Ok, so maybe you haven’t ice fished for a while. Maybe you used to when you were younger but as you got older and life got busier, you have had less time to ice fish. Maybe you have started a family, and that can take much of your time. But having children is also an excellent reason to get an ice fishing shelter and start fishing with the kids.
Do you remember the first time your dad took you ice fishing? Maybe you didn’t even have an ice shelter, you just drove out on the ice and drilled a hole and started fishing. As your father may remind you, fishing without an ice shelter is hard, even harder trying to keep your kids warm and the ice hole open. All the more reason to get an ice shelter. In an ice shelter you can keep the kids warm, the ice hole open and all the equipment from freezing up.
There are several types of ice shelters. When I say ice shelter, for the most part I am referring to the portable type where as the type you may build or rent I would call a ice shack fish house, but that’s just me.
My favorite type of ice shelter are the sled types that you are basically a big plastic tub like slide with the tent portion of the shelter mounted on them. These shelters allow you to load your gear in them an pull them out on the ice. My son used to like to ride on the seat and yell mush. Now he’s big enough to pull! Once you find your spot, drill a couple of holes and flip the top over, it is kind of like a convertible, and your fishing. Most of these units have built in seats and are quite comfortable. They do have a couple of drawbacks, like usually only seat 2 or 3 and they tend to slide around on the ice, especially if there is not much snow. These are by far the most popular type of ice shelter you will see today.
Another type is more like a tent with a floor. You basically unfold the base and set up a few tent poles and you are ready to go. These types of ice shelters many times offer more elbow room than the sled type, so if you take a couple of kids with you this may be a better choice. These types of ice shelters can be purchased with plywood floors, but I think the plastic ones will last a bit longer.
If you are creative, you can even build your own portable ice shelter. I have built a couple over the years using cheap tarp for the tent part, but most of these ice shelters only lasted one year. If you take your time though and search out better materials and make sure the wood is properly treated, these units can last for years. Cabellas used to handle a kit that came with the fabric and poles, you just added the plywood floor. I am not sure if the still handle it, but it was easy to build and was nice project before the ice was ready.
Whatever ice shelter you choose, if you take you kids ice fishing with you, the memories will last both of you a life time.