When buying or building an ice fishing shanty this winter, your number one priorities should be keeping warm with the right shelter and the proper outdoor clothing. However, your preeminent concern, before you even start to daydream about your ice fishing shanty and before you go shopping for well insulated outdoor clothing, should be safety.
Make sure that the lake you’re on has a sufficient cover of ice. Unless it’s your first season in a new area, you probably already know this, but every year some intrepid souls go out too early and risk injury or death.
Inside an ice fishing shanty, most anglers huddle in their outdoor clothing and install hand-lines and tip-ups (a device that sprouts a red flag when a fish bites). Be sure to dress warmly, because this is a very sedentary sport; you will spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for your fish to bite. Another important reminder: alcohol makes frostbite a real danger. Drink responsibly.
Ice fishing shanty or just warm outdoor clothing?
Many anglers find that they do not need or desire an ice fishing shanty. These fishermen think that warm, outdoor clothing will suffice to keep them safe from the elements. They may be right at times, depending on where they live. However, these structures serve as more than shelter; they also serve as overhead protection from the sun’s glare as well as lateral protection from the glare off the ice. On a sunny day, even if it’s below freezing, sun burn is a real risk.
A good ice fishing shanty makes it easier for you to catch fish for two reasons. First, it allows you to bear the elements long enough to actually get some strikes. Second, it makes it easier for the fish to see the bait since it is in shadow. Outdoor clothing, no matter how high quality, cannot perform these tasks.