The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 29, 2013

Cross: Ice fishing in a high-rent district

When it comes to ice fishing, my needs are pretty simple.

It all comes down to one word: Warmth.

Memories of sitting on a pail out in the elements, peering into a hole in the ice, are way too fresh.

A portable shelter, a hissing heater to ward of the cold, and I figure I’m pretty much sitting in the lap of luxury.

Of course, luxury is all in the eyes of the beholder.

Halfway to a limit of crappies the other day on Lake Washington, it occurred to me that comfortable as I was in my simple surroundings, I was fishing in a pretty high-rent ice-fishing village.

In case you haven’t noticed, wheeled fish houses equipped with virtually all of the comforts of home are extremely popular nowadays.

Ice fishermen have been building fishing shanties for all time. The more creative and ambitious builders frequently incorporate crude bunks, some battery-powered lights, a heater, maybe even a cook stove, into their home-builds.

But nowadays, commercial manufactures have gotten into the act, churning out factory-built units decked out with all of the comforts of home.

They come equipped with such amenities as built-in cabinets, foldaway bunks, kitchenettes, bathrooms, electric lights, pine paneling, built-in sound systems and satellite television.

The only limit to which creature comforts can be added to the hard water mansions is the depth of one’s pockets or aversion to debt.

Common to all of them is a retractable wheel system that makes it possible to be towed to a lake and then through a crank-and-pulley system, lowered onto the ice.

A peek through the frosted plastic window of my canvas shelter the other day revealed that I and the other anglers relying on our lowly canvas portables clearly were out-numbered by the ice mansions.

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