Homemade ice fishing shelter design is never an easy task, lets take a look at some design elements to consider when building your shanty on the lake

Today a bunch of friends of mine and a number of other people were out ice fishing today. There were about six of us that are experienced ice angles and a few that are getting into it pretty seriously. Some of the guys that were fishing with us were talking about maybe building a fishing shack. So, after a long talk with some of my best ice fishing buddies on the lake today we figured out that we all think a little differently when it comes to homemade ice fishing shelter design. Today, Jan 18 there were five of us on the lake with our own homemade ice fishing shelters.

One of my friends and I built our shacks literally side by side in my shop. We did this out of a sort of necessity. We both prefer the ICE FISHING HOUSE style of shack. The reason that we both built shacks was that we could keep one shack at one body of water and another at another body of water.


In the area there are three fishing derby’s three consecutive week ends. I will take my shack to Lake Newell and setup early on a proven spot. My friend will take his to Badger Lake and setup his shack on a proven spot. Then we are already to go without much hassle derby day. We also use these shacks for hunting in the fall and hunt in entirely different areas.

Our shacks are both built on trailers that are lowered to the ice and are 8’ x 16’. My shack sleeps three people comfortably his sleeps four. Both have full kitchens, including an oven, Propane heaters, 12 volt lights and satellite television. Both shacks seat about nine people and have six fishing holes in each one. When you have use an ice fishing house people tend to gravitate to it. There are days when there are 15 people piled in there and only 5 are fishing.

I will fully admit that this is complete overkill when it comes to an ice fishing shack. When I fish I like to fish in style. I own an ice fishing shanty style shack as well that I built a few years back and I have an ice fishing tent as well. I use the shanty when I want to fish unfamiliar water that I know is safe to drive on or on water that I have to chase the fish down every so often.

One of the other shacks is an 8’ x 10’ ice shack design that is loaded onto a trailer then skidded onto the ice. No wheels. It has a wood stove and 8 holes in it. One window for light and that’s about it.

The other two ice shack designs out today were ice fishing shanty style shacks. One would fit six guys the other four. Each had no windows, a small propane heater and places to sit with one hole per person.


The conversation that we were having on the lake today was carried out in 5 different shacks. We seemed to gravitate to whatever one had the features or lack there of that we were discussing at the time.

After discussing the advantages and disadvantage of each design we started talking specifically about the most versatile ICE FISHING SHANTY design. Versatile in terms of how well it works from all aspects such as;Best Size
Moving it to the lake?
Moving it around the lake?
How fishable is it?
How comfortable is it?
Best storage solutions.
Safety
Basic overall efficiency


The ice shack can be any size imaginable from mini mansions on the lake to tiny little one person crawl spaces. For our purpose here I am going to discus our idea of the perfect two man ice shack design. A two person ice shanty should fit two grown men and their tackle comfortably when fishing. There must be enough room to handle your catches as well.

We collectively decided that the best size for a 4 man ice fishing shanty is a 4x8 base and a 6x8 main body.

homemade ice fishing shelter or shanty

This lets the shanty be transported in the box of a full size pickup truck if need be. Due to the size, a small trailer to haul the shack on would be the best method for transport in our opinions. A trailer of that small size would be very inexpensive to build, especially if built specifically for hauling your shack.

The entrance would be from the end of the shanty. I would also install some windows in the ends of the shack, that way you can check on tip ups without exiting the shack or releasing your heat into he world.

Homemade Ice fishing shelter outside look

The heater that you use in your ice fishing shanty should be located opposite the entrance. This will keep it out of the way and will keep people from contacting it when entering or exiting.

The fewer items that have to be taken to your shack from your vehicle when going fishing the better. I have a permanent place for a small square snow shovel for removing ice after drilling my holes and for removing ice and snow tracked into the shanty. I would have the holder for the shovel against the far end of the shack above and to the side of the heater, easy access and out of the way.

I also have rod holders near each hole so that you can put your fishing rod down to go out of the shack or to do whatever you need to do, without removing your hook from the water. Any thing that will keep your ice fishing rod out of the hole will work, I have PVC pipe mounted to the wall in my ice shack on one end and simple brass hooks on the other end, both ways work great.

Places for jackets are nice, we decided that installing hooks above and behind each fisherpersons seat would be the best place; these hooks could be for anything really. So long as the items hanging behind you don’t get in your way.We also would install hooks wherever we could that would be out of the way for items such as cooking items, Camera bags, etc.

You should always have covers for your ice holes; cover whatever ones are not in use. That way you wont loose fish, wallets, or sunglasses (I am sure I loose a pair a year) down the hole. You wouldn’t want to break your ankle either!

Ultimately the design you choose is up to you, these are merely suggestions from some fairly experienced ice anglers that have there own ice fishing shanties. Each and every one of use would do things differently; each of us has our own fishing style and methods. Each of us expects different things from our shacks. Obviously this is not a shack you would be saying out on the lake in, this shack is one designed for a specific purpose, effectively fishing the hard water.

Remember, your ice shack is your ice shack, design it and use it the way you want to. Just consider all aspects of the experience you want to have. As long as you can fish it effectively and comfortably is all that really matters.Different conditions require different configurations.

So, get out and catch some fish!

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