fishtrapFor generations, icefishermen had two choices. Fish outside and hope for decent weather or, build a heavy, permanent shack and plunk it down on a good spot for the season. Today’s portable shelters might be icefishing’s greatest advancement so far. I usually don’t fish without mine, and have used a range of styles from Clam Corporation for close to 20 years. They offer so many advantages. Here are three big ones:

Introducing New People To The Sport Through Comfort: These units basically make wind and weather a non-factor. I’ve been able to enjoy fishing with women, older folks and kids solely because of the comfort factor. Having a warm, dry and organized area to operate in makes icefishing so much more appealing. Whipping wind and freezing gear might not bother you, but it takes away a lot of the enjoyment for others. Icefishing’s appeal has swelled in recent years. A big reason for its rise in popularity is comfort. Anyone can enjoy a day’s fishing inside a shelter. Spending a day is discomfort is usually enough to turn most new fishermen off for good.

Mobility & Efficiency: On foot or behind an ATV/snowmachine, portables give you a lot of freedom. If you’re actively looking for fish, being able to pick up and relocate is huge. Of course, the harder moving is, the less likely you’ll be to do it. Once you’re in business, being in a warm, controlled environment makes fishing easier. Sonars and other electronics work better and last longer. Lines and reels relax and operate smoothly. And you’ve got great feel and control without gloves on. Inside a shelter, you’re able to focus on fishing instead of messing with stiff, coiled line or clearing ice from your hole and rod guides. Changing lures, set-ups or freshening up live bait is quick and easy.

Easy Catch & Release: Putting yourself in good locations and being able to fish effectively usually means you’ll be catching fish. Brutal temperatures, deep snow and slush are all hard on ones you intend to release. In a shelter, you can unhook, photograph and measure fish with minimal risk. Operating cameras for still shots or video is so much easier, too. I’ve been in many situations where pike and lake trout were saved strictly as a result of being handled ‘indoors.’ All of your release tools are easy to get at, and there’s no need to rush or fumble around in the elements.

I like to think of my portable shelters as my mobile command center. They’re versatile and really do make fishing more fun. They’ll not only help you fish better, but fish a lot more, too. No matter what the weather, I know I’ll always be ‘in the game.’ Fishing effectively early and late some days is also a huge advantage. There’s days every winter where the portable is what made success possible. Shop around and add this option to your attack next season.

By J.P. Bushey