With the disappearance of open water to a thin layer of ice, winter can be a frustrating season for many anglers. However, if it gets cold enough and that ice approaches five inches, then let the ice fishing games begin! Make sure you have a portable ice fishing shelter to make sure you stay ahead of the weather.
If weather conditions allow, ice fishing gear can consist of a minimum of a couple of ice fishing rods, an auger, and a bucket to sit on. However, winter often fails to play nice and so most anglers need some additional protection from the elements. In the far north, extreme cold can support small shed-like structures which are towed out on ice and for the next couple of months, may become part of an ice fishing shanty town on the lake. For the rest of the country, ice fishermen rely on some sort of more portable ice fishing shelters.
The key part of any portable ice fishing house is that it remains “portable.” This temporary structure needs to be movable from the truck to the middle of the lake and back while heavily bundled. I was given a homemade portable ice fishing shelter. It is constructed of plywood, tarp material, and lots of duct tape. It is so heavy that a tandem of sleds is used to drag the beast across the ice and it is just about all I can wrestle into the back of the truck.
Once my portable ice fishing house is set up, I’m fairly well committed to this small area. A lighter, ice fishing tent type structure may be enough of a shelter to block the wind and keep you on the ice. Plus, one of the best ice fishing tips I’ve learned is that consistent success on the ice often depends on being able to relocate. It may take several drilled holes to discover that deep channel, weed edge, or firm substrate that could be the key to some hot fishing action under these cold circumstances.
If you don’t yet have a portable ice fishing house and are rather new to the game, ask around. There may be a friend who will let you borrow one to try to find out if that type is right for you. Whatever portable ice fishing shelter you prefer, stay safe. Don’t fish alone, and check that ice depth because it probably isn’t a uniform thickness everywhere. And don’t forget to get your fishing license renewed to continue to have a happy New Year!
Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.