• 14°

A home away from home

Area residents enjoy ice fishing with modern-day amenities

Gone are the traditional days of ice fishing, and in are the days when people can fish while enjoying the amenities they’re accustomed to at home.

Jenna and Eli Riggle of Albert Lea in the last year upgraded to a larger ice house that they can better enjoy with their three children, Henryk, Huntley and Haidyn. For them, it’s about getting their young family out on the ice and making memories.

“It’s a family thing,” Jenna Riggle said of their love of ice fishing. “It’s something fun to do.” 

They purchased their 30-foot-long Diamond Edition Ice Castle fish house from a person in the Faribault area and are looking forward to the upcoming ice fishing season. They said they especially enjoy fishing on Mille Lacs Lake and Lake of the Woods but also enjoy fishing on area lakes in Albert Lea and Faribault. They were planning their next weeklong trip at the end of January or early February.

Their new fish house includes a fireplace, a dining table that can be removed for an additional sleeping area, a slide-out couch, a queen bed, a stove, kitchen cabinets and amenities, two televisions with surround sound that can utilize satellite television, and a bathroom with extra cabinet storage. It also has LED lights that can be changed colors that trace the top of the ice house and the cabinets. It utilizes LP heat and stays nice and warm out in the cold Minnesota winters, Eli Riggle said.

The family said they particularly enjoy cooking breakfast when they are out fishing, including eggs, bacon and toast in the kitchen of the ice house. They also enjoy using the pizza oven.

“It’s practically home on ice,” he said. “The sky’s the limit.”

The ice house is set up similarly to what you would find in a camper, aside from the 10 fishing holes along the floor that can be covered when not in use.

The family has gear in place to hold the poles, or they can hold the fishing poles by hand, too, if they would rather. At night, they also have a special tool that lights up on a pole when a fish takes a bite on the line.

The ice house can also be used in the summer for camping, and there is an awning that pulls out on the front.

Eric Battle of rural Albert Lea purchased his 24-foot Ice Castle fish house in 2019 but has been ice fishing for many years, including when his children were younger.

He said he uses his fish house not only for ice fishing, but camping as well. He enjoys ice fishing in January on Fountain Lake in Albert Lea and sometimes on Roberds Lake in Faribault. He often goes out for three to four days at a time.

“There’s not many toys in Minnesota that you can use all four seasons,” Battle said.

His fish house features many of the same amenities as the Riggles’ house but with eight ice fishing holes and a shower in the bathroom.

He said the house is on hydraulics, which allows him to lift it up, use an auger to drill his ice fishing holes and then lower the house back down.

Some of the amenities that attracted him to the fish house were the lift bed, slide out couches and things like ceiling fans.

“Just having the nice things that you have at home,” Battle said.

This year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has used his ice house for an office, but he looks forward to getting back out on the ice.

“I’ve always said I’m not much of a soft water fisherman,” he said. “I’m a hard water fisherman.”