Warmth on the Ice
Ice-Fishing Shanties from Practical to ExtravagantG.K. Sharman, Writer
Ice fishing can be an enjoyable pastime. Drill a hole in the ice with your auger, then lower your line into the unfrozen waters below. With a little time, patience and luck, a fish will bite. Reel in your bounty and dinner is served!
One hard-to-ignore problem, however, is that frozen lakes go hand in hand with below-freezing temperatures. That’s where ice shelters come into play.
An ice shelter, shanty or home is a portable shelter that can be placed on top of the ice to keep anglers warm while they fish.
Tent And Flip Ice Shelters
Basic models start with tent (hub or cabin) and flip-style shelters. Essentially pop-up insulated tents, they can be easily placed anywhere on the ice to shield anglers from the elements.
Tent-style ice shanties have room for two to three fishers (sometimes more, depending on the size). They provide protection from cold air and winds, and even allow for seating, storage and portable heaters. Some have floors with hatches that allow access to ice. Floors also provide a measure of insulation between the anglers and the cold ice below.
Flip-style shelters are usually built into a sled that can be easily pulled along the ice. When the fisherman finds a perfect spot, he can sit down on a built-in seat and pull the shelter over top of him. Flip-style shelters typically only house one person, although some are large enough to shelter several.
Slightly larger ice shanties look more like sheds or small shacks. Often hitched to a truck and transported out onto the ice via wheels or runners, some even fit into the bed of a pickup truck for easy transportation.
Ice shacks can be made of wood, metal or plastic and usually don’t break down/fold up for easy storage the way tent or flip-style shelters do. Many popular lakes have ice shelters like these available for rent.
RV-Style Ice Homes
To ice fish in luxury, consider a custom ice home, which is basically an RV designed to sit on the ice. The interiors of most RV-style ice homes can include beds, couches, kitchens, fireplaces, TVs, bathrooms (with showers), extendable rooms and, of course, hatches in the floor for ice fishing.
RV-style ice homes are pricey and also limit where you can go because their weight requires thicker ice. But if you want to enjoy winter fishing while sitting comfortably indoors with your family, RV-style ice homes provide a comfortable, vacation-like experience.
Always keep safety in mind when going ice fishing. Most ice shelters include requirements for how thick the ice must be for safe shelter use. Generally speaking, new, clear lake ice should be at least 5 or 6 inches thick to safely hold even a small ice shelter and several fishers. The Farmer’s Almanac publishes an ice thickness safety chart for reference.