezing

1. A Skimmer

In my opinion, this is the best way to keep your hole open. All you have to do is buy a plastic scoop of some sort, stow it away in your pocket, and scoop out ice as it starts to form. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

With this method, you don’t have to worry about running out of coals or spray like you do with the alternatives I’ll talk about later. As long as you can bend down and scoop, you’ll have an open hole to fish from.

The only real problem with using this method is that you obviously can’t scoop out the hole if it freezes over entirely. So, you’ll only want to use this method if you plan on sticking near your hole the entire time you’re fishing.

You also run the risk of getting your gloves soaked if you’re not careful. So, try not to dunk the tool into the water. Just skim the ice off of the top.

2. Cooking Spray

Pretty much any liquid that freezes slower than water will work for this, but I’m not too fond of using unsafe chemicals while I’m fishing. So, I’ll use cooking spray as an example. It’s cheap, reliable, and safe for the fish.

Whatever you use, I highly recommend refraining from using anything like WD-40 or similar chemicals. I know a lot of fishermen will use those things anyways, but you should remember that what you do to the water affects everything in it. If you’re eating the fish you catch, it’ll affect you, too.

To use this method, you just spray your hole with your cooking spray about once every half an hour or so. The spray freezes slower than water does. So, it’ll keep your hole open.

If you use this method, try to keep your cooking spray in a relatively warm container. You can store it in your pack or your pocket. It doesn’t really matter. You just want to keep it warm enough that the aerosol doesn’t stop working.

3. A Coal Can

There are technically two different versions of a coal can, but I’m going to tell you about the simplest one. The more advanced version is more work than it’s worth unless you ice fish a lot.

To make a can of coals, you’ll need a coffee can, charcoal, and a chiseling instrument.

Fill the can up with your charcoal, and start to get the coals burning. If you start the coals early, they’ll be ready to go by time you set up the ice.

Now, drill a hole the size of your coffee can next to your main fishing hole. Leave a few inches worth of space between the two holes, and chisel out a small channel to connect the two holes. The channel doesn’t have to break through to the water.

Finally, all you have to do is set the can of burning coals into the smaller hole. As the coals burn, the water around the can will warm up slightly, and it’ll pour through the channel and into your ice fishing hole.

That’s quite a bit of work just to keep your hole open, but it’ll allow you to have a little bit of light, and you can use it to keep your hands warm between bites.

I recommend using this if you want to walk away from your fishing hole for an hour or more. It lasts longer than spray, and you don’t have to scoop anything. However, it’s too much work if you don’t plan on spending your entire day on the ice.

Final Thoughts

Those are three of my favorite methods for keeping ice holes open. They’re reliable, accessible to everyone, and cheap. You can also buy commercial products, but they’re not really necessary unless you’re a serious ice fisherman.

There is one last method that I like more than any of the other options. Just catch a bunch of fish. It’s kind of hard for the ice to refreeze if you’re constantly ripping fish through your ice hole. Obviously, that’s not something you’ll be able to do all of the time, but it’s worth a shot.

More Ice Fishing Articles

1. The Best Minnow Bucket For Ice Fishing

2. The Best Hand Auger For Ice Fishing

3. Ice Fishing Basics For Beginners

Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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