I love to ice fish. I was about 8 years old when I started ice fishing with my father many years ago. We would fish several different local lakes in the metro area. We didn’t have an icehouse or a portable. We sat on a plastic bucket in the elements, used old jig sticks and used a hand auger to drill holes. One summer in the 1970s, he asked me if I wanted to build an icehouse. I jumped at the opportunity. We built one with a couple bunks. It was a bit too heavy, but we used it for several years and enjoyed it. As I got older I wanted to have a shanty for me and my family. We would shovel out a skating rink and play hockey. We flew kites on the ice and snowmobiled when the fish weren’t biting.
I bought my current icehouse about five years ago. It needed some finishing, and I wanted a bathroom attached. It has four bunks, is heated by a propane heater, and has two Humphrey gas lights. The shanty also has a large table for cards or cribbage. We store the shanty on the south side of Lake Mille Lacs.
I have fished some of the bigger lakes in Minnesota: Lake of the Woods; Red and Leech lakes; and Lake Winnibigoshish. But I wait in anticipation each year for my home away from home on Mille Lacs. We get out around Christmas or the first of the year when the ice is solid. There is nothing like the peace and tranquility of an overnight in the shanty, until the sound of the rattle wheel wakes the shanty. I love that sound when you pull up a walleye that explodes from the hole onto the hard water. I normally fish for walleye, but we are happy to have anything bite. Our biggest walleye to date was 29 ¼ inches and just over 10 pounds. It is mounted at our home. The coldest overnight was 27 degrees below zero. Inside the shanty, it was 70.
Having the shanty has been a great Minnesota and family tradition, and I can’t wait to get my grandson Cooper, age 2, out next season. Cherished memories!
Dan Borash, Cottage Grove