Ice fishing is the most popular outdoor winter activity in much of the northern United States and Canada. The basic idea behind ice fishing is to wait until a lake is frozen over thick enough to hold a significant amount of weight, and drill a hole in the ice to catch fish out of. At first glance, one would think that such an activity requires fairly little preparation, but experienced ice fishermen know that an auger and a fishing line is not all a person needs when going on an ice fishing expedition. Among the many things most ice fishermen take with them are a sled and a shelter, or shanty. The sled is used to slide all the other equipment out to the site, and the shelter is used to protect the fishermen from the brutal winds of a northern winter. Sometimes, a crafty individual will attach these two ice fishing essentials together, making a more mobile shelter that can also perform all the functions of a simple sled.

Things You Will Need

There are several methods of combining your ice fishing sled and your shanty. If you are inclined to spend money rather than build something yourself, you could simply buy an appropriate sled and a collapsible ice fishing shelter specifically designed to fit that type of sled. There are a variety of sleds to choose from, but the best for fitting to ice fishing shelters share some common features, including a deep bottom to carry a good-sized load of equipment, a flat brim to attach the shanty, and enough surface area to accommodate as many people as you plan to have accompany you on your expedition. Generally, ice fishermen use calf sleds, but any lightweight, plastic sled with the appropriate features will do. Once you have your sled, all you need is a suitable shelter. These come in many shapes and sizes, so make sure to buy one that will fit on your sled. One problem with using this method is that the plastic sleds you can buy at the store have no hole in the bottom, so you would have to drill your hole in the ice outside the shelter, eliminating the possibility of you doing your actual fishing in the comfort of a warm environment.

If you have a smaller budget, but still want to enjoy all the fine pleasures of ice fishing, you could build your own sled shanty. The advantages of this method are that you can choose your own design, and you don't have to spend as much money as if you simply bought all your supplies at a sporting goods store. Depending on how good your design is, however, you may not end up with a shelter that can collapse as well into an easily transportable bag as some of the commercial models. The basic design should include four wooden or metal poles, one attached to each corner of your sled, and a water-resistant tarp wrapped around the poles to create an enclosure. Another flap should be attached to the top of the enclosure. The tarp should then be attached to three sides of the sled (all except the front, which will be used as a door) using screws or some other strong connection to prevent wind and snow coming in through the bottom. You should then poke holes in the corners of the front flap to tie pieces of string to, which can be used to tie the flap shut when you are inside the shelter. Everything should be attached together firmly because the wind can sometimes be rather powerful, although it matters little what you use to make the connections. If you do it right you won't even need any ice fishing gloves!

Tips & Warnings