Pop-up shelters have provided a whole new way to ice fish comfortably. You could keep sitting in a wooden shed with holes in the floor, but when mobility is the key to staying on top of winter fish, the traditional ice hut just doesn’t cut it.
As roomy as a small hut and almost as mobile as a flip over shelter, the pop-up shelter has become a popular option for the modern ice angler. Here are a few tricks to help you have a perfect day on the ice.
Pack Extra Equipment
When heading out for a day in your pop-up, pack 3 extra pieces of equipment: a power drill with a small diameter drill bit, a set of pull-through straps, and a small folding shovel.
The drill is to make a pilot hole for your screws, the straps are to secure the tent to the anchors (rather than using the strings or straps with the tent), and the shovel is to gather, throw, and pack snow around the perimeter of your temporary ice castle.
The strings used to secure the tent to the screws can sometimes fray, break, or freeze and are generally unpleasant to deal with at the end of a day of fishing. Pull-through straps are exponentially easier to work with and considerably sturdier.
Some things to consider when setting up your tent are wind direction, current direction, snow conditions, and the location of your shelter door.
Generally, I like to install at least 1 anchor (2 with a six-man tent), before I take the shelter out of its bag, especially on windy days.
Situate your pop-up so it’s perpendicular to the current to avoid dropping lines on top of others.
If you’re using a wide 6-man tent, pointing the narrow side upwind will cause your pop-up to capture less wind and reduce the risk of damage to your set-up, but you will need to strap each hub except the one on the downwind side.
Setting up with the wide side against the direction of the wind is a little more difficult and you risk more damage to the shelter on really gusty days, but you can often get away with strapping only 2 hubs.
However, when dealing with high winds there’s no room for shortcuts. Use every anchor point available. Most models offer anchor points inside the shelter as well. Spending the extra time to secure the tent from all angles could save you from chasing a cartwheeling shelter down the lake, and save you some money on repairs as well.
Whichever way you decide to position your tent, make sure the straps are on the upwind side and the door is on the other.
Once the side facing the wind is anchored, pile loose snow on the skirt to seal the gap between the shelter and the ice.
Avoid using wet snow or slush on the skirt, or getting water on the inner wall when drilling holes. I learned the hard way that a quick change in temperature can mean you’ll be left chiselling your shelter out of thick ice in the dark. Instead, pack loose snow with your folding shovel.
When possible, start tear down in sunlight hours. If the wind isn’t an issue, put away straps and anchors while they’re still easily visible in the snow. This is also a good time to take any snow accumulation off the roof of the shelter.
Putting your shelter back into its bag will be challenging because the tent’s fabric will have hardened over the course of the day. Don’t force it into the bag, as this could cause damage. If needed, wrap the anchor straps around the tent to bring it home and let it soften and dry in the garage or basement before stowing it away.
Pop-up shelters are a sensible option for the angler on a budget, or the more serious angler looking to stay mobile and comfortable. Using your shelter smartly will ensure a smooth experience.