Before you can drop a lure through holes in the ice, you first must decide on where to drill those holes. The biggest point of perspective novice ice fishermen should grasp is this: Hard water season or open water season, fish need dependable food sources. Find the areas where baitfish and bugs abound and you’ll have your target zone.

In most lakes, this means vegetation for the early- and late-ice periods. Weed lines hold a bounty of forage for a variety of baitfish, all of which exist to feed those yellow perch, crappie and bluegill ice fishermen seek. The dense, green weeds with a crisp makeup — that’s the healthy habitat with lot of potential. Shallow bays are where you want to look for this scene.

Where vegetation is scarce, utilize your contour mapping to find those breaks lines that help fish corral baitfish.

A couple tips about hole drilling:

  • When searching broad areas, drill a series of progressively shallower holes in a grid form. This allows you to test various depths and once you establish an active zone, you can move spot to spot in that same depth. 
  • Watch the water that comes up when your augur breaks through the ice. Clear water means good visibility brought by good weed growth, while off-color water comes from darker, muddy bottoms.
  • Between uses, keep the blade guard on your auger — especially when it’s on a snowmobile rack. One awkward step, a trip or misplaced reach and your fishing trip can end with a trip to the ER.