I recall the first time I saw someone in an ice shelter. They drug this large looking flat thing out onto the ice then popped up this shelter and disappeared. All I remember thinking is “you’ve got to be kidding”. Now remember this is western ice fishing. The Great Lakes regional folks have been dragging shelters on to the ice forever.
A couple years later my brother showed up with a sled that had a pop up wind block on it and you had all your gear inside the little snow shuttle/sled. It took me standing out of the wind behind the block to “get it”.
Ice shelters have come a long ways since I saw my first in the early 80’s. I still don’t own one per sey, but the next time it is cold or windy and I’m taking kids, the pop up hunting blind is going along. I think I have a system figured out to anchor it to the sled. I’ll let you know how it goes.
If you use a heater make sure you keep the shack ventilated. The shacks I’ve seen for sale remind you to do that. HEED THE WARNING.
If you want to drill a bunch of holes effortlessly you can drop $300.00 and change on a motorize auger. I’m not there yet either. I’ve got a little 6 inch hand Lazer Auger that I can get through a foot of ice as fast as a motorized 8 inch auger. But I’m not out there to race anyway.
A sled is helpful if you want to drag along a couple chairs, heater, pop up tent and lunch or a kid. Don’t worry about getting one too large. You’ll fill it up.!
Now the item I really struggle with owning for several reasons: Fish finders. I’m really all over the map with this. If a fishing organization like Bass Masters dis-allows them in tournaments then why do our wildlife agency’s allow them? I can see in the instance where there is an over population of perch and they need to be thinned, to use one to find em, get on em, and work them back into a population where they don’t damage the fishery. In that manner, you can say they are “good for the resource”. But after that, I almost feel like it is cheating. I’ve fished with folks who have them; they give you something to watch besides the tip of your pole. They can be frustrating because you will see fish come to the lure and often ignore it. The very most inexpensive one will let you know if you are over any fish or not. I imagine the most expensive one will tell you where to move to, how many are there, and maybe some day what the species is. But I guess if they don’t tell you what the fish wants to eat, maybe they are ok.
Now once you get this all figured out then you need to take your kid or someone else’s. Kids can have a great time ice fishing even if it just turns into hot chocolate and snow angels. Pay it forward! Good Luck!