You say ice shanty, I say ice shack
Several weeks into this year’s ice fishing season, we were still trying to get our ice shack out on the river and were having a tough time of it. Well, in spite of the conditions, we finally have it set up. I’ve never seen slush so bad on the ice here, and it’s been a while since we’ve had snow this deep.
I have two winter fishing shelters – ice shacks, if you’re in the U.P., or ice shanties as they say below the bridge. I have a portable shack that I keep at a friend’s house for part of the season and in the back of my truck for the rest. And we have a bigger, hard-side shack that stays in one area for most of the season. We just bought it from some friends who used it for several years. It’s bigger, has plenty of room to hang your coats and use a spear, although we do spear fish out of the portable, too.
While both shacks have their advantages, the hard-side shack is a dandy. It’s big enough to fish three fishermen comfortably side-by-side, but light enough to move around if it’s necessary to chase the fish. It even has a mirror that is angled down the hole to let you watch your bait or decoy without getting a backache.
The downside of keeping a shack on the ice all the time is the maintenance. A dark-colored shack collects heat, usually, no matter how cold it may be, and it sinks into the ice surface. We spent about an hour the other day chipping the shack out of the ice and jacking it up on a couple 2×4 chunks before we could fish. The slushy conditions this year have made this task a bit more challenging.
But when everything’s going right, it’s a joy to have a lot of room, a big hole to watch for fish, and a great way to spend a long winter.