At our ice-fishing clinic in Kearney last Saturday, during the classroom session, someone asked a question about the size of ice holes allowed in Nebraska, and what size ice auger a person should have. Mostly for safety reasons, the largest diameter ice hole allowed on Nebraska public waters is 10 inches.
While answering the question about what size of auger an ice angler should invest in, I started with one of my favorite answers, “It depends”. There are more ice augers and styles of ice augers on the market now than many of us ever dreamed, and the right one depends on the fishing situation and what is right for each individual.
If you are buying a quality hand auger, you need to consider that the larger the diameter of the hole, the more muscle required to drill it. Good hand augers with razor-sharp blades can cut through a lot of ice in just a few turns, but you will cut holes faster and easier with smaller diameter auger blades. I know guys who use 4-inch diameter hand augers to “run-and-gun,” scouting for fish, but I would say that a 6-inch hand auger is probably the way to go for most hand auger situations.
On the other hand, if you invest in a power auger, well, then how hard it is to drill a hole gets a lot easier and drilling larger diameter holes is not as much of an issue when considering how many holes you can drill before you are “pooped”.
Then, in the clinic, I went on to emphasize that a 10-inch ice hole is ginormous and more hole than you will ever need. I emphasized that by stating that I thought I could pull a great white shark through a 10-inch hole.
When I said that, there was a young boy on the front row who’s eyes got real big and he repeated “A GREAT WHITE SHARK!” loud enough for the whole room to hear clearly.
Laughter erupted, and I felt bad because the youngster was embarrassed, and my exaggeration to make a point had an aspiring ice angler thinking we were going to catch great white sharks!
Actually, there is a place where they do catch sharks through the ice! Greenland sharks.
Those guys only started with a 12-inch hole!
Wonder where I could get a pair of those cool ice-fishing pants?????
It was not a shark, but in all of my years of ice-fishing, I can tell you of exactly one fish when we thought we were going to have to drill a bigger hole. It was several years ago, while fishing with my uncle Ivan and my Dad on Merritt. I was jigging a spoon and dropper above some standing timber in deep water. While looking away from my depth-finder a fish thumped my bait. Instinctively, I set the hook, and a B-I-G fish was on. I do not know how long I fought that fish, time stands still during those experiences, but eventually I worked a big channel cat up just under the ice beneath our feet.
I could not get it into the hole, an 8-inch hole.
We were preparing to drill another hole right beside the first when Uncle Ivan shed his coat, rolled up his sleeves, got on his belly and reached into the ice hole. He was able to grab the big cat by the head, get it turned and up into the hole. It came out with a pop, like a cork (not really but hey, I am telling a fish story here!).