If you're serious about ice fishing, you want to have the best experience possible when you head out on the lake. A premium shack, tricked out like an RV, is definitely the way to go--no more sitting on overturned buckets in sub-zero temperatures! Here's a look at three components you definitely want to have in your ice fishing house to take your experience to the next level.
The best ice fishing shacks today are all sporting flat screen TVs--not just to catch the games over the weekend, but so you can hook up an underwater camera and see it on a bigger surface. With a solid camera system, you can find and view fish and then relive your best fishing moments on the big screen.
Things you want in your underwater camera system
- fish finding/sonar and imaging in one unit
- temperature and depth displays
- low light capability
- long battery life and battery voltage readout
- cable long enough for the depth of water you're fishing
- interference resistance
- ability to transfer the system to your boat in the summer using a transducer
- mobile device remote control via wifi transmitter (you can set up a satellite dish on the roof)
Of course, if you're going to spend the weekend in your ice house (or entice anyone else to go along with you), it needs to be warm enough to be comfortable. The best ice houses today have high-BTU furnaces with forced air heating. (Don't forget a carbon monoxide monitor and fire extinguisher.)
Insulated walls and window covers will keep out the chill of high winds. Think about your flooring too; durable carpeting is insulating, and if you have catch covers, no one will take an unexpected dip in your holes on the way to the loo. (Yes, the latest shacks have full bathrooms too!)
If you're going to the trouble of making your ice shack an enjoyable place to spend days at a time, why not go all the way and make it a four-season cabin? Add screens, a ceiling fan, or an AC unit, and you can use it as a summer fishing camp. Camouflage covers will let you drop it in the woods for a hunting base in the fall.
None of the above will do you any good if you can't drill holes easily and quickly. A premium ice house will allow you to have multiple holes going at once, so you need a high-end auger to get the job done right. You want one that's strong enough to cut through several feet of ice without being too heavy to handle or fatiguing on your eighth hole.
There are new battery-powered augers on the market now that cut as hard and fast as gas models but are quieter, less odorous, and more environmentally-friendly. While these have a relatively long battery life, you'll want to keep track of how many holes you've drilled on one charge and keep the battery warm in between uses.
You also need to keep your blades in tip-top shape, or you'll find yourself going nowhere fast when you try to drill. It's essential to have a professional blade sharpener (such as one from Al & Bob's Sports) go over your auger at least once a season to check for nicks and overall dullness--more often if you're out on the ice every weekend.
A professional blade sharpening job can keep the bevel on your blade at the right angle. Also, a pro will know how to use a strop to take off any burs that occur at the blade tips, which is where the real bite of the blade takes place. Timely augur blade sharpening can save money on replacement blades and save you from having to abandon a trip because your auger won't cut.
A great way to test out the newest equipment is to rent it, including the shack, for a weekend or two, so you see how it works for you. Before you know it, you'll have your own "ice castle" and be hauling in the walleye faster than you can fry it up in your portable gourmet kitchen!