I’ve got to admit that, when my friend told me he was going to spin class to get into better shape, I thought some fitness instructor had finally realized they could torture people into shape by forcing them to use a hand auger.
For those who have never drilled a hole in the ice by hand, this assertion might come as a surprise. But as those of us who have chosen to use hand augers during the ice fishing season know, it’s not that far-fetched. We eventually develop a small degree of physical fitness using hand augers and then, as winter progresses, a larger degree of regret. Mostly because we never bought a power auger this year.
Frankly, using a hand auger is one of those forms of torture in which the pain increases in steady, gradual increments – it’s sort of like watching the Trump presidency, but worse.
For instance, at the beginning of the ice fishing season, when there is somewhere around four inches of ice, it’s basically painless. It hurts so little, in fact, that those of us who use hand augers frequently wear a smug look of superiority each time we pass other anglers towing heavy gas-powered augers. After all, when the ice is that thin, it doesn’t take more than a dozen turns with a sharp hand auger to punch through. And, often times, a person who is good with a hand auger can have two or three holes drilled before the person with the power auger had even got it started.
By February, however, things are very different. Then, the only reason you carry a hand auger is to make guys with power augers feel even better about themselves.
Yet, there is good news in all this. You see, over the years, I have found you can still utilize a hand auger to help you drill all the holes you want, even in 30 inches of ice or more. Provided you know how to use it correctly.
Here’s the technique I have perfected.
As soon as I get on the lake, I have a look around to where the young guys and gals with the power augers are. Then, I set up a respectful distance away – more than 20 but less than 50 metres is ideal.
The rest is really simple. You smile, wave at them in a friendly manner, and then start drilling a hole with your hand auger. The rest is a bit nuanced. Every time they look your way, you clutch at your heart, look to the heavens and yell, “Elizabeth! I’m coming to join you!”
Typically, this is all it takes.
Sometimes, however, it might also require you to curl up in the fetal position on the ice to get one of them to come over with a power auger and offer to drill a few holes for you – unless, of course, they are in the middle of a hot bite. In which case, you might have to wait.
The point is most ice anglers with power augers are only too happy to help a fellow ice angler. Mostly because they are uncomfortable watching a fellow angler resort to sobbing uncontrollably.
Right now some of you are probably thinking all this beneath the dignity of an experienced angler. And by some of you, I mean the inexperienced anglers in the group.
The truth of the matter is you can either do this or go over to the neighbouring group of anglers with hat in hand and ask politely for help. But, I think we can all agree, this would be humiliating.