There is a place where the landscape changes each season and when this season turns frozen new towns appear.  Sound magical?  Almost, it’s just a Minnesota winter and people enjoying the sport of ice fishing.  Everyone knows that people have been traveling for +150 years for a Minnesota Vacation to enjoy some summer fishing in our 10,000+ lakes.  Well, these towns appear right on the water for some frozen fun and Minnesota Ice Fishing.

Now the start of ice fishing is unclear and according to History Of Fishing we know that it is tradition of Native peoples of North America and Canada and it was a way of survival. They would break or open the ice over a lake or a river and they would spear the fish with a spear made of wood, bone or ivory. Our favorite story of the history of Minnesota ice fishing is from Tom Uehling and about a man by the name of Sven Stevenson. The story goes that Sven had a cabin on Lake Minnewaska in 1888.  While Sven was using his outhouse, it slid down a hill and onto the lake. Now while Sven took his ride in his outhouse so much friction from the ride caused heat to melt the ice as it landed on the lake.  As Sven peered down this hole, low and behold fish were swimming right where he landed, how convenient. It didn’t take Sven long to run up the hill to fetch his summer fishing gear.  Soon a village of outhouses surrounded Sven as others joined in and created a town on the water.  Read more about this tale at

Fast forward to 1993 were John and Max introduce everyone to Minnesota ice fishing with the release of “Grumpy Old Men.” Their shacks were heated and had some comforts but are nothing compared to the fish houses of today equipped with more electronics that a modern-day home and built of light materials like aluminum and spray foamed insulation to keep that Minnesota winter out. Many owners of these fish houses take a weekend adventure and camp on the lake, these fish houses are essentially campers.

And villages literally form on our frozen lakes with some areas even having a bar like Hillbillies Ice Hole on Lake Lida or  Three Fisherman’s Watering Hole on West Battle Lake.

Many areas host fishing tournaments or derbies, like the current world’s largest contest, the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza, which is held on Gull Lake, in January of each year. The contest has over 15,000 anglers and drills over 20,000 holes for the contest. www.icefish

So are you ready to walk on water?  Gear is similar to summer fishing a hook and line are used but further than that the poles used are shorter, tip ups are used, and rattle reals are used inside these plush houses.  If you are looking to experience ice fishing contact one of our year around member owner-operated Minnesota Resorts.  They will get you headed in the right direction with a place to stay. Some have ice houses to rent and some even have ice fishing gear available. But, you can start with basic gear from any sporting goods store. It is cheap and easy to get started. All you have to do is dress warm and be ready to fish. Click here to find our resorts that are open in the winter.

We also want to remind you to take caution while venturing out on the ice.  Even though our lakes can create a layer of ice 12” plus, it is not 100% safe and you should always respect mother nature and her waters.  Here is a guide on ice thickness and safety tips.

Fish House inside fishing Johnson
Fishermans Watering Hole Three Fishermen Watering Hole lg
fish house inside Megan Johnson lg

Submitted by Megan Johnson
Photo Credits: Megan Johnson, Three Fisherman’s Watering Hole,
Brainerd Jaycee’s, Grumpy Old Men website, MN DNR

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