As a sport, fishing, and ice fishing specifically, has a lot of terminologies. Not only are there a lot of words to learn, but it also varies based on location, making it confusing to many beginners just starting to learn.
In ice fishing, there are two different holes. An artificial hole is made using an auger or chisel and is typically referred to simply as an ice fishing hole. On the other hand, suckerholes are created by an object sticking out of the ice, causing the ice to melt as the sun heats the object.
Keep on reading to learn more about the terminology related to ice fishing holes and what it takes to create one.
Ice fishing, as you probably know, involves an angler above the ice who is trying to tempt the fish below the ice to take the bait- literally.
However, for the fisherman to reach the fish below the ice, they first need to have a way to get their tackle into the water, where the fish actively hunt for an easy meal, which is where the ice fishing hole comes in.
Two types of holes can be used when ice fishing: a natural suckerhole and an artificial ice fishing hole. Suckerholes are created by an object stuck in the ice, like a piece of driftwood or a fallen branch.
As the sun heats the object, the ice around it melts.
These suckerholes are not typically used in ice fishing because they are likely not in ideal locations or have a high risk of getting snagged.
For this reason, many anglers will bring their equipment to create an ice fishing hole.
Ice fishing hole is accepted and well understood by many anglers, and variations of this are also used. Ice hole, fishing hole, hole in the ice, and anything else to a similar effect can be used without confusion.
Simply referring to the ice fishing hole as “the hole” is also a common name for an ice fishing hole. You might also hear more experienced fishermen throw out slang about the ice fishing hole.
A “honey hole” is one example you might hear, referring to a specific ice fishing hole that is particularly productive.
Most anglers are relatively superstitious, so we believe that certain spots will always do well and might be protective of their honey hole.
Another term to refer to a 10” ice fishing hole by some is “boot swallower” due to the large hole size and how easy it is to step into one accidentally.
Unattended boot swallowers can be particularly annoying as they can be easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention.
It’s important to know that the term ice hole, in particular, might not refer to the actual ice fishing hole- one could use it to describe another angler who does not follow proper etiquette.
It may be someone who drills too close to you or tries to take your honey hole.
The equipment used to make an ice fishing hole also has particular names based on its uses, some formal and some informal terms for the same equipment.
An auger is the most popular tool to make a hole in the ice. Either manual or powered, augers are essentially large drills that will bore a hole in the ice.
Electric, gas, and man-powered augers are all popular options.
Drilling a hole in the ice is not the only way to make a hole; some prefer to use a chisel to chip out a hole in the ice.
This way is how Natives made holes in the ice before the introduction of augers, and it still works well for thinner ice.
Chisels can also be called spud bars and other tools, such as an axe, to chip and chop your way through the ice. Any method of removing bits of ice by sharply striking it can be chiseling.
Ice fishing holes have specific characteristics based on the environment and tools used; some aspects make a more successful hole than others.
Choosing the spot for an ice fishing hole is best done when you know where the good sites to fish the body of water are the rest of the year.
Vegetation, structures, and cover do not change much during winter and will still lead to good winter fishing spots.
Ice fishing holes can range in size, typically from 6 to 12 inches, although if you wanted, you could go bigger.
Eight inches is normally ideal because most fish will fit through this hole without being larger than needed.
If you are in an area with large fish, 10 inches might suit you better. On rare occasions, you might catch a sturgeon or other massive fish and need to drill additional holes to land the fish.
The depth of an ice fishing hole will depend on the thickness of the ice, and this will play a role in how difficult it is to drill the hole if you are using a hand-powered auger or chisel.
The thickness of the ice will also play a role in how much weight it can support.
4” is generally considered the minimum for ice fishing and walking on the ice, while 6” can support the weight of snowmobiles and ATVs.
8-12” will support small to medium-sized vehicles, and anything greater than 12 inches will support large trucks and anything else you might use.
Tip-ups– Also called traps, tip-ups are devices that automatically detect a bite, allowing anglers to fish hands-free or set up several different areas.
Shanty– A shanty is a general term covering any ice fishing shelter, including tents and cabins.
Having a shanty while ice fishing is not essential, but it adds a layer of warmth and privacy and makes long fishing trips easier.
Marking– Marking refers to any blips on an ice fishing flasher that indicate a fish near your lure.
Paying attention to marking will let you know if fish are interested in your bait presentation or if you need to change it up.
Spike– Typically, spikes are the larvae of bluebottle flies, but many anglers will use this term to refer to any larvae they are using as bait.
Spikes make fantastic bait for fish of any size, being small enough for any fish to bite and naturally occurring so that fish won’t be suspicious.
Dead stick– Dead sticking is a technique using a lure or live bait that involves the most straightforward presentation- doing nothing. Sometimes fish are in a picky mood, and doing nothing is the best option.
Jigging– On the other hand, jigging is probably the most common presentation choice for anglers, making your bait dance around in the water.
This movement mimics a dying fish and can trigger a bite from nearby fish or, at the very least, some interest in the activity.
Fishing is a sport that seems straightforward at first but quickly becomes a cluster of terminology referring to techniques, tools, and everything else involved.
All these fancy terms can be intimidating for those new to the sport, and ice fishing can be hard to understand all of the names.
Thankfully when it comes to the hole used when ice fishing, most anglers refer to it as an ice fishing hole or some close variation of that.
Other than that, different regions might develop their own slang for the ice fishing hole but rarely change the hole’s name.