The Right Ice Shanty Can Make a Cold Winter Feel Like Summer!
Winter brings many things like snow storms, icicles, skiing, snowboarding, and the best of all, ice fishing. If you’ve never had the chance to huddle in an ice shanty and do some ice fishing, you’re missing out on one of the finest winter sports. Yes, ice fishing is a sport… with beer! There are annual festivals all over the world for ice fishing. There’s even a contest for the best, Crib’s Style Ice Shanty.
Well maybe not Cribs, but people do some amazing things to their shanties.
In the northern US states, there are thousands of people who can’t wait for the ice to form so they can get out on the frozen lakes and kick off their ice fishing season. As soon as there’s enough ice, it’s time to hookup their fishing shack to the back of their trucks and move onto the lakes. Once they’ve found that perfect spot, their shack may stay in that spot for the entire season if the fishing is good, fingers crossed! For some people, every spare minute they have is spent fishing during ice fishing season.
It’s a way of life and something special for us who are privileged enough to know about it. One thing is for sure, if you’re going to ice fish, you’re going to need a place to warm up. The way we do that is by using an ice shanty.
What is an Ice Shanty?
An ice shanty is a portable ice fishing shelter that can be made from heavy material such as wood or metal. Other shanties are made from lightweight material such as vinyl, canvas, and denier fabric. Their main purpose is to shelter fisherman from the rages of winter while fishing. Some of the hand made shacks are like small houses. You name it! Satellite TV, stoves, lighting, AC, and even bunks. They can sometimes be more like a mobile home than a “shack”.
Whatever your style, there’s one for you. In the United States, ice fishing is more of a social event than in some other countries around the world. In places like Wisconsin and Minnesota, there are hotels, B&Bs, and resorts who own ice houses. They’ll do all the work while you focus on ice fishing. It’s really a great way to fish if you don’t own all the gear you need.
They’ll transport you out in the morning and bring you back at sundown. You can fish to your heart’s content. However, you don’t need a hotel or fancy resort to join in the fun on the lake. As long as you have your license, gear, and a place to warm up, you’re ready to rock! In Alaska, ice fishing and whale hunting for the Eskimos are a matter of survival.
Interesting fact: For the Eskimos to hunt whales in Alaska, they are required to use hunting methods dating back 600 years. The Eskimos start by putting together a base camp on the ice. Once their ice shanty town is set up, they prepare to get ready for the hunt. They use a hand made spear and boats made from seal skin to hunt the whale which can be the size of a train engine.
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They aim their boat directly at the center of the whales head because the whale’s head is so massive, it can’t see the boat coming. Once they’re over the whales head, they have to stab the whale in the spine and quickly get out of the way. There’s a rope connected to the spear on one end and a barrel on the other so they can track their hunt by watching the barrel float in the water.
Powered boats are called in quickly after the spearing to retrieve the whale. It’s sad to see in a way, but it’s amazing that the Eskimos go out over ice cold water on a seal skin boat and hunt a whale using a tooth pick. Talk about the ultimate Ice Fisherman. I just want to note that nothing goes to waste from the whale. Got a little sidetracked there, but it’s an interesting way of life. The fact that a an ice shanty makes it possible for them to survive the Arctic, and then the winter as as a result makes it incredible.
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Ice Shanty Considerations
Choosing the right ice shanty is not as easy as you would think. Since mobile ice fishing has become more popular, ice shanties now come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. Size, portability, and material are very important considerations when choosing your ice shanty. The size of the ice shanty may be the most important aspect to think about. If you like to fish with friends which most of us do, the question is; how many of my friends can I bring along? Of course there are those beautiful days when you don’t need an ice fishing shelter at all, but when the weather turns, it’s nice to have a warm (but not too many people warm) place to go.
With size, mainly referring to custom built heavy material shanties, portability becomes as issue. You’ll need a way to get your ice fishing house to the lake and a way move around it when it’s on the lake. A 4×4 truck, snowmobile, or 4 wheeler will be necessary to move a larger ice shanty around.
If you live on a lake, it’s a no brain-er to have a mac daddy ice shanty for various reasons. If you don’t, there are many large portable ice shanty options. Note: If you’re new to ice fishing, it’s important that you stick close to where other large shanties are, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the lake and decide to build or buy a large shelter. If you’re a fisherman on the move or just looking for a little quiet time to yourself, a one or two person fishing hub may be the answer.
You’ll want to think about how much fishing gear you can store and use in your ice shack though. The more space, the better. Add two buddies, buckets, and beer, it could get real cozy in a shack too small for your needs. You can probably sense my bias here, I think a three or four person ice shanty is a good starting point for ice anglers. It’s nice to be able to move with the fish and try different lakes. A portable ice shanty is just that, portable. You can move it from one spot to the next, one lake to another as often as you want and only spend a few minutes tearing down and setting up your shelter. It sure beats moving a heavy material shanty around. There’s even a portable house by Eskimo Ice Shelters that folds into a sled with storage, and unfolds to shelter with built in bench seating.
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What Type of Material for an Ice Shanty
If you’re an avid fisherman, you’ll need a winter hut that is warm and comfortable. There’s no sense in freezing to death while indulging in your favorite hobby.
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We’ve already covered home made ice fishing houses in the above section for which there are many ice shanty plans available on the internet if that’s the direction you want to go.
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A lot of the portable ice shanties on the market today are made from either 300D or 600D Polyester. Three hundred denier polyester is a lightweight material, whereas 600 denier polyester is a heavier duty material. 300D Polyester is quite a bit thinner than the 600D.
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It’s definitely lighter if you’re carrying it around while trekking through snow. It’s usually less expensive too. 600D polyester is approximately twice as durable as the 300D, but weighs and costs more.
They’ll both get the job done. You’ll also see vinyl and canvas used to make a portable ice shanty. We hope understanding the purpose and applications of the ice shanty helps you decide which shelter is best for you.