Ice Fishing

Let’s face it, during the cold winters in the northeast there isn’t a lot to do in a small town. You either ski, snowmobile, ice fish or get drunk. I suppose you could do all of them, however I choose to ice fish. I’m admittedly a bit new to ice fishing, only been doing it for 3 years or so, but I find it to be a good distraction from the miseries of winter.

The first thing I realized when I started ice fishing was that it’s a cold sport. Sitting outside on a plastic bucket on a huge chunk of ice with the winds howling at you unobstructed by anything is quite honestly a shitty time. So the first major ice fishing purchase had to be an ice fishing hut, or shanty as the elite ice fishermen call it. There seem to be three major players in the ice hut arena: Frabill, Clam and Eskimo. Sure there are more out there, but I’m relatively cheap and these three all offer free Prime Shipping on Amazon so that narrowed it down for me pretty quick.

I didn’t have too many requirements to be honest other than maybe the following:

  • Low cost (I’m cheap)
  • Enough room for 3 people (myself and two sons)
  • Bench seat (rather than bucket seats)
  • Side door (I didn’t like the idea of the door being in front of me where all my stuff was set up)
  • Lightweight (since you have to drag it all the way to your fishing spot)
  • Storage (needed enough room underneath the bench to store all my shit)

The biggest challenge was the requirement for a bench seat that fit 3 people.  Finding a hut with a roomy bench seat was far harder than I expected.  I’ve seen the huts that fit 2 people and they have little bucket seats.  I mean that’s cute and all, but most of the configurations wasted a lot of space in between the seats.  The only cost effective hut I could find with the bench big enough for 3 people was the “Frabill Fishouflage Ambush Ice Shelter with Side Door” shown below.  I purchased this on Black Friday for $399 where I can see now that it’s offered for $599 at Amazon.com.  If you can hold out for a sale, you’ll be able to save a good amount of money.  However this is one of those long term investment items that will last  you a long time and will make your ice fishing trips far less miserable, so even at $599 it’s not a bad deal.

It’s a nice lightweight hut at only 126 lbs and is easily dragged across the snow and ice. I mean I think it is, I have 2 sons so I make them drag it for me, but they seldom need breaks for water so it seems light enough. It’s also pretty roomy as you can see below.  With my 2 kids in there it still leaves plenty of room for their old man on the bench.  If you live in really cold or windy climates Frabill and some of the other brands do offer insulated versions of their shelters, but be sure to check the weight of those shelters.  Some of them approach 200 lbs and would be almost impossible to drag on the ice without a 4-wheeler.

I also like the fact that it is roomy in front of the bench for a few holes, some buckets, some tools and the fish finder, or as the fancy folk call it, a flasher.  Back in my day a flasher would get arrested, these days a flasher helps you catch fish.

The other thing you’ll see in the picture above is that as I mentioned, the doors to enter/exit the hut are on the sides, this way you can put whatever you need in front of you without have to worry about stepping over it and knocking things down into the ice holes to be lost forever.  Also noted how deep the area in front of you is.  In the picture, 3 of us are sitting on the bench, there are 3 holes and the items such as the bucket and lantern are back several inches and still have room to move.  This hut is fantastic in several aspects, but the roominess is by far the thing I like the most.

Let’s get back to the flasher.  I’m a bit of a video game junkie, have been since I was a kid in the 70s and 80s. What I found when I first started ice fishing was that on slow days it was a bit boring to say the least. I had been told by some friends that any good ice fisherman should be using a flasher. So started the investigation. I started by looking on YouTube to what what an ice fishing flasher was and was delighted to know it was almost like a video game. From there I went to Amazon.com and starting looking around, reading customer reviews, etc. After a few days of searching I narrowed it down to the “Humminbird ICE-55 Six Color Flasher with LCD” which at the time was going for around $499. Luckily this was after Christmas and I had a few Cabelas gift cards plus it was on sale for $449. In my cheap minded wisdom, I ended up paying around $250 out of pocket for it. That was a bargain.

I’m not going to lie and say that as soon as I started using the flasher I started crushing the fish. To be honest, catching bluegill is easy with or without the flasher. However, in the deper water it definitely helped me zero in on the walleye and catch those for the first time ever through the ice. Again, I’m new to ice fishing, so I’ve only caught a few walleye so far, but the flasher definitely helped. What’s awesome about it is that you not only see the marks on it that indicate the fish, but with a small jig tipped with a minnow on it, you can actually see your lure on the flasher. This allows you to place it just above the fish and hopefully trigger the strike versus sitting there fishing blind all day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

A mix of home improvement ideas, DIY projects, product reviews, compiled from years of owning my own home and refusing to pay anybody to do, build or fix anything that I couldn't figure out myself.