How Many Holes Do You Drill for Ice Fishing?

People who have never gone ice fishing believe that it consists only of going out onto the ice, drilling, and catching fish.

It is one approach, but there’s a chance you won’t be successful at catching fish.

Smart fishermen use a common strategy that starts before the ice is thick to sustain a group of fishermen.

Ice fishing requires some planning and consider how you want to get to your location in the winter.

Take safety measures before venturing out onto the ice and ask any seasoned fishermen if they have noticed any areas that tend to freeze later than others.

It is best to scout out your location as soon as possible:

Before the water freezes over, ascertain what is occurring below the surface.

The best depth for fishing is 2-4 feet off the lake’s bottom.

Here we include how many holes you need to drill for ice fishing in this article.

What Is the Size of an Ice Fishing Hole?

Going ice fishing without constructing a hole in the frozen water is difficult.

“How big should a snow fishing hole be” is a frequently asked question among both novice and seasoned ice fishermen.

The diameter of ice fishing holes varies from 6 to 12 inches.

An 8-inch hole is large enough to accommodate most fish while also being simple to drill with a hand-powered ice auger.

You can determine the size of the fishing hole based on specific needs and instances.

How Thick is the Ice- is It varies?

No matter how many lakes you fish in the winter, you’ve probably noticed that the ice thickness differs greatly.

Even 10 feet away from your first hole, there may be different thicknesses of ice.

What connection exists between the size of the hole and the amount of ice?

Deeper ice is more difficult to drill, so that’s one thing.

Cutting through the ice requires a lot of effort regardless of the auger type.

A 6-inch auger will be much simpler to drill with than an 8-inch auger if all you have is a hand auger and your angling spot has 2 feet of ice.

A small opening in thick ice makes it challenging to control a fighting fish’s movement.

Smaller panfish don’t cause much of a problem, but even in the dead of winter, walleye or lake trout can move quickly.

What Are the Ideal Sizes of Fishing Holes?

To find fish, you’ll need to drill more than one hole.

It’s critical to consider how much effort you can put forth to break through the ice.

Here is a guide for selecting the size of the ice fishing hole for the ice thickness.

Ideal sizes of the fishing hole
Ice thickness Hole size
4-6 inches 6-8 inches
6-18 inches 6-10 inches
18-24 inches 8-12 inches
Over 24 inches 8 to 12 inches

After drilling holes, use a depth indicator because ice fishing requires a lot of accuracy.

Not because being sluggish is awesome, but rather because sweating in cold weather will make you numb to the bone.

You can cut your line across the sharp, bottom edge of the hole if you are unable to control them.

How Should You Choose an Auger?

Keep in mind that drilling through ice is difficult. If the auger bit is excessively big and the ice is too thick, even the sharpest hand-powered augers will be difficult to use.

You must take the type of auger you intend to use into account when determining the best size for drilling holes.

There are numerous options such as hand-powered, electric, gas, and propane augers.

Each has a special advantage of its own, but they all have their share of drawbacks as well.

To find the best ice auger for you, be sure to read our in-depth guide to comparing the models available.

The hole size is crucial no matter the auger type.

8 inches works in the majority of circumstances, but drilling an 8-inch hole is difficult.

An 8-inch hand auger works well for ice that is less than 18 inches thick.

Do Large Ice Holes Pose a Threat?

Without a hint of safety, no conversation about ice fishing is complete.

The size of the hole you can make in the ice is unlimited.

A large ice hole might seem cool, but there is a risk involved for you and the anglers.

Never allow a hole to be so large that someone could fall in.

Never plunging into ice-cold water, children would find this to be particularly traumatic.

It takes longer for a large hole to freeze solid.

It might only be an inch thick; the top layer is going to freeze first, rendering it invisible to a person strolling to their spot.

So, never drill a hole more than 12 inches in diameter.

How Many Holes Do You Need to Go Ice Fishing?

Fish gather around underwater features like rock piles, deadfalls, and others, etc.

So, it is simpler for predators to pin a baitfish toward a rock or target drop-offs and other changes in the landscape.

The number of ice holes has a significant impact on ice fishing.

To make a channel for the debris you’ll pull out of the ice hole, and kick the snow away from the hole’s downwind side.

The snow will serve as a barrier between the slush and the ice hole.

To remove any remaining slush or loose ice from the hole, use the auger.

The Number of Holes You Should Drill?

Consider that you selected the ideal size for poking holes in the ice.

The next consideration is how many holes you intend to drill.

It is simple to assume that you could drill dozens of holes without any trouble.

Things become more difficult when you put on a bulky insulated jacket in below-freezing temperatures.

Few holes are typically drilled each day by ice fishermen.

Power auger users can easily drill a lot more holes.

Finding fish involves drilling hole-following hole until you get regular bites.

If you’re going after smaller fish, dig a six-inch bit, whereas larger species might need a ten-inch.

You can drill multiple holes but take some caution.

As you move away from the shore, use an auger, or chisel to continuously check the ice.

Avoid digging many holes near inlets or moving water where there are cracks.

How Do You Drill an Ice Hole for Ice Fishing?

You’re now on the ice with all of your ice fishing equipment. Locate a location that seems promising.

Set up your tent and drill many holes as there are tip-ups around your shack; start with a minimum of 5 and as many as 10.

Install your jigging rod and fish finder in the hole in your shack.

Put your tip-ups in the gaps around you, making sure to place them where you can see them.

When it comes to largemouth or smallmouth bass, you can find them in the same locations year-round, even in the scorching summer months.

So, keep track of where you fish in the summer and use a lake map to find those spots again in the winter.

If you use a more extensive ice flasher, all the ice holes you fish will be automatically saved with your phone so you can go back to the best locations.

For How Long Should You Fish a Hole?

Generally speaking, if you wait around for a pressure drop or a forthcoming afternoon bite but an hour passes with no action, you can move.

But it’s difficult to say how long you fish a hole.

You will be better able to make decisions if you use a flasher.

Keep an eye out for high underwater rocks, stumps, or extremely weedy areas.

If you’ve marked fish, you might need to alter the way you present rather than move to a different location if you’re not succeeding.

After an hour, if you haven’t marked anything, it’s probably time to move on.


Wonderful spots to catch fish are springs.

While traditional anglers rely on charts, maps, and time on the water, fish finders and handheld sonar devices can be useful to see what’s beneath the ice.

Both methods are effective, and with a few adjustments and modifications, you’ll be catching rather than fishing.

The number and size of a particular ice fishing hole is one aspect of ice fishing instruction.

You can spot signs and cues that indicate where the fish are most likely to be by searching your spot or spots.

Depending on the type of fish you are looking for, you can find deep pools or protected rocky areas.

Keep in mind while drilling a hole that where the water is moving quickly, the ice is thinner.

When searching for a location to drill, it is best to stay away from inlets and other water features with faster-moving water!