It’s time to remove those ice shanties
When I was a teenager, my father had the caretaking duties of a small, family hunting camp not far from our home in the eastern Adirondacks. The property sat adjacent to what then was a Boy Scout camp that had a pond full of yellow perch. Back in those days we had access to the Scout camp, and one guy we called “Crazy Dave” who hunted with us got permission to put his ice shanty on the pond each winter.
Many good times were had fishing around that shanty over the years. Several times my father and I, or my Uncle Jim who lived next door, would ride into the hunting camp on snowmobiles, shovel the roof (if needed), then visit Dave at the shanty. Or, we simply went ice fishing.
One year Dave had an issue. The inconsistent weather had resulted in his shanty being frozen in the ice, despite the fact he had it on blocks. Dave, my father, Uncle Jim, myself and a few other guys went up there one sunny March day to hopefully rescue the shanty. Just as it is now, March 15 was the day ice shanties had to be off New York waters, and time was running out.
The shanty was only a few hundred yards from shore and my dad brought the snowmobile to tow it back. But, with my dad on it, it wasn’t easy for the sled to get through several inches of slush to the shanty. Once we got there, the spuds and even a few old woodsplitting mauls came out, and eventually we got the shanty freed. Now we had to move it.
Fortunately, the shanty had ski-rudders. Being the smallest, I was assigned to drive the snowmobile while the rest of the guys pushed the shanty. It was tough work for them, but we eventually got it off. I was on the shanty removal party a few other times over the years and a point was made to get the shanty to shore while the ice was still smooth and solid.
Depending on where you are, there’s still some ice fishing going on in New York and I’m willing to bet there’s also a few shanties out there whose owners are pushing the March 15 deadline for removal of those shelters. From what I’ve seen, ice conditions in my region are somewhat like that I experienced so many years ago courtesy of the fluctuating temperatures.
The good news is, in my area at least, you just don’t see too many solid-structure shanties anymore. Portable shanties have taken over and allow anglers to take the comfort and convenience of a shanty wherever they want. In fact, mobility is the mantra for most ice anglers.
Still, there’s something about a good, old-fashioned ice shanty that’s appealing. They’re icons on the ice, no two are the same, and if you’ve got a favorite spot you routinely fish, the convenience can’t be beat. They do, however, come with some baggage in the form of maintenance, storage and getting them on and off the ice.
And that time is coming fast.