Tricked Out Ice Shelters

By Nick Simonson

Some folks like to trick out their pickup trucks with lift kits, extra chrome, bigger tires and other accents.  In the summer, it’s not unusual to see boats with kicker motors, dual trollers at stern and bow, multiple sonar units, light strips and all the bells and whistles.  Adding on these conveniences and cool things not only makes using these vehicles more convenient day-to-day, but also more fun to be in.  The same holds true for ice houses, and in the developing market for on-ice accessories there are a number of ways to make portable sled and hub-style shacks better with very little investment.

A Place for Everything

Utilizing the space provided in a sled is easier with a few simple add-ins.  In particular, a console insert will provide convenient storage for tackleboxes, handwarmers, propane canisters and other must have gear that doesn’t need to be removed from the shack from trip to trip.  Console models from Clam and Otter are prime examples of sled storage, unique to each company’s models, that provide secure containment for all things ice fishing along with convenient cup or bait puck holders built right in.
Additionally, flip-over style shacks have a lot of overhead room that isn’t often utilized, and Otter’s line of hammocks and cargo nets help provide extra storage secured firmly to a portable house’s frame.  On top of those options, many companies such as HT tackle and Frabill, offer hook systems which can be easily deployed on both hub and sled shelter bars to elevate light sources, coats or other gear that needs to be kept high and dry.  Much like on boats, a magnetic tool holder by Clam also offers another option for easily accessible item storage.

A twelve-LED Frabill Light Bar provides ample illumination fora two-man flipover sled. Simonson Photo

Light It Up

With the expansion of LED lighting technology, a number of companies are helping anglers fish deep into the night.  Available in strings, bars or as circular fan/light combination options, these battery powered, rechargeable or 12-volt connectable lighting options provide more light while using less energy than ever before.  Where once the option of only propane powered lanterns and headlamps or flashlights dominated the evening ice, these efficient options have now taken hold and can be easily installed in any ice house.

Offerings include Otter’s Pro LED Light Kit with a dimmer switch to adjust to conditions, which loops easily around a support rod in the ceiling of any portable ice house.  Similarly Clam’s rechargeable LED Tube Light provides multiple means of keeping full beam strength and easy attachment to a sled-style shack’s supports.  Frabill’s Shelter Light Bar is specially designed to take an impact and keep on shining. A number of companies also offer LED light strings that can be powered by a battery and deployed on the ice to illuminate a fishing area, or above for whole-house lighting.

Lock It Down

In windy areas like the open prairie lakes of North Dakota, a set of ice anchors is a must have for any portable shack. Particularly for hub-style shelters which may buckle in breezy conditions, a set of anchors helps keep the hubs securely locked in position and prevents houses from collapsing and blowing away.  These anchors, in most cases, can also be tied off to the sled base of flipover shacks preventing drift in windy conditions as well.  Small and easily stored in a sled, they’re quickly screwed into the ice when gusts start to rise.

Finally, an answer has been found to the dreaded issue of shack skirt freeze-in.  No longer are piles of slow and slush from auger holes necessary to secure the fabric skirt around the tent portion of an ice house, and with their departure, so goes the hassle of chipping the material loose from the ice that forms by the end of the day.  In place of the elements comes the Snakor from Soderbloom’s. Waterproof fabric tubes from two- to eight-inches in diameter can be filled with sand and deployed around the base of the fabric tent, holding any model in place preventing heat loss like snow and ice piles would, without the effort of breaking free at the end of the day.

With these great additions, and many others out there and each individual company putting their own twist on them, anglers can trick out their portable shacks in ways never imagined before this season.

(Featured Photo: Fishing is more fun when everything is stored conveniently.  Get away from searching for stuff and back to finding fish, by adding some accessories to a portable shack. Simonson Photo)

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