Although we got off to a good start this ice fishing season with sub zero temperatures, sporadic warmth has compromised the ice through much of the Ice Belt.
Some lakes in northern Minnesota have 12-16 inches of good ice, while others have significantly less. The good news is that current cold temperatures are creating more good ice.
But these realities of fluctuating temperatures and lack of consistent good ice bring to mind alternate ways to reach fishing spots.
The Minnesota DNR gives the following recommendations for ice thickness necessary for various modes of travel:
While five inches of ice is recommended for ATV/snowmobile travel, there are other ways to travel on less ice with the same amount of mobility.
Like from this cool vehicle called the Wilcraft , which I fished out of a couple years back during first ice on Mille Lacs. Without it, we would not have been able to reach optimal walleye spots. There simply wasn’t enough ice for an ATV or sled, yet the Wilcraft exerts 2 pounds per square inch even at 51” wide by 11’ 6” long and 600 pounds. It also features a water-tight hull and floats, should you break through.
And we did break through at one point, the 342cc engine with HD torque converter had the power to pull and push us back onto the ice.
With 11” of clearance and a hydraulic system for raising and lowering the Wilcraft body, it also performs admirably in snow.
Not only does the Wilcraft allow easy access to hard-to-reach spots and peace of mind, it’s a self-contained fish house with three built-in 10-inch, sealable fishing holes and a 51” W x 8’ 6” L x 60” H enclosure. Optional features like interior LED lighting, front snow skis, and auger mount and various thermal levels of enclosures by Wisconsin’s Canvas By The Stitch allow endless customization.
And once the ice fishing season ends, the Wilcraft makes a great utility rig for use around the farm or food plot, and later, as an awesome duck or deer hunting blind with pop-up camo Quick Top enclosure option.