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Dokken: Ice fishing from a limousine? Why not, eh? Limo fish house attracts attention on Rainy River

Vaughn Murray’s limo fish house, which is parked within casting distance of his dock on the Ontario side of the Rainy River, has four holes and electric heat.

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Vaughn Murray's limousine fish house sits on the Canadian side of the Rainy River near Rainy River, Ontario, and across the river from Baudette, Minnesota, on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.
Contributed / Vaughn Murray
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RAINY RIVER, Ontario — At first glance, the big white Lincoln covered with stickers and parked on the Canadian side of the Rainy River across from Baudette, Minnesota, might appear to be badly stuck in the snow.

A closer look would reveal a different picture: A limousine-turned-ice fishing house.

Brad Dokken
Brad Dokken

Wheeled ice fishing houses are all the rage these days, but a fish house that’s actually a working limousine takes the wheelhouse concept to a whole new level.

Just when you think you’ve seen everything.

The limousine fish house is the brainchild of Vaughn Murray, a Rainy River resident whose creation has been turning heads since it showed up on the ice of this Minnesota-Ontario border river earlier this month.

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A recent Facebook post with photos of the limo fish house has been shared more than 500 times and had more than 600 views in its first 12 hours, Murray says.

READ MORE FISHING COVERAGE:
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The action last Saturday was fair – no surprise, considering the weather – but it was good enough to keep things interesting.

“I think I’ve got something going here,” Murray said Tuesday, Jan. 18, in a phone interview. “My son-in-law rented it for me on Sunday (Jan. 16) to some of his friends who wanted it, and I’ve got probably a half a dozen calls from guys who want to rent it.

“I think it’s going to be a big ‘go.’”

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Vaughn Murray, pictured with his limousine fish house in the background Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, said he got the limousine, which still runs, from a neighbor who wanted the vehicle out of his yard.
Contributed / Vaughn Murray

Available for rent

Murray’s limo fish house, which is parked within casting distance of his dock, has four holes and electric heat fed by a long extension cord he runs from an outlet on his dock. He’ll rent the limo fish house for $100 a day (Canadian funds) and calls the venture “Fu-ken-eh Limousine Ice Fishing.”

The name, of course, is a play on words of a popular, though somewhat colorful Canadian phrase that can’t be used in a family newspaper, Murray says.

“It’s not swearing,” he said; not how he spells it, at least.

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Vaughn Murray's limousine fish house has electric heat and four holes. The interior will accommodate four anglers comfortably, Murray says.
Contributed / Vaughn Murray

A retired railroad conductor who spent 35 years with Canadian National Railway, Murray, 71, said he wanted to buy the limousine five years ago from a neighbor who had it sitting in his yard.

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The limo, a 1994 Lincoln, wasn’t for sale at the time, but that all changed when the neighbor sold the property, and a friend who worked with Murray on the railroad bought the place.

“I was over there seeing how he was fixing up the house and he said to me, ‘Do you want a car?’ and I said, ‘What car?’” Murray recalls. “He said, ‘that limousine,’ and I said, ‘well, how much do you want?’

“He said, ‘Just get it out of my yard.’”

The limo still runs, so Murray didn’t even have to pull it home.

“And so that’s how it all happened,” he said. “I knew what I was going to do — make a fish house out of it and rent it out, eh?”

Murray went to work on the limo during a recent cold snap, using a reciprocating saw with a metal-cutting blade to cut four holes in the floor. He then scrounged four pieces of 10-inch diameter PVC pipe for hole inserts.

The inserts accommodate 8-inch holes in the ice.

“You can fish four people in there, and it’s not crowded by any means,” he said.

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Because the limo runs, getting it onto the ice was easy, Murray says.

“There’s a road just 200 feet east of my house that goes right down to the river, so I plowed that and then plowed the ice to the spot off the end of my dock,” Murray said. “To get it down from my house here to where it’s parked on the ice, you’re only looking at 500-600 yards, eh?”

The limo is banked with snow to keep out the wind and covered with reflective safety stickers, along with stickers advertising various local businesses. A Chicago Blackhawks flag waves in the breeze behind the back bumper.

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Vaughn Murray's limousine fish house, seen here Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, sits just yards from his dock on the Canadian side of the Rainy River in Rainy River, Ontario.
Contributed / Vaughn Murray

“If a snow machine comes along the river, he’s going to see the safety stickers before he sees the car,” Murray said. “I’m going to decorate the whole outside of the car with stickers from anybody who wants to advertise, eh?

“If you got any stickers for Grand Forks Herald, get them to me, and I’ll put them on the car.”

Good fishing spot

The river is 16 to 17 feet deep in the spot where the limo is parked, about 400 yards downstream from the railroad bridge and the adjacent bridge that connects the communities of Baudette and Rainy River. It’s a good fishing spot, Murray says, especially in the spring and fall.

Murray has an 8-by-8-foot shack on his dock he calls his man cave. Even on nasty spring or fall days, Murray says, he can watch his line from the comfort of the man cave on his dock.

“I’ve lived in Rainy River all my life, but we bought this place 32 years ago, and I’m not going to lie to you. In 32 years, I’ve probably caught 15,000 walleyes off my dock – not in a boat, off my dock,” Murray said.

His biggest, he says, weighed 15 pounds.

“Between 5 and 15 pounds, I bet you I've caught 3,000 of them that big,” said Murray, who also guides on Lake of the Woods near Morson, Ontario, as an occasional retirement gig. “Like spring and fall, the fishing is just crazy.”

Murray, who played on a Bemidji old-timers hockey team before the pandemic, said American anglers have been especially enthusiastic about his limo fish house after seeing the recent Facebook post. Entering Canada remains a bit of a process, requiring full vaccination and proof of a negative Covid test taken no more than 72 hours before crossing the border. Until that changes, attracting U.S. anglers will be a challenge, but Murray says he also is encouraged by the response he’s gotten from Canadians to his limo fish house.

If this goes well, Murray says, he’s got an even bigger limo waiting in the wings to add to his fleet for next year.

“Like I say (to people), ‘You ever fish out of a limousine?’ No, nobody’s ever fished out of a limousine,” Murray said. “So I say, well, this will be a first, then.”

Fishing’s generally slower in the winter than in the spring and fall, he concedes, but if you’re fishing from the heated comfort of a limo, who cares, eh?

The novelty is part of the attraction, Murray says.

“I think a lot of people just want to say, ‘Hey, I’m fishing in a limousine here,’ and then (send photos) to all of their friends,” he said.

For more information, contact Murray at (807) 861-0303.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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