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Minnesotan creates portable ice-fishing shack
Dave Novak lifts the fish house he designed on Lake Julia near Palmer, Minn. The 60-pound fish house can be picked up and moved from place to place while the fisherman remains inside.

FOLEY, Minn. - Ever hear a fish story that starts like this?

"So, I'm sittin' there minding my own business, when the fish house next to me stands up and walks away."

The trauma of getting skunked after a day on the ice would seem like nothing compared to the confusion that Dave Novak's latest creation might cause.

He's built hundreds of fish houses of all sizes, designs and functionality. But his latest contraption is likely to gain as many skeptics as the yarn about the big one that got away.

Novak, who spends his spare time on woodworking projects in his Foley shop, has designed a fish house that can be moved without the angler leaving the house. Handles on the inside walls of the plywood-and-canvas shack allow an angler to lift the house, and leg power does the rest. The 60-pound house is 42 inches wide by 60 inches long and allows the user to hop between several fishing holes without having to trailer a bulky house or take down and set up a collapsible house.

"The only disadvantage I've found is the more fish you catch, the heavier it gets to carry," he said.

A partial floor inside provides enough space to set up a small heater and two buckets to hold gear and fish. Windows on either end give him a view of the terrain as he moves.

He doesn't seem too worried about accidentally putting a foot through a hole he can't see as he's moving his house.

"I've got a window on each end, but you gotta be careful," he said.

He chuckles when talking about the looks he gets when other anglers see him walking his house across Lake Julia, which is near the town of Clear Lake, about 15 miles south of Foley. The "Sneak Shack," as he calls it, takes only a few hours to build, sets up and collapses in about a minute and fits into the bed of a small pickup. With a sticker price of about $300, it's a good deal for what it provides, he said.

A small heater produces enough heat and the black canvas roof maximizes the sun's heat. Any leaks from the floor that would let heat escape can be closed by banking snow.

"I've never seen anything like it on the market," Novak said.

Watch him sneak his shack around the ice and you can't help but wonder what's coming next from Novak's active imagination. Where does he get all those ideas?

"By staying awake at night," he chuckled. "Or by sitting out here with the fish not biting."