An ice shanty (also called an ice shack, ice house, fishing shanty, fish house, fish coop, bobhouse, ice hut, or darkhouse) is a portable shed placed on a frozen lake to provide shelter during ice fishing. They can be as small and cheap as a plastic tarp draped over a frame of two-by-fours, or as expensive as a small cabin with heat, bunks, electricity, and cooking facilities.

Three ice shanties
The Vista Shanty, an unusual shanty with a view

More durable ice houses are generally left on a lake for the duration of the ice fishing season,[1] although this can cause problems, such as thaws and re-freezing causing houses to be immoveably frozen onto the lake.[2] Lighter, cheaper versions can collapse into a package to be moved from lake to lake during the season.

Many northern communities have developed bodies of laws about the operation of ice shanties - frequently including dates by which they must be removed, even if the ice can still hold them.[3]


In northern climates, ice shanties are the center of a large, often humorous, folklore. Fishermen often decorate their ice shanties in humorous ways (toilets are a popular joke addition), while others studiously work on ways to make their ice shanties more comfortable and efficient. Much of the folklore involves the inherent danger of erecting a structure atop a frozen pond.


Further readingEdit

  • Stark, Larry and Magnus Berglund. Hook, Line and Shelter, Ice Fishing Tales and Photos Too (A lighthearted compedium of ice fishing stories from across North America). Cambridge MN: Adventure Publications, Inc., 1990.

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