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An ice fishing sensation is now built in Verndale

The Black Hole Ice Shack is shown through various stages of construction in the Verndale shop. The metal tubing is in place, ready for the insulated canvas to be placed on the closest trailer. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal1 / 4
The Black Hole Fish Shack is part fish house and part toy hauler, which works well for those needing an ATV to pull the fish house around the lake. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal2 / 4
The Black Hole Ice Shack, Sasquatch model is one of several built in the manufacturing shop in Verndale. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal3 / 4
Brian Hagen (left) and Jason Geis are partners in the business venture Black Hole Ice Shack, now being built in Verndale. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal4 / 4

The Black Hole Ice Shack doubles as a utility trailer

VERNDALE—A new outdoors manufacturer has taken root in Verndale, which is changing the way many ice anglers enjoy the sport.

Jason Geis, of Bertha, started looking into the popularity of pop-up shelters and the larger ice shacks built more like mobile homes. He realized that a hybrid model might just be the ticket for those looking to do serious fishing from a mobile platform.

So, the former Lund Boat builder, began building a concept out of his garage that became the Black Hole Ice Shack. It's a fold-up fish house built on a trailer that cranks down and doubles as a toy-hauler.

"I kind of perfected what I thought would be best," Geis said.

It caters to those that don't want to be anchored to one spot on the lake only during a portion of the ice season. It's lightweight enough (around 1,000 pounds) to pull around the lake with your ATV on early or late ice, testing out spots here and there, or setting up in one spot all day with an insulated covering over you and a super-strong insulated base under foot. While you can park your UTV on the trailer, they've tested much larger vehicles on this material to test its strength.

And because of the construction materials in the trailer, this thing actually floats in water when unoccupied. While they tested that, it's not recommended you do the same.

Since he got the concept down and started selling about a year ago, the business has now grown to about three full-time employees and a number of temporary staff when needed. And now instead of his garage in Bertha, the work is done just off Hwy 10 in Verndale at Brian Hagen's shop. Geis spoke with Hagen early on in the process and the two quickly formed a partnership to get the product to where it is now.

"He showed me his concepts and I got attached to it right away," Hagen said. "I thought it was not only a unique concept, I think the name itself is a huge marketing asset for the company."

The two are pleased with how the partnership has gone so far.

"I didn't really have expectations, I just wanted to do enough to stay busy and provide for my family," Geis said.

"It's been going very well," Hagen said. He thought that putting out a dozen the first year would be a good start, but they've pushed out more than 50 of them. They have dealers in Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin selling the product. They've also had inquiries from Nebraska, New Hampshire and Washington.

The business now manufactures three models, Lil' Foot (10 foot), Sasquatch (12 foot) and Beast (14 foot). Each offers various hole set ups that come standard or you can request custom hole patterns including spear holes. They even created one just for the Oshkosh, Wisc., folks who like to spear sturgeon, so it's got oversized spear holes. They've created a number based on the needs of pro staffers that like to move a lot and chase the fish around the lake. It's a simple design that they say can be set up and ready to fish out of in just five minutes.

Some of those pro staffers slept in a Black Hole Ice Shack during a 32-below zero weekend. Geis said a small Buddy Heater was all they needed to stay warm through the frigid fishing.

The product includes magnets in the fabric that seal the base of the shelter to the trailer, the setup can remain setup while traveling around on the ice.

The staff say they also sell a camouflage canvas that can be used to hunt or camp out of when the hard water season ends.

But as it appears we are a long ways from open water season, why not check out one of these unique ice fishing offerings, which start out around $3,999.

For more information, visit theblackholeiceshack.com to take a look at these various setups.

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