How to Keep Ice Fishing Holes From Freezing (9 Easy Solutions!)

To catch the fish, you are going to have to be able to reach the fish. Cutting a hole in the ice is just the start.

You are also going to need to keep that hole open. I know what you are thinking. “Easier said than done”, right?

Well, I’ve got lots of solutions on how to keep ice fishing holes from freezing. And I’m willing to share.

Here are my 9 handy tips to keep your hole ice-free.

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9 Handy Tips to Keep Ice Fishing Hole Ice-Free

Ice Skimmers


You want something proven and reliable, right. This one isn’t fancy and is super basic.

But do you know what I love?

It really works.

Ice skimmers are little more than a scoop. But choose wisely, and you’ll get a few extra features. Be sure to go for an ice skimmer with a long enough handle that you can keep your hands dry, and look out for ones that have an embossed measure as they are great for gauging ice thickness.

When paired up with a decent ice chisel, you’ll be able to keep that ice hole open all day (with a little work… But hey, look on the bright side, it will warm you up).

Thermal Hole Covers

Whether it’s in a good-quality fishing suit or stopping an ice hole from freezing over, a bit of insulation never goes amiss.

What am I talking about?

Wy, thermal ice hole covers, of course. If you are fishing using a tip-up, these covers can be particularly useful. Consider them a sort of manhole cover, made not from metal but of closed-cell foam.

The insulation prevents the water underneath from freezing and has a cutout section (sometimes with an integrated tip-up) that also allows you to fish.

Want to see an example?

Check this thermal ice fishing hole cover out. It’s awesome.

Ice Defense Pro

You’ve generally got two options when keeping an ice hole clear. You can go manual and scoop any ice and slush out, as described above, or you can do something to raise the temperature.

Do you know where the water is warmer?

Under the ice.

I know what you are thinking. If only there was some way to pump relatively warmer water up to stop that hole from freezing.

Want the good news?

There is.

Cold Nation Ice Defense Pro Series Water Circulator

Now, this isn’t a cheap solution. Still, the Ice Defense Pro is worth every penny, especially if you are a serious ice angler. It pumps warmer water from under the ice into your hole, making it less likely to freeze.

A Great Ice Shelter

This is possibly my favorite option.


Choose a good ice fishing shelter, and you’ll experience nothing but toasty comfort. Paired with a really great heater and ice shelter allows the air to rise in temperature, meaning that your hole won’t freeze over nearly as quickly.

And there’s more.

An ice fishing shelter will keep you out of the elements, so whether it is blowy or snowy, the one thing the definitely won’t be freezing over is your hands.

ice fishing shelter at night stands on a lake

Vibrating Pucks

This solution is pretty novel and also pretty cheap.

It should come as no surprise that moving water doesn’t freeze as readily as completely still water. If you can keep the water in your hole moving, even by a tiny amount, it should stay clear.

These can be used in any relatively deep water. It couldn’t be simpler. Drop the floating puck in the hole and let it buzz away.

Go Old School with a Coal Can

The things that stick around tend to be those that work the best. This has to be one of my favorite techniques as to how to keep ice fishing holes from freezing. It makes me feel like a real-life Davy Crockett.

To utilize this technique, you will need an old can, a good ice chisel, a couple of charcoal briquettes, and a few small rocks. Drill a partial hole and cut a channel leading to your fishing hole. Place your can in the partial hole, add the rocks and then top with a couple of pieces of charcoal.

Once the charcoal is ignited, it heats the rocks, which melt the ice surrounding the can. This relatively warm water slides along the channel into your fishing hole, keeping it clear.

man wearing ice fishing bibs and jacket fishing on frozen lake

Boiling Water

If you’ve got a stove for ice fishing, this is a really effective and easy technique. Oh, and you get to make a coffee while you do it.

Using a pan, a can, or any other metal vessel, keep water heating on the stove as you fish. Occasionally tip a splash into your hole. It really is that easy!


Now, look.

There might be a reason why your ice fishing hole keeps freezing over. Has it been sat still for a long time?

What do you think the reason for that is?

Could it be, possibly, that you aren’t catching any fish?

If you are in a quiet spot, you could try moving to a different location with more action. I’ve yet to see an ice hole freeze up when fish were being pulled through it regularly!

If you’ve got all set with a shelter, this might not be the most practical option, but on those fair-weather days and if you are traveling light, then give it a go!

angler creating fishing hole on frozen lake in winter

Drill a Fresh One

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and accept defeat.

Well, sort of.

If you will go to all the effort of scooping out a hole, why not just drill a fresh one? A powered ice auger will make this really easy! If you go for an electric ice auger, you don’t even need to worry about getting it started either.

Press the button, cut your hole, carry on fishing.

How easy was that?

Don’t feel limited to the above. Check out this article to see the very best ice augers out there!


When it comes to knowing how to keep ice fishing holes from freezing, any of the above will work. Some stop the water from freezing, while others make it easy to remove once it does.

Perhaps try a couple of the above solutions in tandem. Throw me a shelter, a heater, and an electric ice auger, and I am happy!

Which technique is your preference? Got any great secrets? Let me know in the comments!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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