How to make an on-ice livewell for perfect live releases


Create your livewell before your start fishing


To create an ice-fishing livewell, simply auger a connected series of shallow holes (six to eight inches deep) and one deeper hole to provide the water source. The number and depth of your holes will depend on the size of the fish you expect to catch, but bigger is always best to ensure the entire fish is submerged.

You can bore the deeper hole all the way through the ice, allowing you to release the fish straight from the livewell. Or, you can slightly breach the bottom of the deeper hole with your auger’s centre-point bit so the well fills with water, but remains a closed system. In that case, you need to drill a secondary hole a few feet away to release the fish. Do all this before you begin fishing.


Once you catch a fish, carefully pull it from the hole—being particularly careful when handling the lunkers—and transfer it to your livewell. While moving the fish, support it with one open hand under the belly while carefully clasping the base of the tail fin with the other.