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River Valley Outdoors
For many River Valley ice anglers, building and maintaining an ice fishing shack remains a yearly ritual – upgrading the shack each year and hauling it out on the ice becomes a tradition of sorts.
Most shacks remain in the same location for the winter, then the industrious angler tows the shack off the lake or pond before the ice goes out.
While I have enjoyed the comforts of fishing from many different handmade ice-fishing shacks, I still have yet to build my own. I also don’t think I’d like being limited to one fishing location. Most ice shack owners leave their shacks in one location, rather than going through the trouble of hauling it off the ice each outing only to drag it back out onto another pond or lake the next fishing trip.
I prefer the mobility of an ice-fishing shelter that folds up onto an easy-to-tow sled. I can toss the lightweight shelter into the back of my pickup and take it to any lake or pond I might decide to fish on a certain day.
The shelter I own, made by Clam Trap (clamoutdoors.com), has two seats with a solid plastic sled as a base. The plastic sled carries all my fishing gear, as well as a small Coleman Black Cat heater to add extra heat – just make sure to keep a little opening to provide a fresh air supply.
It takes less than five minutes to flip the frame and cover up over the sled to provide shelter from the wind and snow. Tag it down to the ice with some stout nails and the strongest winds won’t blow the sled around.
The little heater really warms things up, even if it’s below zero outside. Whenever heating an enclosed shelter, always make sure to avoid burning up all of the oxygen in the shelter by leaving a small opening. I keep the door wide open so I can keep an eye on the traps, and it still stays quite warm inside.
The key to successful ice fishing often lies in a good base knowledge of the body of water being fished, the proper use of the gear available, and some fresh bait to lure predatory fish into striking.
All the knowledge in the world won’t help an angler catch fish if they get too cold and give up. Staying warm and comfortable on the ice counts as a number-one priority for ice-fishing success – especially when the wind increases the discomfort of temperatures that get anywhere below freezing.