Ice fishing: On wheels and on ice, comforts of home

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 5, 2011 - 12:45 AM

Mobile ice-fishing houses that make luxury a priority are a burgeoning portion of the ice-fishing industry.


Sarah Coates Lange, general manager of Coates RV Center in Forest Lake, inside a Salem Ice Cabin, which is on display at the St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show, which ends today at RiverCentre in St. Paul. The pull-behind travel trailer doubles as a mobile ice fishing house.

Photo: Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Long a sport for the winter-hearty, ice fishing -- which just now is beginning for the season in far northern Minnesota -- might soon also attract those who insist on warmth and (relative) luxury with their cold-weather walleyes, crappies and sunnies.

That's the impression a visitor takes from the St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show, which concludes its three-day run Sunday at RiverCentre in the Capitol City.

What began not many years ago as an experiment in mobile fishing houses built on retractable wheels has blossomed into a business with many competing manufacturers, each seeking to upgrade winter anglers to amenities unknown to previous generations.

Sarah Coates Lange, general manager of Coates RV Center near Forest Lake, which sells Salem Ice Cabins, says winter anglers have provided a big boost to her recreational vehicle trade, which typically slows in winter.

"The Ice Cabins have been very, very popular,'' Lange said. "They're made to RV specifications, and we outfit about half the units we sell with air conditioners, so they can be used in summer as travel trailers.''

Manufactured by Indiana RV builder Forest River and owned by investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Co., Salem Ice Cabins range from 14 to 20 feet, with show prices from about $11,000 to $16,500.

Other mobile winter-fishing house builders also are at the show, including Ice Castle ( of Montevideo, Minn., the largest manufacturer of ice "homes,'' with sizes ranging to 24 feet. Custom Cottages (, which builds "hunting, fishing, camping mobile shelters'' of aluminum alloy frames and shells, is there, too.

Lighter, less expensive and more portable fabric fishing shelters manufactured by Clam, Eskimo and Frabill (plenty of each are at the show) offer winter anglers more flexibility in their hunts for fish through the ice.

And Canvas Craft (www., headquartered in the northwest suburbs, is exhibiting fabric fishing shelters whose walls and ceiling include Thinsulate insulation. Noteworthy is its Northlander All Terrain Trailer ($2,795), which converts from ATV hauler to ice fishing shelter, hunting blind or utility trailer.

Other neat stuff at the show:

• Prices continue to fall on underwater cameras, with low-end models in the $275 range. In not too many years, these are likely to be used as commonly as sonar units are now.

• The Wilcraft Amphibious Sportsmen's Vehicle ( -- a wheeled, motorized ice fishing machine that floats -- offers a measure of safety many ice anglers will appreciate.

• Catch Cover products ( of Brainerd are cool, from the original hole covers used in wheeled ice fishing houses to the multi-flex rod holders that can be employed either in hard-sided houses or fabric portables (they clamp on aluminum support poles).

• Kolpin of Fox Lake, Wis. (, manufacturer of innovative ATV accessories, also is at the show, with ATV holders for ice augers, plastic buckets, compact gas tanks and other winter necessities.


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Cincinnati - LP: J. Broxton 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: T. Watson 2
Minnesota - LP: T. May 1 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 9
NY Yankees - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3
Philadelphia - LP: J. Diekman 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 4
Boston - WP: A. Ranaudo 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Archer 4
Miami - LP: C. Hatcher 2 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 5
Cleveland - WP: D. Salazar 6 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 7 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: S. Carroll 1
Texas - WP: S. Baker 13 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: N. Ramirez 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: P. Neshek 2
Colorado - LP: R. Brothers 2 FINAL
Arizona - WP: B. Ziegler 5
Oakland - LP: J. Lester 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 4
Los Angeles - LP: K. Correia 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 3
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 8 FINAL
Seattle - LP: F. Hernandez 3
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 2 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: R. Vogelsong 13
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
Arizona 58
Penn State 7:30 AM
Troy 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 11:00 AM
Western Mich 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 2:00 PM
West Virginia 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 2:30 PM
Marshall 2:30 PM
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Houston 3 FINAL
Sporting Kansas City 1
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota 71 FINAL
Phoenix 85
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question