Ice fishing addictions can be pricey

I said earlier this week I’m not an avid ice fisherman. I do like to go, but I’m not like many of my friends who can’t bear to pass up any frozen body of water.

I do like to go ice fishing. I’ve never acquired the gear needed for it, though, so I always have to wait for an invitation from one of my ice-angling buddies. I do feel bad about bumming their equipment off them, and I intend to get some of my own gear at some point.

But I spent the winter of 2017-2018 in North Dakota, and I’ve seen where an addiction to ice fishing can lead. I’m pretty sure everyone who lives in North Dakota ice fishes. I met seven different people while I was there who had built additions to their houses or large outbuildings in their yards specifically to store their ice fishing gear.

And the gear they had was incredible. They all had the usual assortment of rods, tip-ups, augers, auger extensions, ice scoops, and portable huts, of course. But many of them also had fish huts. These are not the portable Eskimo or Frabill tents you see dotting lakes in Wyoming. These are actual cabins on skids that they drag out on the ice – often with full-size, one-ton dually pickups. And there are campers, too, often called Ice Castles, though that’s an actual brand name, that have articulating wheels that lift up when you get out on the ice, so the floor of the camper sits flat on the ice. The floor of the camper has sections that lift out, so you can drill a hole in the ice and fish from inside the camper.

These fish huts and campers can be bare-bones, or they can be more luxurious than your own home. I’ve been in fish huts with card tables, 70-inch flat-screen TVs, double ovens, and many other creature comforts.

I think I prefer sitting on an overturned bucket on Lake Hattie, though. It just seems more like fishing that way than if you’re in a house on the ice with a big-screen TV.