Skip to main content

Small Minnesota company makes big catch in state's fish house biz


While the economic downturn had outdoor enthusiasts cutting back on nonessentials like boats, snowmobiles and other recreational "toys," a small west-central Minnesota manufacturer of wheeled ice-fishing houses hasn't slowed down.

"We didn't know it was going to be this big. It's huge," Jeff Drexler, owner of Ice Castle fish houses, told the Pioneer Press.

The Montevideo-based company of just over 100 employees accounts for 56 percent market share of ice houses in Minnesota and is the state's top-selling travel trailer recreational vehicle, the Pioneer Press reports.

Ice Castle staff is kicking out as many as 10 fish house trailers per day to meet the growing demand. Drexler expects to produce more than 2,000 houses this year, but is still about 500 units behind as the ice fishing season kicks into high gear.

"We're trying to increase our production and trying to get everyone happy here before the second week of January," Drexler said.

The wheeled fish houses that double as a trailer, hunting shed, camper or toy hauler comes in 33 models. The smallest, the 6-1/2-by-8-foot Scout, sells for just under $5,000 and the largest, the 8-by-30-foot King's Castle, goes for $36,250, according to the newspaper.

Ice fishing has come a long way since chiseled holes and sitting on buckets in the open air. The tradition has become Minnesota's most popular winter sport and has been a significant player in the state's $2.8 billion fishing industry.

The ice may not be thick enough yet this season to drive on. Many vehicles have fallen through the ice on Minnesota lakes this month. On Friday afternoon, a man escaped his pickup after it broke through the ice while he was plowing snow on Lake Irving near Bemidji.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends that ice be 12 to 15 inches thick to accommodate the weight of a medium-sized truck.

Next Up

Kirill Kaprizov

2nd period surge leads Wild to fourth straight win

With three goals in the second, the Wild blasted the last-place Coyotes.

Gopher Basketball / R.J. Stephens

Late-tip in helps Gophers pass first big test, improve to 6-0

Luke Loewe's bucket with 2.4 seconds remaining helped the Gophers stay undefeated.


Man, 40, found dead stuck in air duct at his Otter Tail Co. home

The discovery was made by family members Monday morning.

Biden Minnesota visit stream screengrab - 11.30.31

What Biden said during his visit to Minnesota Tuesday

The president spoke at Dakota County Technical College.

Grand Marais

Cook County registers its first COVID-19 death of the pandemic

The sparsely populated, highly-vaccinated county has continuously had one of the lowest rates of COVID in the state.

Waits family screengrab CNN

Support for MN family after anti-maskers target child of school board chair

An online group opposing Kelsey Waits outed the child as transgender.

Pixabay - school - classroom

St. Paul schools add 2 days to winter break due to pandemic stress

The added days off are meant to acknowledge the stress the pandemic has caused.

Fardoussa Abdillahi

Charges: St. Cloud mother killed baby, placed him in dumpster

The 4-month-old baby was found by officers on Sunday morning.


1 dead in crash at Lake Street intersection in south Minneapolis

There have been 465 deaths on Minnesota roads this year, according to the state's traffic division.


St. Paul restaurateur's businesses burglarized a 6th time

The owner of The Gnome and Hope Breakfast Bar is asking politicians to help St. Paul business owners.

North Memorial Air Care

Teen suffers life-threatening injuries in head-on crash in southern MN

The 18-year-old was airlifted to a Mayo Clinic hospital in Rochester.

foo fighters grohl mr rossi wikimedia

Foo Fighters abruptly cancel Gophers stadium show hours after announcing it

The band is looking for a new venue because of a disagreement over COVID protocols.