BoatUS ANGLER: Do It Yourself Department
Selecting An Ice Fishing Shelter
by Bob Jensen
Ice fishing is different things to different people. Some folks are out there with very serious intentions of catching fish, as many as possible.
Other folks like the social aspect of ice-fishing. They enjoy sitting in a warm shelter, eating deer sticks, sharing stories, and generally just enjoying time outdoors with friends and family.
Your choice of an ice fishing shelter is often determined by the kind of angler you are. If you like hanging out with friends and playing cards while waiting for a fish to bite, a permanent shelter might be more to your liking. You walk in, light the heater, and before long you're in shirt sleeves. That's fun stuff.
If you're really set on catching fish, a portable shelter is probably the route you should take. With the permanent shelter, you're kind of like anchored in a boat. If a fish comes by, you might catch it. But you've got to wait for them to come by.
A portable shelter allows an ice angler to go looking for fish, kind of like trolling in open water. Modern portable ice shelters are easy to pull from hole to hole, they are set up so an angler can conveniently keep sonar units, augers, rods, minnow buckets, and tackle boxes close by, and they're very comfortable to fish from.
When it comes to innovation in portable ice shelters, Frabill is the leader. Their new Glide Trax units can be compared to a pontoon on ice. They pull much easier and straighter than traditional portables, and the pontoons double as storage.
New this year from Frabill is the R2-Tec. The R2-Tec is the warmest portable shelter ever created. The additional warmth is created by an innovative shell that keeps warmth in the shelter, yet adds very little to the weight of the unit.
And then there are those truly hardy anglers who sit on a pail out in the open. These folks like to travel light. They'll pop a bunch of holes, then travel from hole to hole with their bucket, a depth finder, and a rod. These folks sit at a hole for a few minutes watching their depth finder closely. If they see a fish, they'll sit on the hole until it bites or moves on. If no fish are seen in a few minutes, it's off to the next hole. In the course of a day, these anglers catch a lot of fish.
That's the fun part of ice fishing - it can be whatever you want it to be. You can sit in comfort in a permanent house all day waiting for a fish to come by. Or you can sit in comfort in a portable shelter - the only time you need to go outside is when you want to move to a new area. Or you can sit on a pail, moving whenever your instincts tell you it's time to move.
I enjoy all three types of ice-fishing, but if I was limited to one technique, it would be the portable shelter. The comfort and mobility of portable shelters enable an angler to be warm yet productive, and that's a winning combination.
Bob Jensen is a noted Midwest outdoor writer and host of television's "Fishing The Midwest."
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