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Ice house drives itself to the fish

The amphibious vehicle designed by Tom Roering can scoot along the lake at 20 mph. Its camoflage topper works like a Jeep. It can be folded up and down as a convertible. Its hull goes up and down for easy entry into the water, or out of water onto thin ice. Hubbard County officials are looking it for ice rescues. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

If necessity is the mother of invention, then what's laziness?

An equally powerful motivational tool, says Tom Roering.

His Wilcraft Sportsman Vehicle was a huge hit at last weekend's Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Derby.

There are some products so nifty, they just sell themselves. A spin around Fish Hook Lake proved that. You jump behind the driver's wheel and steer your fish house to the fish. Need to get in tighter? Missed the hot spot? Put it in reverse.

Roering, who is looking to base his fledgling business in the Park Rapids area, was besieged by anglers as he drove his floating fish house around the ice.

The craft has three ice holes that are sealable; the hull holds a 600-pound load, is watertight with an insulated floor and has up to nearly a foot of ground clearance when driven on the lake. A hydraulic system lifts the body up and down, for launching into water or out.

Basically, Roering says, you can ice fish just about six months out of the year in one of these babies.

It has a two-speed gearbox and can scoot along at speeds up to 20 mph. It can also reverse.

The front, or back, depending on how it travels, has an auger mount.

Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes was taking a spin in it. Two incidents on icy lakes this winter have convinced him of its use as a rescue vehicle, which it doubles as.

It's got a fold-up top like a convertible to keep occupants out of the elements. It can come with snow skis, interior LED lights and a travel cover.

Aukes was captivated by its ability to get in and out of thin ice. Roering took county officials out on a lake and deliberately broke through thin ice. It floated nicely, after the occupants admitted to a brief scare.

Roering said laziness was his motivator. "I got tired of carrying all that gear out to my fishing spot," he said.

He calls it "the ultimate in mobile ice fishing."

Anglers called it "sweet."

Right now the company, Multifarious Inc., is based in St. Paul.

But Roering likes the north woods, where his amphibious vehicle seems right at home.

Prices start around $9,500. Aukes joked that he'd still order the fishing model if they needed an emergency vehicle.

"A couple fishing holes wouldn't be bad," he said.

Roering can be reached at 651-653-0534 or via cell phone at 651-343-4249.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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