There are many intriguing aspects to spearing northern pike.
The laws surrounding the activity have changed a lot over the past 20 years. In the past it was illegal to fish with a spear and use a tip up outside the house at the same time. But this is no longer the case.
The spear is considered one line and the tip up the second line. Minnesota allows only one line per fisherman during open water periods, but you can use two lines through the ice. Some states, such as Nebraska, allow five lines per person when hard water fishing.
It was also once illegal to angle out of a dark house if you were spearing at the same time. Both of these practices are now allowed. You can swim a decoy for a pike and still angle with a panfish rod. When you see a big panfish cruising through, you can coax it with a wax worm or other bait and get the best of both worlds at the same time.
You cannot use a live or dead panfish as a northern pike spearing bait, though. If you could, I am sure it would work really well.
Spearing is a daytime-only activity. Unlike angling that can be successful 24 hours a day, spearing requires enough light to penetrate the ice in order to see. When the sun gets close to the horizon, the spearer is done for the day.
When you look down the spearing hole and see a fish, it is not exactly where you see it. The light refracts off the surface of the water and distorts the image a little.
An example would be when you put the spear in the water halfway, the tips of spear will appear to bend at the water’s edge and angle off about 15 degrees. This means if you are trying to hit a fish that is not directly below you, the spear needs to be directed a little high or low depending on where the fish is and the deflection of the image that you see. The farther the fish is away, the more adjustment you will need to make. In 2-5 feet of water, this does not come into play, but in 10 feet of depth or more it is a pretty big deal.
Most spearing decoys are made of wood with metal fins. It is a pretty good idea to carry a magnet in your box in case the spear actually cuts the decoy line on a bad throw.
Everyone who has ever speared much can attest that this does happen.
Another thing to keep in mind is, because the decoys are generally made of wood, you need to make sure you bring the decoy box into the house every night and allow those decoys to completely dry out.
If they are left wet in the box, the moisture will soak through the paint and waterlog and ruin the decoy. Anytime the paint starts to flake off, it is usually because they were left wet for too long.
Just like every other kind of fishing, the fish’s mood will change from day to day. Some days the pike want a flashy decoy and other days they will only come for a dull colored natural looking bait.
This is why some avid spearers carry a box about as big as a musky fisherman’s tackle box. It is in an effort to have many different colors and shapes of decoys in order to be able to show the fish many different choices that they will come in to inspect.
I always wished I could just leave the heat on in my spear house so I did not have to chop open the hole every time I went out. We used to do this all the time until it became clear that dark house break-ins were a common thing. If you lock the door, they wreck it to get in and steal your stuff, and if you don’t lock it, they just open the door and steal your stuff.
I never had a satellite TV or other valuables like many others do, but it has become a fact of life that you will need to chop open the hole each time.
If the hole freezes over completely, it is easier to just move the house six feet than it is to run and auger inside the house and inhale all of the fumes in the process. You do need to purchase a spear house license every year, and they cost $15 plus the vendor fee.
They need to be attached on the outside of the house with either your name and address or your social security number or your MN DNR customer number in two-inch letters. This way they know who to call if you leave a bunch of garbage on the lake.
My house is ready to go. Only time will tell if this is going to be a great season or something else. Either way, it is better than sitting on the couch.