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Explore Iowa's Palaces on Ice - Ice Fishing Shacks

Think ice fishing is only sitting on a bucket in the cold waiting for the fish to bite? Iowa Outdoors toured some of Iowa's swankiest ice shacks, and we found kitchens, satellite TVs, stereos, underwater cameras and more! | Iowa DNRFor these ice anglers, the best way to beat cabin fever just means getting to their own cabin of sorts – the ice shack. And today’s ice shacks are swank ways to get away in the winter – read on from this excerpt from “Palaces on Ice: The Frontier of Comfort” from Iowa Outdoors magazine.

Photos and story by William Price

Modern ice anglers suffer from a different cabin fever than most Iowans after a long cold winter overstays its welcome. For many, waiting blindly for fish to bite on a bucket while getting blasted by arctic winds over Iowa’s frozen waters has become a part of history. This new kind of cabin fever is a good thing, offering a change of pace to old-school ice fishing on buckets.

Today’s luxury icehouses offer all the comforts of home, while allowing unprecedented portability for chasing fish to new depths and old haunts. These palaces on ice afford up to a dozen separate fishing holes, meticulously monitored by high-tech sonar finders sensitive to even the slightest movement below. Electric augers eliminate the need for clearing indoor exhaust fumes with icy air blasts, while fixed and flexible configurations of rod holders allow hands-free comfort with quick access for setting the hook. Forced air furnaces keep temperatures toasty enough for short sleeves and teeth-chattering-free conversation.

For the adventurer awaiting extended comfort, these luxury ice shanties function as personal chalets—providing escape well beyond a Thursday night getaway. A rare troop of tundra warriors is on the frontier of a well-established Midwestern ice fishing cultural institution and are transcending barren, icy landscapes into a departure from conformity to fishing nirvana.

And they can stay as long as they want—in style.

Gas-powered generators and solar panels keep the operation running smoothly, powering recessed LED lighting, microwaves, ovens and stovetops, flat screen TVs, videogame consoles, satellite dishes, stereos and even underwater cameras.

Wayne Venske, 76, of Mason City, joined this legion of comfort-seekers last year after careful consideration. He and a friend jumped on their chance to buy a chateau of their own during a fishing trip in Wisconsin. Now they move often in search of fish on Clear Lake, and are glad they made the decision. “It’s so easy, you just pull up and in no time you’re ready to fish,” Venske says.  He sums up the changing times with, “My father would roll over in his grave if he knew we were fishing like this.”

To see more of these palaces on ice, subscribe to Iowa Outdoors magazine. You can also find more info on the magazine and Iowa fishing on the DNR's Pinterest boards.

 

Think ice fishing is only sitting on a bucket in the cold waiting for the fish to bite? Iowa Outdoors toured some of Iowa's swankiest ice shacks, and we found kitchens, satellite TVs, stereos, underwater cameras and more! | Iowa DNR

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