The summer camping season is here, but getting a jump on winter ice fishing trips needs to include finding the best RV fish house to enjoy the sport in comfort.
If you don’t know, a fish house RV is a specially made travel trailer or “wheelhouse” that can withstand cold temperatures and harsh winter storms. Fish houses use a hydraulic lift system on the axle, so the trailer box sits on the ice, and there are pre-cut holes in the floor to drop a line in the water.
When you’re ready to upgrade from the standard fish shanty to stay warm while ice fishing, the solution is to purchase a high-quality RV fish house that blends ice fishing and camping into one cool package you can enjoy every season!
Unique Fish House RV Features
Fish house RVs have features most standard recreational vehicles lack so that guests can spend hours or days on ice-covered lakes and ponds comfortably fishing. When you put the poles away, fish house RVs allow guests to cook, relax, entertain, shower, and sleep without leaving the unit.
Here are the features that set fish house RVs apart from traditional campers:
Keeping fish house occupants warm and safe during winter, including possible harsh storms, means manufacturers switch to extra durable structural materials in framing, interior and exterior walls, windows, flooring, and roofing.
A fish house RV will have excellent insulation to go along with the beefier construction. The top manufacturers use spray foam insulation for the super-tight seal, but some use rigid foam board or fiberglass batting.
High R-value insulation is key to buffering guests from frigid temperatures and keeps the outside weather from overtaxing the fish house’s heating system.
The superior insulation does equally well to maintain a cool interior when camping in hot regions while running the air conditioner.
Fish house RVs have unique adjustable axles that allow you to lower the entire cabin until it’s sitting on the ice or ground.
The mechanism works by lifting the axles into the RV underbelly, with the tires fitting into indents on the fish house sides. You can move the axles through a manual crank or a power drop/lift system.
With the trailer sealed to the ice, you can open your fishing ports on the wheelhouse floor and not worry cold air will come rushing in.
The secondary benefit of the trailer box sitting directly on the ice (or ground) is that the RV won’t move when you walk around inside.
Efficient Heating System
Fish house RVs will have a robust heating system to go along with the increased insulation, so occupants stay warm no matter how long they remain on the ice.
Because the heaters will be running most of the time, the manufacturers install energy-efficient models to conserve propane and allow you to enjoy ice fishing longer.
Fishing Specific Countertops
The one nice feature of fish house floorplans is the long lower cabinets with solid countertops that typically span one or both sides of the trailer. This surface gives you a place to hold supplies, prepare lines, cut bait, clean fish, or do other ice-fishing-related tasks.
Access Holes and Lighting for Fishing
Of course, the main event of a fish house RV is the holes in the floor so you can drop lines from the interior of the trailer.
Fish houses typically have four to ten holes with a cover that screws out of the port in the floor. The holes are wide enough to accommodate an ice auger for drilling through the ice to reach open water.
One cool feature that most fish house RV builders include is blue LED lights around each fishing hole. The color illuminates the top of the water to see better, but it isn’t a color fish can detect so that it won’t scare them away.
Many fish house RVs are also pre-wired for the attachment of underwater cameras or sonar, allowing you to watch the action down below the ice.
Dedicated Storage Zones for Fishing Gear
Large closets or long cabinets and drawers that can accommodate fishing poles, nets, tackle boxes, and other fishing and camping supplies are a staple in the best RV fish houses.
Having a place to stash gear is critical for keeping the floor area free of clutter, so items aren’t in the way or accidentally falling into the water while you’re fishing.
The 4 Best RV Fish Houses for Winter
1. Ice Castle Fish House Eagle EXT
|Sleep||5 – 7|
|Price||Starts at $65,000|
The Ice Castle Fish House Eagle EXT epitomizes the saying, “Go big or go home.” This model is the one to pick if luxury-level ice fishing sessions are on your agenda.
The standout features of the Eagle EXT start with the slideout, which is rare in a fish house RV. Another grand touch is the full-size kitchen, making it easy to cook up your catch.
The interior design reads like a fancy fifth-wheel. Walnut-stained cabinets and wood-look vinyl plank floors feel residential, not “camper.” You’ll stay toasty with the electric fireplace and high-R-value insulation no matter how low the outside temps drop.
When it’s time to clean up, the full bathroom provides plenty of room to maneuver. Beds are plentiful in the Eagle EXT, with twin bunks, three jackknife sofas, and a 60″ electric lift bed.
Toss in top-quality Furion appliances, an entertainment system, a 21′ awning, and dual-axles to support the trailer for smooth and easy towing. You’ll be the envy of every ice fishing enthusiast you meet.
Eagle Ext Ice Castle Fish House (Video)
2. Forest River Grey Wolf 16GR
|Length||26 feet 6 inches|
The Forest River Grey Wolf 16GR combines an efficient floorplan with eight fishing holes, so you can find the sweet spot and pull in a nice catch.
Floor Plan for the Forest River Grey Wolf 16GR
One of six models in Forest River’s fish house line, the 16GR is a nice mid-to-large size that lets a group or family ice fish without feeling cramped. The rear dinette and bunk area have large thermopane residential windows for plenty of daylight and views, and the flip-up bunk sofa provides extra sleeping quarters.
The kitchenette has a sink and oven with a cooktop and a front closet that houses a portable toilet. While the areas are compact, they are functional and get the job done. Bump up to the 17MP model if you must have a fridge, shower, and standard RV toilet.
The storage in this fish house is impressive, with drop-down rod cabinets on both sides, cabinets in the kitchen area, and a bank down both walls. The 35,000 BTU furnace keeps the space evenly warm, and the front entry door allows you to keep dirty or wet shoes away from the main living and fishing space.
The Grey Wolf 16GR also features LED lighting around each port, a fully-insulated subfloor, and a multimedia system, and is pre-wired for underwater cameras, air conditioning, solar, and satellite for fast and easy upgrades.
The lighter weight of this fish house model means you can tow it with most full-size trucks and many large SUVs.
Forest River Grey Wolf 16 GR Fish House (Video)
3. Glacier Ice House 17EXP
The Glacier Ice House 17EXP floorplan is a top small-size RV fish house that includes a full bathroom, full kitchen, as well as a power awning, that makes long stays on the ice more comfortable.
Six lighted ice holes offer fishing flexibility, and guests can sleep on the jackknife sofa, two bunks, or on the convertible dinette. The unit features a forced-air furnace and prep for an A/C, with dual-pane windows letting in the light but keeping out the cold.
Plenty of thought goes into the storage zones, and there is no lack of counters to spread out your fishing supplies. There’s even a flip-down table to increase the work surface.
Glacier Ice House builds every fish house like a tank, with the most rugged roof truss system that won’t sag or fail under the heaviest of snow loads. Insulation includes fiberglass batting and reflective radiant sheeting that seals the unit against air leaks.
The cedar wood interior walls amp up the insulating barrier and give the wheelhouse a classic cabin vibe. The addition of diamond plate kickplates and trim protects cabinet and furniture edges to reduce wear and tear.
Glacier Ice House Factory Tour (Video)
4. Core Ice 8019ATX RV Edition
The Core Ice 8019 ATX is built with Intelli-core Structural Composite Technology that is extremely strong, durable, lightweight, and easy to clean and maintain.
The interior look is strictly utilitarian but has state-of-the-art, user-friendly technology. The dinette converts to sleeping quarters with a drop-down queen bed above. The size of this wheelhouse is ideal for a small family.
The trailer features electric brakes, power jacks, and an electric lift system with a remote for effortless towing and set up. The bathroom has a sink and flushing toilet, but the RV edition 8019ATX doesn’t have a shower.
Flooring in the Core Ice is non-slip and will never rot no matter how many snow-covered shoes walk on it. The paneled construction provides the highest level of insulation (R-11 for walls and floor, R-15 for roof) yet makes repairs simple and less expensive.
This model comes standard with a high-efficiency Truma forced-air furnace and water heater, a low-profile air conditioner, and a 4-season water system. The kitchen has an oven, 3-burner stove, exhaust fan, and microwave but does lack a fridge. Cabinets are PVC that will never warp, mold, or rot.
Last but not least, we must talk about the fully-insulated 86″ x 85.5″ rear ramp door that allows you to load up your toys or gear quickly and safely. Then, once you reach the ice, you can unload, flip down the benches, pop in the table, and set up seating for your stay.
Core Ice 8019ATX (Video)
Towing and Using a Fish House RV
If your heart is set on a fish house RV, you may wonder how easy and fuel-efficient they are to tow, which truck is suitable to handle the load, and how hard they are to park and set up.
Fish House RV Ease of Towing
Most fish house owners state that towing is much like a travel trailer, but the unit feels a bit heavier due to the beefier construction.
The best fish house RVs have a good suspension for smoother towing on pavement and dealing with the rougher off-road terrain they may encounter trying to park the fish house camper on the ice.
Adding rear and side cameras to a fish house RV is helpful when trying to situate your unit on the ice and while on the road, as most don’t come with the standard.
The pointed front end of most RV fish house models decreases drag while towing, which helps lower fuel consumption and gives you a few extra dollars for bait.
Which Size Truck is Best for Towing an RV Fish House
The truck you choose to tow your fish house needs to have the towing capacity to handle the GVWR of the RV.
Some fish house RVs are light enough that an SUV can tow them; however, most are safest to tow with a 1/2-ton truck. You may need to move to a 1-ton truck to pull a large fish house RV with extra gear in the truck bed, plus passengers, and deal with rough weather conditions like high winds, sleet, or snow.
Fish House RV Ease of Use
A fish house RV is much like a traditional camping trailer, with holding tanks, propane appliances, and other straightforward features. But, of course, the more interior amenities you have, like a bathroom or kitchenette, the easier your life on the ice will be.
The main difference you’ll find in setting up a fish house RV versus a standard travel trailer is the adjustable axles that allow you to lower the entire camper box to the ice or ground. To accomplish this correctly, you must have a level surface which can create difficulty when parking the fish house on the land.
Fish house wheels raise while the camper framing lowers. More expensive fish house RVs use power to handle this task, while others require manual cranking, which does add a bit of stress to your ice fishing setup chores.
On a positive note, the ability of the main fish house box to sit on the ice or ground provides a completely stable RV that doesn’t sway or rattle like a standard camper does that perches on tires and jacks.
How Thick Must Ice Be to Support a Fish House RV
A fish house RV can weigh anywhere from around 900 to 10,000 pounds, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.
It’s best to remember that you’ll need a truck to get your fish house out onto the ice. This fact means you’ll need to know the combined weight of your truck and fish house so you know how thick the ice must be to support all that weight.
An RV’s average weight for ice fishing is about 5,500 pounds, which is a bit less than the weight of a full-size pickup truck, which comes in at around 7,800 pounds. However, the chart below shows that ice 12 inches thick can hold up to 14,400 pounds, pushing the boundaries of safe support.
Giving yourself an extra ice thickness will ensure your truck and fish house don’t end up at the bottom of the lake if the ice gives way.
Ice Thickness and Supporting Weight:
- 6 inches: 3,900 pounds
- 8 inches: 6,400 pounds
- 10 inches: 10,000 pounds
- 12 inches: 14,400 pounds
- 14 inches: 19,600 pounds
- 16 inches: 25,600 pounds
- 18 inches: 32,400 pounds
- 20 inches: 40,000 pounds
If you’re unsure what your fish house RV and tow vehicle weigh combined, you should pack up as you would for an ice fishing trip and hit the scales at a truck stop to know the exact load you’re putting on ice.
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The best RV fish house will provide the amenities you need, such as a toilet or stove, tons of storage, ample ice holes, and rugged, well-insulated construction.
You can find fish house RVs for every budget, but the best fish house models I highlight above combine convenient features and durable build with designs that suit simple to luxurious tastes.
If these floorplans miss the mark for your needs, check out other models from these top fish house manufacturers. I’m sure you’ll find something perfect for next winter’s ice fishing season!
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide