Ice Fishing Shelters – Ice Anchors

January 2, 2012 by  

By Nick Simonson

The noise in the pines behind me grew until it sounded like a rushing spring waterfall on the North Shore.  I had been on the ice just long enough to set up my hub-style ice fishing shelter, drop my Vexilar transducer and land my first fish of the new year when the fabric around me began to shake violently.  Suddenly with a pop and a flash of white, I was rolling across my newly drilled holes as the heater, sonar and bucket chair toppled around me.  I looked up and watched the alternating red-and-black-and-red-and-black of my shack rumble across the frozen lake, propelled by a wind gust of at least forty miles an hour which had sprung up from the only moderate breezes I had experienced to that point.
Ice Fishing SheltersBewildered, I got to my feet and my legs began churning in a chase after my shelter, which had collapsed into a heap resembling a broken kite.  Despite being deflated, it still managed to hop up into the air two more times, extending my early-morning sprint across the snow-covered surface of the lake.  Finally, I set my boot down on the side of the shelter, caught my breath, and did what everyone else would do.  I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed the embarrassing event (not likely, considering it was 8:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day) and was relieved to see most of the houses around the lake were still dark and no one else was ambitious – or foolhardy – enough to be out on the ice.
Growing up on the plains of North Dakota, and ice fishing the lakes and sloughs of that region taught me how to cope with gusty winds.  It’s a fact of life in the upper Midwest that winter brings not only cold and snowy conditions, but also with them some very powerful winds. One way for anglers to deal with it is with a large, comfortable permanent shack, but I’ve never been one to settle in one spot on the ice, and with my desire for mobility comes the sacrifice of stability.  But there are a good number of things a person can do to secure a portable shelter in the wind and enjoy a fixed position on the ice when active fish are located.

Once I had recovered my shelter and folded it back up, I went back to my original position, righted my equipment and cleared the snow away from my fishing area.  I then set about piling up the slush into one big mound at the side of my six-by-six-foot square and popped my shack back into shape.  This time, I angled the shelter so that the wall did not face into the wind, but instead led with one of the corners, thus reducing the drag the shelter’s shape caused with each gust.  Next, I took four ice anchors and their four-foot tethers and secured them firmly in the ice and tied them tightly to the house on the loops at each side to provide added security.  Finally, I transported the slush from my large pile and packed it down on the fabric flaps at the base of the shack to add weight and form a heavy base to keep the shack in place.  With my efforts to secure the house completed, I settled in and hoped for the best.

With the wind continuing to rise around my shelter and near whiteout conditions on the other side of the lake as a result, I was secure in my spot by taking these few extra steps to combat the changing conditions.  While I would have preferred my usual flip-over sled-style shack, which is easier to secure with the same methods and has the added advantage of my body weight working to keep it stable, I was still able to enjoy a couple of hours of fishing for bluegills, crappies and a rogue largemouth bass that came up under the cover of my pop-up shelter while the winds whipped around me.  By being prepared for whatever winter throws at us, we can still remain mobile, find fish and have a successful trip – with just a few extra steps – regardless of the gusts that challenge us…in our outdoors.


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