When people think of ice fishing, they often picture people sitting on coolers on ice, hunched over. People looking for protection from the elements can invest in a portable ice fishing shelter. In some areas, it is common to see ice fishing shelters dotting the middle of lakes.
An ice shanty is any shelter that is taken out on the ice and gives people who are ice fishing shelter from cold weather, snow, rain, and wind. Classic ice shelters are like houses, with seats, windows, walls, and a roof. The floor opens up to allow for fishing through the ice. Shelters generally have enough room for two or more people. Some have modern conveniences, such as heat, TV, or radio.
Ice fishing shelters are heavy, so the ice that they are set on needs to be thick. If the owner does not live near the water, the shelter needs to be transported to a boat launch. A shanty can be transported out onto the ice with a truck, four-wheeler, or large snowmobile. It also needs to be removed from the ice in the spring.
States, cities, and towns have regulations related to ice shelters. In many cases, they must be marked with the owner’s name and address and must be removed from the ice by a specified date.
People who want to try ice fishing can also use smaller, more portable one- or two-person shanties that can be dragged on and off the ice by hand. These shelters consist of a tent built onto a sled that can stand up to strong winds and is collapsible when not in use. It has a high-sided sled on the base and can be dragged while keeping snow out of the shanty. A smaller shanty has fewer amenities than a larger ice fishing shelter.
A shanty can be popped up around a hole in the ice. Ice fishing shanties are generally made of heavy-duty nylon that blocks the wind and can have clear plastic windows to allow natural light into the shelter. The ceiling is often made of a thicker material to trap body heat and keep the interior of the shelter relatively warm. Shanties have one or two seats. The tent extends out past one side of the sled to enclose both it and the hole in the ice to provide shelter for the people inside the shanty.
Smaller shelters are easy to move on and off the ice every day or move from one location to another to search for fish. They can be transported in a truck or large car without the need for a trailer. A larger ice shanty is a better choice if a more permanent shelter is needed, but it is more difficult to move.