The Lil Hotdish

Introducing… the Lil Hotdish.

When I first saw the Lil Hotdish, it was far from love at first sight. I found it while scrolling through my Craigslist app looking for a fish house. Minnesotans love their fish houses. This one happened to be a camper that was converted to a fish house. It looked very shabby – and not the shabby chic kind of shabby. A matte grey painted wall with dents, broken windows, and plenty of water damage. But I saw the potential and so did my forever ice fishing partner aka husband, Nick. We had to have it.

Here are the befores. Oh boy.

We got it for $1500 and jokingly called it “the meth cooker.” Lol. Not totally funny, but kind of. It is what you’d expect in an episode of Breaking Bad. We were embarrassed to have it in our driveway. But with a TON of TLC, “the meth cooker” would soon become our Lil Hotdish.

It took around two months to get the Lil Hotdish into shape and bring back its vintage flare. So a little backstory on the vintage fish house camper: It’s a Monitor brand from Wakarusa, Indiana, 1960s era. Like I said, the original owner of the camper converted it to a fish house. The trailer bed is a crank down mechanism, which means we can lower the entire camper down close to the ice to ice fish.  There were five holes with covers on the floor for ice fishing (now there are four — I’ll explain why in a bit). There’s gas heater that vents to the outside to keep warm in the winter. It sleeps up to four people. There are two beds, one of which is actually a table and seating but converts to a bed. We’ll need a cot at some point because one of the beds is probably pushing it for two people.

We invested around $1000 to get it back into shape. Here is the renovation journey. I wish I took better pictures, but you know how it goes. You get in the moment of doing things and forget about photos. Everything we did was DIY.

Our biggest upgrades include:

  • New luan boards. The old walls were rotting and we found a colony of carpenter ants. Gross, I know! We killed them and put boric acid behind all the new walls.
  • A copper sink. I love copper so this was a bonus. It doesn’t require plumbing. It uses a foot pump to pump water through a hose and through the faucet. The water then goes into the drain and dumps into a grey water jug. We sacrificed one of the fishing holes to fit the sink in.
  • Wainscotting. This added such a cute, airy cottage feel to the inside.
  • New floor boards, laminate flooring, and trim
  • LED lights
  • Baby moon hubcaps
  • Exterior paint job from grey to teal/white/pink
  • New exterior trim
  • Adding a removable cooktop area for our new camping stove from Primus. We basically have a slab of heatproof tile that fits over the top of our heater. That’s our countertop. The Primus Tupike Stove is small and light enough to place on top of the makeshift countertop. More to come about this stove in a later post. It cooks wonders.

There were definitely issues we had to fix, like with the carpenter ants and wood rot. Ugh. Still gives me the goosebumps thinking about that. We patched up holes on the outside and added some new panels where it was needed, break lights were fixed, heater was fixed, broken windows were fixed, etc.

On December 2nd, we took the Lil Hotdish for a trek to northern Wisconsin where the family cabin is. The land is surrounded by lake and pines so we knew it would be the perfect spot to test everything out as a camper. We still have yet to take it out on the ice since the lake isn’t frozen yet.

Everything went so smoothly! We had the Christmas music cranked up and cooked up a mean “hotdish” on the good ol’ reliable Tupike. Hot cocoa, coffee, pancakes in the morning — I mean, it was perfect. Enjoy the remainder of the photos from the Lil Hotdish’s first excursion.

This teal beanie is the perfect addition to the holiday list for all lake lovers. 25% of all proceeds from hat sales go to Save the BWCA. Make a difference with Humble Apparel Co.: http://bit.ly/2B6wzaG

More adventures in the Lil Hotdish to come.



  1. That is so neat!!! You have every right to be proud of your “Lil Hotdish”!!!

  2. Nice job on the fish house. FishDonkey has a few ice tournaments I think yo u will be interested in:
    1. Ice Queen Virtual Tournamenet (women only)
    2. Nicole & Ana vs. YOU (Nicole Stone and Ana on Ice)
    3. Shack Slam by Catch Cover (fish from the Lil Hotdish!!)

    for more info or to sign up, you can start: https://www.fishdonkey.com/app

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