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


Pair escape uninjured as plane crashes moments after takeoff

It crashed about a half mile southwest of Faribault Airport.

Screen Shot 2021-04-22 at 4.12.50 PM

For The Week: Making cocktails at home? Here's how to do it right

Lindsay Guentzel's For The Week column features simple food and drink tips.

coronavirus, covid-19

Mayo Clinic study provides 'best guess' about pandemic's future in MN

Minnesota could be seeing decreasing numbers into the summer if the study is correct.

daunte wright funeral - siblings

Mourners remember Daunte Wright, plead for justice

Wright was killed by a now-former Brooklyn Center police officer on April 11.


HealthPartners: COVID hospitalizations driven by unvaccinated, middle aged adults

The health provider says the average age of its hospitalized patients is trending downwards.

Andrew Thomas booking photo

Man suspected of shooting at National Guard in Minneapolis faces more charges

He has now been charged in Hennepin County District Court with more serious crimes.


Investigation finds EPA mishandled oversight for PolyMet mine permits

A new report found the EPA didn't follow its own procedures when it submitted comments on the proposed project.


MDH's new COVID guidance urges weekly testing for those involved in sports

Those not involved in school sports are still advised to get tested every two weeks.

Trey Lance

With loaded QB draft class, now is the time for Vikings to act

With a strong class, this year might be the time to select Kirk Cousins' successor.