The last major consideration during the ice fishing pre-season is shelter. The weather here in the Valley and all major ice fishing destinations, can get extremely cold. Since there are only 12 to 16 weekends to ice fish, each weekend is like a little nugget of gold. Ice anglers do everything in their power to be able to take advantage of these gold nuggets. Plan to do the same.
If you are an occasional ice angler, there are some quick, easy and less expensive options to protect one from the cold and the wind on your favorite hardwater. Pop-up shelters are very easy to use and are much like a camping tent.
Being portable, one can move them several times a day to try various locations on the water body. Pop-ups protect from the wind and hold body heat so there is some warmth. Larger pop ups can also accommodate a small propane heater.
Another option is to rent a shelter, should the chosen weekend turn colder and windier than planned. The North Country Angler in North Conway has pop-up shelters for rent or purchase. On a cold and windy North Country day, it is a godsend to have shelter on the ice.
A third option, is renting a bob house. A bob house is a fixed structure that is built on land and towed out onto the ice. These structures are more of a fixed location, as once out on the ice, they are not easy to relocate. While this may be viewed as a negative, in fact it is a positive.
Hardcore ice anglers know where the fish tend to be and place their bob house in a location where they have had success in previous seasons. Fish Nerds Guide Service in Conway has several bob houses available for rental on area waters.
Merriam-Webster defines a bob house as “a small shack usually on runners and used for fishing through the ice.” This may be how bob houses started but today’s bob houses are far more luxurious and sophisticated than a “shack on runners.”
The bob house of today has all the amenities of a hotel room. Designs include bunk beds, flat panel TVs, stoves, stereo systems, heaters. When building a bob house, or having one built custom, the sky is the limit. With the advent of solar power technology, there is almost nothing that can’t be built into a bob house.
In the Midwest, virtual communities open up on the ice. Ice roads are plowed and maintained. Anglers have street numbers. Numbers that are honored year to year. It is amazing to see the friendship and camaraderie that these communities have.
Closer to home, there are bob house communities on many of our major water bodies. Lake Winnepesauke has ice communities popping up in all the major bays. Pontook Reservoir has a vibrant ice community. While there are some bob houses out on the valley lakes, none have risen to community status.
As with all things fish and game related, there are some rules that need to be followed when deciding to build and use a bob house. The name and address of the bob-house owner needs to be prominently displayed on the outside of the house. The bob house must have 12 square inches of reflective material halfway up each side of the house. Bob houses must be off the water by April 1 or before the ice becomes dangerous for travel.
Tip of the Week
Even if you don’t ice fish, visit an ice-fishing community. The people are fun and knowledgeable. You may even be offered an adult beverage and some fresh fish.
Steve Angers is a native son to the Conway area. He has been consumed by fishing since catching his first wild brook trout at the base of Champney Falls.