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i've never ice fished, would like to start. sportsmans wearhouse has a hand auger on sale for $29! how thick of ice can you reasonably drill through by hand? i'm big and strong, but when i picture doing this, it doesn't seem like the thing you do with 2 feet of ice. how long should it take to drill a hole through different thicknesses of ice? how long does it take with a gas auger?
thanks.
 

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If you are fishing with ice thicker than 1 ft., IMO a power auger is necessary for enjoyment of the sport of ice fishing, unless you are tipup fishing for monster pike and have an extremely likely spot and a tipup set there, then you don't have to move and actually shouldn't if the spot has good features...
I had to hand drill through 2+ ft of ice at big blue last week and that was miserable. It took nearly a minute per hole. Makes me appreciate it when our power auger isn't broken...........have a good one.
 

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TroutFishingBear said:
If you are fishing with ice thicker than 1 ft., IMO a power auger is necessary for enjoyment of the sport of ice fishing, unless you are tipup fishing for monster pike and have an extremely likely spot and a tipup set there, then you don't have to move and actually shouldn't if the spot has good features...
I had to hand drill through 2+ ft of ice at big blue last week and that was miserable. It took nearly a minute per hole. Makes me appreciate it when our power auger isn't broken...........have a good one.
wow i thought it would take A LOT longer than that. thanks.
 

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I only have a hand drill and drill myself 2 holes and my son one in ice upto 20 inches... Sometimes we move here and there if we havent got any bites, have to put the kid on fish you know. I still enjoy it, takes a little longer to drill the 5 or 6th hole thats for sure.
 

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about a min thru 2' ice with sharp blades i can drill 3-4 one right after the other and 10 15 holes a day lets me move a bit
 

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You can use a hand auger and enjoy fishing through 24" of ice.  I did it last year.  It kind of depends on whether you want to exert yourself when you go fishing. If you accept physical activity as a part of ice fishing, hand augers are sufficient. Usually no need to rush holes through the ice, so you can take your time. Drill one hole, clean it, put a line down it and jig a few times, then set it on a holder and drill another, repeat. If you're really having trouble, and someone with a gas or other power auger is nearby, chances are they will cut you a hole or two if you give them a beer, anyway. Hell, many will cut your holes and offer YOU a beer.

If hand augering, it's best if you pick a good spot and don't need to move around much and drill a lot of holes. For lake trout fishing at a place like Granby, you can get away with just a handful of holes, for example.  It also helps to have a double-offset handle, which you will have to order separately for your auger (most likely) for about $20 + shipping (I can tell you where, if you want).  With the double-offset handle, you can spread the workload between both arms, rather than with just one, so cutting the holes drains you a little less.  Also, you don't need to put a lot of downward pressure on.  If you play with your technique, and always have a sharp set of auger blades, you can do well with the right hand auger.  I highly recommend strikemaster augers over eskimo, for instance.
 

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Cutthroat said:
I highly recommend strikemaster augers over eskimo, for instance.
YES. very important thing right there that cutt mentioned. We had an eskimo once that took a long time to drill a hole, even with fresh blades and not very thick ice.
 

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Of course, you can drill more holes with a power auger.  A drill auger is as good for smaller holes, if you have a way to hook up to an external battery.  If you're in good shape, try the hand auger.  If you have an eskimo and it drills slow, I wouldn't assume it's a fault of hand augers overall, however.  You can return it and get a strikemaster Mora ($40), or Lazer ($69) for now, and do your research on the power augers for later.  There are some new ones coming out that are pretty nice (a coupe of four-cycle gas augers have become available, for instance).  I don't have much use for eskimo-brand hand augers.  Seems like they are hit or miss.  Strikemaster usually cuts like butter right out of the box.

This is me cutting through about 15" of solid (clear/black) ice at Elevenmile in December with my sharp Strikemaster Mora 6" and the double-offset handle. I'm in reasonable condition, but don't exercise. Drilling this hole wasn't too hard in terms of force, because I rely on sharp blades to do the hard work. I was trying to cut fast for the camera. I drilled several others by hand that day, too - and a bunch with a drill hooked up to a motorcycle battery. I'll eventually buy a power auger, when I like them and have disposable cash, but in the meantime, these are economical ways for me to cut a sufficient number of holes to fish all day long.
 

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I have hand drilled through 6-7 ft. of ice on lakes in Minnesota.

The problem is, the offset part of the handle hits the surface of the ice before the drill goes through, and that stops you. But the stores there sell extensions for the shaft so you can go deeper. But that's a problem too, because if you start the hole with the extension installed, the handle is so high up in the air that you can't do a good job of cranking the auger. So you have to drill down about 3 ft., then install the extension, then keep drilling until you hit water.

Of course it helps to have a couple of big husky sons along, but they catch on pretty fast and pretty soon they won't go ice fishing with you. :D

When the ice is thick you learn to pick your spot pretty carefully, because you aren't going to be moving around very much.
 

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i didnt even realize ice could get that thick wow and to drill through that incrediable! and then to fish it i know the cord on my transducer wouldnt even reach the water! and trying to pull a fish through the hole oh man! we usd to walk five miles to school up hill both ways every day! but that was nothing.
 

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littlemac said:
i didnt even realize ice could get that thick wow and to drill through that incrediable! and then to fish it i know the cord on my transducer wouldnt even reach the water! and trying to pull a fish through the hole oh man! we usd to walk five miles to school up hill both ways every day! but that was nothing.
Well, you either have to be able to drill through very thick ice, or else you have to give up fishing for 6 months out of the year. That provides some motivation to come up with a solution!

I have, in some years, seen it go for two and a half months at a stretch where the temp. did not get as high as 20 below zero even at noon. When it's like that, you are going to get some thick ice, no doubt about it.

When I changed jobs, I left Minnesota from the Twin Cities Airport where it was 45 below that morning, and landed in San Jose, CA where it was 45 above. That's 90 degrees warmer! The Californians were all bundled up in down filled parkas, and I was walking around in my shirt sleeves thinking I was in heaven.
 

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wow you must of come from some place really far north. six months of winter and to think they make you take your ice huts off so early in the season. what a waste seems like seven feet of ice would never melt. probally no problem with winter kill either. youd think that ice at elevation would be so much thicker after all its still below freezing even in summmer. huh go figure.
 

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I've seen pictures of guys with gas augers with bits that are more than 6" tall.  Must have to stand on something to use them.

Even though it's cold in the northwoods, you still do have winterkill in lots of places.  I read about winter kill in lakes, or bays in lakes, on several occassions when I lived in Wisconsin, even up north.  Mostly it was due to eutrophication due to unusal amounts of nutrient runoff from farms or construction projects where the ground was disturbed. The nutrients cause a huge bloom of algae and plant life, which decays and uses up the oxygen under the ice, and BAM! winterkill.
 

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Cutthroat said:
Even though it's cold in the northwoods, you still do have winterkill in lots of places. I read about winter kill in lakes, or bays in lakes, on several occassions when I lived in Wisconsin, even up north. Mostly it was due to eutrophication due to unusal amounts of nutrient runoff from farms or construction projects where the ground was disturbed. The nutrients cause a huge bloom of algae and plant life, which decays and uses up the oxygen under the ice, and BAM! winterkill.
Cutthroat, I agree completely. I lived for several years on the shore of Lake Minnetonka, a eutrophic lake, and besides winter kill in the shallower bays, there was a summertime effect, too. As soon as the thermal isocline developed in early summer, the algae below that level used up all the oxygen making it uninhabitable for fish. So all the fish in the whole lake were to be found above the thermocline, and below it there was like 2-3 ppm of O2. You would think that would make the fish easier to find, but as often as not it didn't seem to help me all that much. :mad:
 

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littlemac said:
wow you must of come from some place really far north. six months of winter and to think they make you take your ice huts off so early in the season. what a waste seems like seven feet of ice would never melt. probally no problem with winter kill either. youd think that ice at elevation would be so much thicker after all its still below freezing even in summmer. huh go figure.
Well, it wasn't really six months of winter, more like five, but it took extra time to get rid of the ice. And the ice didn't really get thinner and thinner until it was gone. It sort of turned rotten and lost its structural strength, until one day in May a big wind would come up and the lake would break up and pile up huge mountains of icebergs on the windward shores, which would sit there and take several more weeks to completely melt. There was a lot of force behind that ice, it used to break off docks and piers as though they were made of toothpicks. The local kids, including my own, used to go "mountain climbing" on those huge piles of ice.
 

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True, the ice does get rotten way before it goes, and when it goes, it goes all at once over day. In the UP winter is usually November 15 thru March 15. October 15 to May 1 is snow season. I lived in Upper Michigan, Northern Minnesota, Northern Idaho and interior Alaska... not too often that you have to get the auger extension out.

here is one of those ice cones
http://pasty.com/pcam/Winter-2006/December_snocone
 

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My brother and I hiked to the Square Top lakes (elevation 12,200 ft.) in february and the ice measured 42" thick. It took a full 15 minutes to drill a hole.
 

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I think Slayer sums it up: You can go through any thickness, it's just a matter of time. I grew up in SE Minn. and spuded and drilled a lot of holes through thick ice. I still do not own a power auger. I keep my blades sharp and have no problem getting through ice. I fish plenty on thick ice, too. And drilling a few holes warms you up on a cold day!

My cousin just bought a Nils Master 8" manual with an offset handle. Has surgical stainless steel blades, they claim they cut for a long, long time without sharpening or replacement, and I believe it. That thing cuts through ice like a hot knife through soft butter. It was just over $100, but I would have to say that it is worth it. It will be the next auger I buy, that's for sure.

I may never get a power. I have an aversion to them. They are noisy and heavy, and just ask Johnny O. what they do to your innerds! :eek:
 
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