Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Wheelhouse marketplace still sizzling hot


Late-season wheelhouse deals for camping, deer season, 2021 ice-fishing trips

By Dan Durbin
Contributing Writer


The first time I saw a wheelhouse at a local fishing expo I pretty much thought that someone really must have an ice-fishing sickness to spend that kind of money on a contraption that was really an ice fishing shanty on steroids. That was probably a decade ago. But when I really got to thinking about it, why not? If you’re going to go ice fishing why now do it in style, comfort, and luxury?


I mean, a person can drop $80,000 on a bass boat without even blinking an eye, so why not $30,000 (more or less) on a wheelhouse?


Tom McMahon, of Yetti Fish Houses, said because of demand, don’t expect many blowout deals on models this year from any manufacturer.


“We’re having a great year. COVID surely has led to some supply issues,” he said. “My biggest tip to people is to order your unit far before you think you’ll need it. You might save a little if you buy a holdover unit after 2022 models break, but if you really want a unit expect to wait at least a couple months.”


McMahon said that you won’t find much excess inventory because their dealers know what they are doing.


“Dealers do stock inventory,” he said. “Not everything is a custom order, but our dealers know their region. They know about how many they will see and what models are popular for their area. Many of our dealers have different inventory based on the type of fishing or needs in their area.”


Jason Jaeckels, of Glacier Fish Houses, said that it’s a misconception to think that wheelhouses are strictly seasonal dwelling that can be used only on ice.


“We are seeing more people buy them not just for ice fishing but for summer camping, a deer camp, you name it,” he said. “Husband and wives are on board because there are so many conveniences for the entire family.”


It used to be that 12- and 14-footers were the most-purchased sizes, but Jaeckels said that now 17- and 20-footers are the hot sizes.


“We started building the RV-style houses back in 2016 and that’s what people are wanting now,” he said. “Slide-out versions will be the next big thing for these houses.”


And why not? More room, TVs, furnaces, showers, bathrooms, bedrooms – they all add up to the ultimate man or woman cave whether on ice-covered lakes, in a campground during a fishing trip, or in the deer woods.


Jeff Drexler, of Ice Castle, has seen business grow for the brand since they started back in 1997.


“We started out with an 8- by 10-foot model, but now we have them up to 21 feet,” he said. “These basically have become RVs on ice.”


Despite having to shut down for a couple months because of COVID-19 concerns, business has been great, even during pandemic times. There really aren’t many “carryovers” from year to year and there a very few times of the year a person will get a “deal” on inventory.


“If you want one for next year, I’d order it in the next few weeks,” Drexler said. “We’re about 18 weeks out for getting a unit to someone once the order is made. Getting parts has been an issue so we are asking people to please be patient.”

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