Thursday, November 17, 2022

Auger Review: Which is best for Your Situation?

The world of ice fishing has changed so much in the past twenty years that some do not even recognize the sport anymore. Gone are the days of a couple of poles, a handful of jigs, a five-gallon bucket and a hand auger. Today’s ice angler has as much or more than anglers fishing from a boat. Multiple poles are rigged up, rod lockers, electronics and power augers are standard to most anglers on the ice. The one standard piece of equipment, without it ice fishing would cease to exist, the ice auger has changed the most over the past couple of decades, and has left today's ice anglers with many choices to fit their style of fishing.
You could say the ice auger is the most important tool of ice angling, however most anglers do not give much attention to them. Obviously, everyone needs one to get the day started, but which one is right for you? Perhaps you own several of them and use them for different reasons. To say there is one perfect answer for what you should spend your money on would not be just. Let’s dive into the topic and look at the pros and cons of each type of auger; hand auger, gas auger, propane auger and battery power, and drill augers.

Hand Auger: The only benefit to a hand auger is the price. Many companies make a hand auger version, which is exactly that, you use your hands to operate the auger to drill the holes. It is great to start out with, and if you don’t move a lot while ice fishing you may not need anything else. If you are dredging yourself and gear out on the ice in the middle of winter, you are probably more than capable of drilling a hole in the ice with a hand auger. However, the amount of energy and time it takes throughout a long day of fishing can and will wear you down. This is the biggest deterrent for anyone using a hand auger. They take too much time, and ice shouldn’t be a workout!

Gas Auger: The gas-powered auger really changed the game of ice fishing about twenty years ago when more and more showed up during the winter. More and more people started using gas augers, which at the time was the next evolution of augers on the ice. There are still gas-powered augers out there, you can hear a few fire up across the lake on any given day. They offer anglers a chance to drill dozens and dozens of holes on the lakes and rivers they fish each day. The overall weight of a gas auger was overlooked because of the cutting power it possessed. Cutting through two feet of ice is never a problem with these powerful augers, a huge benefit to these machines. Leaking gas lines and gas tanks seem to be a common theme when dealing with gas powered augers, as well as always having the oil and gas mixed ahead of time. Another downfall of the gas-powered auger is the weight of the machine. If you are pulling your gear out on the lake and have a long walk, you may think twice about buying a gas-powered auger in today’s world. If you have a small vehicle to pull your ice fishing items such as a snowmachine or four-wheeler, then it really doesn’t make any difference. Gas spilling and leaking onto ice shacks and clothing are also another reason anglers have looked to other methods of drilling holes in the ice.

Propane Auger: In the early 2010s the gas-powered auger got some competition. Jiffy and Eskimo came out with a propane powered auger that uses the small 1-pound propane cylinders. These augers have plenty of power without the mess of gasoline and are a popular substitute for gas engines on the ice today. Lakes in the lower half of Iowa rarely see/hear a gas or propane auger due to the lack of ice that grows beyond 18 inches. However, in the northern half of the state where the ice will be nearly two feet thick for a month or more, these augers shine. These augers excel when the ice is thick, and a 1-pound cylinder will have your drilling holes all day long. The downfall, like the gas-powered augers, is the weight. You do not want to be lugging either of these power augers too far on the ice unless you have a machine to haul them in. In my mind the propane augers are much better than the gas options simply because they are clean, and you do not have to worry about gas or anything leaking. These types of augers are a great option when the ice grows thick.

Electric Augers: Several years ago, another version of the ice auger was brought to the market, the electric auger. Again, technology has made everything in our lives easier and this is just another example of that. An electric auger uses a lithium battery to power a motor to turn the auger blade just as in the gas or propane auger. They look very similar, but the electric augers will weigh quite a bit less. This makes it easier to tote around by hand and hop from hole to hole drilling out a section of ice to look for your favorite fish. Lithium batteries are not cheap, nor are the specialized chargers to recharge the battery, so the price on these augers is really the only “con” there is. They are a great cutting tool for the angler that walks on out on the ice or has a machine to pull your gear. These augers have gotten more and more popular the past few years, especially in the northern part of the state where the ice reaches over 18 inches for a large part of the ice fishing season.

Drill Augers: Last, but certainly not least, actually quite the opposite as these are the most popular auger in the state of Iowa currently. The drill auger has literally taken over as the number one choice of augers on the ice. Most families have a nice drill, yes the same drill you would use to drill a hole to hang a picture in your house, which makes this the most affordable “power auger” you can buy. If you already have a drill powered by lithium batteries then you only need to buy the actual auger part. There are many companies that sell their best version of this ice auger and all vary a little bit. By using your drill, you simply attach the auger to your drill like a drill bit. You tighten it on and suddenly you have an ice cutting machine! These are by far the lightest version of any power ice auger you can buy. If you do not own a 1/2inch, 18volt drill, then this may not be the best buy for you, as you could buy the before mentioned electric auger for about the same money as a new drill, batteries and auger combo. Prices vary from company to company and store to store so that is something to consider when buying. There are a couple of downfalls with this auger; you do need to use common sense when operating them. You cannot leave your drill on the wet ice, or in the snow, and you also need to pay attention to the drill so you are not overworking the motor and burning it up. Another downfall with the drill augers is the number of batteries you may need. If you drill less than 50 holes per day in a foot of ice, this auger is ideal, however if you are drilling 50 holes in 2-feet of ice, you are going to need a lot of batteries. Overall, there is a reason that most ice anglers use this method of drilling holes in the ice; simple, low cost and lightweight is hard to beat.

Another consideration: If you are looking into purchasing an ice auger for the upcoming season there is one more thing that you must look for. No matter what auger you chose, many models will come with a metal auger or plastic/composite auger. This will affect the overall cost of the product and the overall weight as well. If you are traveling on the ice with a machine it really doesn’t matter, however, if you pull your gear on the ice, you will want an auger with a plastic or composite auger. The actual operation of the auger is no different, but the weight and ability to move around the ice quicker and more efficiently is a night and day comparison.

The season is upon us, do everyone in your fishing party a favor by sharpening those blades. This will make your work easier and keep your equipment running for many years. Be careful out there, always travel in a group, have a rope, flotation device and ice picks ready, and I hope you never have to use them!

Monday, November 7, 2022

Indee Bass Club Annual Year-End Awards

Coach Reed/Cal Sweeney/
Ranger Reed/Jackson Beatty
The Indee Bass Club held its Year-End Banquet recently to hand out some final awards and to look back at this historical season.  2022 brought many accomplishments for the students and the club as a whole.  The group started the year by taking 3rd Place at the Iowa High School Bass Team Championship at Pleasant Creek Lake.  In September, club anglers Justin Schmadeke and Hunter Patton won the Iowa Bass Nation State Championship in the High School Division, at the same event Jackson Beatty and Gable Eddy won the Junior Division Championship.  The same event saw Carter Cameron claim the Biggest Bass of the State Tournament.  In early October, the Indee Bass Club won the first ever Iowa High School Bass Club Battle at Lake Delhi, competing against the Cedar Falls Fishing Team.  It was a great year for the Indee Bass Club, one worth celebrating!

The annual awards banquet saw many bass club families come together for a fun evening of looking back at the many opportunities the students of the Independence area had this past year.  Each month, from April through October there is an event planned by the club’s volunteer coach, Todd Reed.  Any student in grades 7-12 can participate at no charge at these events, which is made possible by the club sponsors; Colony Plumbing Heating/AC, Klever Concrete, Bank Iowa, Buchanan County Wildlife Association, Scheels, Hank’s Live Bait and Tackle, Quantum Rods/Reels, The Rod Glove, X-Zone Lures, and Hot Rod Baits.  These events offer students a chance to get out fishing with friends and adults to learn about bass fishing, the laws of fishing and how to take care of our resources.  The club was able to give away over $2,000 worth of fishing gear to students throughout the year at the club events.  At the awards banquet there were still four more year-end awards to give out.

The Big Bass of the Year was caught by Carter Eddy.  He caught the 4.54-pound largemouth bass at the Pleasant Creek Lake tournament.  He caught it on a spinnerbait.  This bass is also the new all-time club record for largest bass ever weighed in.  Carter received a plaque to commemorate this accomplishment.  

The Angler of the Year awards were the final three awards to hand out for the night.  The Angler of the Year is given to students that accumulate the most points at each of the four club events.  If a student finishes a tournament in first place, they receive ten points, a second-place finish is awarded nine points, third place gets you eight points and on down the standings in one-point increments.  The points are calculated in all four events and awards are given to the top three anglers each year.

In third place this year was Freshman Cal Sweeney, he also finished third place in 2021. When interviewed, Cal had these things to say about his year: “I believe going to all the tournaments really helped even though I did not get a limit at all the tournaments, the points gathered throughout the year added up.  I like to use swim jigs, crankbaits, and plastics.  My favorite rod/reel combo is one that I won last year and one of the club tournaments. It is a Quantum Accurist rod and bait caster reel.  My best tournament of the year had to be the Pleasant Creek Lake tournament with Hunter Sherwood.  We had lots of fish in the boat and overall was a great day to fish.”  When asked about what character trait helped him earn third place in the Angler of the Year race, he said, “I think patience helped a lot with fishing, not only when you are not catching fish, but also on cold days when you sometimes have to fish slowly.”  Cal had a great year, weighing in bass at each of the four events, he finished in 6th, 3rd, 2nd and 5th.

Coming in at the Runner-Up spot in 2022 was 8th Grader Jackson Beatty.  Jackson spends a lot of time fishing throughout the season, which no doubt helped him to great finishes.  Jackson says,” Going out and finding patterns in fish and what depth, bottom, and structure they are in or hanging around is fun.  The most successful lure this year for me was the tube jig. Having that crawdad imitation is a good option in any structure or bottom.  My favorite rod/reel combo is my 7'3" heavy rod paired with a Shimano Curado.  My favorite tournament this year was the state tournament in September on the Mississippi River. That day was good for numbers and quality which is critical for a big bag.”  When asked about his most important character trait to be successful on the water, he didn’t hesitate, “The trait that helped me this year on the water was my determination. Some days fish will come right away, and some days fish won't come until an hour left in the tournament.”  Jackson finished the season with finishes of 7th, 1st, 6th, and 1st earning him the 2022 Runner-Up Angler of the Year.

The 2022 Angler of Year is Freshman Ranger Reed, he finished Runner-Up in 2021.  This angler has been very consistent in the past three years, never finishing below 5th place.  When asked about his recent successes he shared the following, “You have to fish all of the tournaments and you have to place high in the tournaments. If you do not catch any keepers, you get 0 points for that tournament.  You must avoid that at all costs.  This year I used a Wacky Rig and Spinnerbait to catch keepers.  I also used a lot of other baits when practicing.  My favorite rod/reels are Quantum Rods and Reels.  I liked the tournament on Lake Delhi the best, even though it wasn’t our best finish.  I like it over there in October because the lake is really scenic, and I learned a lot at that tournament about where the fish were living.”  When asked about his best character trait, “I always tried my best and never gave up. My partner for every tournament was Carter Cameron, he always tried his best and never gave up too.  You have to just keep working at it and your goals will come true.”  Ranger had finishes of 2nd, 2nd, 5th and 4th earning him the 2022 Angler of the Year award.  

This concludes the 2022 Bass Club season, a huge thanks to the sponsors of the club and the captains that are a vital link in getting kids out on the water during the events.  Students will continue to meet once a month to plan for 2023 and learn more about the sport of bass fishing.  Please find the Indee Bass Club on Facebook, Instagram and their webpage for more information and pictures.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022


October and November, when timed correctly can be the best fishing an angler does all year long.  This translates for bass, walleye and panfish.  I have grown to love this time of year and use every chance I get on the weekends to soak it up.  I typically go for bass during this stretch, as I know I will get my fill of panfish once the ice season starts. 

Bait selection this time of year is critical, and will "make or break" your day on the water.  Water temperatures in the fifties and high forties are ideal for jerkbaits and crankbaits.  Understanding the mood of the fish will allow you to match that mood to the speed of your lure.  When things get colder or the current weather does not have them biting a crankbait, then it is time for a tube, or smaller, slower offering.  Let the bass tell you what speed your lures should be going, and you will have a great day!