Forget the intricacies of constructing the new Vikings stadium. Ditto the fix-up of the state Capitol. What Minnesotans really want to know is how to build the perfect ice-fishing house.
Lindy Frasl understands.
Frasl, 46, of Brainerd, a competitive bass fisherman in summer, built his first fish house when he was 14 years old. Measuring 4 feet by 8 feet and framed on skids, the house was great until ... he started thinking how it could be improved.
"You're always thinking how to build the next one,'' Frasl said. "I've built lots of them.''
Pretty good for a guy who is "handy'' but not a trained carpenter.
Frasl's latest version of the almost-perfect fish house measures 6.5 feet wide by 12 feet long with a 3-foot V-front. Like many -- perhaps most -- fish houses on Minnesota ice this winter, it's on wheels.
That way he can fish, say, Gull Lake one day and run up to Leech the next and Lake of the Woods the next, all while looking for panfish and walleyes amid familiar surroundings and comforts.
"We're taking it out to South Dakota next week,'' he said.
Retail, a "shack'' of this type might go for about $8,000 -- less, perhaps, if bought in the offseason. Frasl built his over the course of a recent summer and didn't keep track of all expenses.
"But I have maybe $4,000 in it,'' he said.
Frasl began his latest fish-house project by purchasing a tubular steel frame with a solid axle and crank-up system that allows the house to be lowered onto the ice for fishing and raised for traveling.
Onto this, using 2x2s, he framed his winter fishing house with an inside ceiling height of 6 feet, 8 inches.
Then Frasl wired it, with power provided by a portable generator and stored in two on-board deep-cycle batteries.
"I kept the house light enough and small enough to pull with my four-wheeler, so if I don't have my truck and generator along on the ice, I can still have power through the batteries for about 20 hours,'' he said.
Frasl also installed a thermostatically controlled camper-style forced-air furnace with ducting to provide even heat throughout. And he incorporated two bunks for overnight sleeping and fishing.
"Sometimes I'll have a couple of guys along on a trip,'' he said. "We'll use a cot if we need a third place for sleeping.''
Commercial wheel shacks often are sided with aluminum. But Frasl used steel -- slightly heavier, but cheaper, he said, and "easier to work with.''
"I think it's more durable, too,'' he said.
Around the base of the shack on the outside Frasl used diamond-plated aluminum as a rock guard. Inside, he insulated the walls, ceiling "and especially the floor,'' he said, and paneled it with popple, giving it a classy finishing touch.
"I also made the tongue of the frame detachable, so if I leave it on the ice overnight without being in it, which I occasionally do, I don't have to worry about it being stolen,'' he said.
End result: Frasl's "shack'' is practical, great-looking and comfortable.
But ... it can be improved, he said.
"The next one I build will be wider,'' he said. "I built this one 6.5 feet wide, in part because I wanted to be able to pull it onto the ice with my four-wheeler.
"But a wider house would be more comfortable.''