The spearing season in Minnesota ends this Sunday, Feb. 23, at sunset. Anglers can continue to fish for walleyes and northern pike until midnight on that day.
The spearing season was a very good one for me. I went 20 times since early December and speared an average of one fish on average 17 of those 20 outings. The minimum size for pike is 24 inches and the daily limit is two per day.
Many fish eaters will throw rocks at the thought of eating northern pike. The fact of the matter is this is just plain ridiculous. If you can watch a YouTube video you, too, can learn how to remove the Y-bones from a pike, and they eat just fine. My outdoor cohort, Les Johnson, will boil a boneless northern fillet to just barley done and then melt butter over it and he says they taste fabulous.
Any angling or dark house spearing shelter needs to be removed from the lake by March 2. This can be a challenge depending on how deep the snow is on the lake.
The last time I was out, a full-size truck could not fall through the snow crust. It was just like concrete. My snowmobiling friend had to shut down his ride the other day because there was not enough loose snow to lubricate the track slides on his machine. He also needed a good chiropractor after just a short ride on Tuesday afternoon.
This last fall I equipped my Polaris Ranger with a set of tracks. They look like a miniature version of tank treads.
There was no place I was unable to go. I even got brave and drove up on the top of a 10-foot-high snow bank and only sank in about six inches. This should make removing my house a lot easier.
You do need to pay a lot more attention to your shelters this time of year. The sun’s rays are stronger in late February and can melt enough snow or ice to create a shallow pool around the house. This often is no issue as it takes a long time to melt 24 inches of ice, and it often re-freezes overnight.
The issue that can arise if the wind starts blowing, it will ripple that inch of water, and moving water melts ice, until it actually melts a hole completely through. I have seen more than a few houses bobbing in the water as a result of a 48-hour wind.
It’s also why most ice shacks or spear houses are painted white. The white reflects the sunlight away and does not absorb and create heat on the house. It helps reduce the sun/wind melting combo.
It is illegal to just drag your house off the lake and leave it at the boat landing until you decide to haul it home. You are looking for a citation if you do that. You also need to remove all of the blocking material you used on the ice.
Most bigger houses are actually lowered down onto six inches or more of solid blocking material. That keeps the house up off the ice surface and keeps it from freezing down if the water starts to come up out of the angling or spearing holes. It is most often caused by the weight of many tons of snow on the ice pushing it just lower than the water level was when it froze.
The next point is also the law but really should not need to be said. Pick up all of the trash and garbage you drug out on the ice. There is nothing worse than an ice shack landfill left to fall to the bottom of the lake when the ice thaws. I have not seen a lot of it lately, but there is always that one or two people who think others are put on earth to pick up their junk. Leave the ice just like you found it.
It is hard to believe, but in 45 days we will be doing prescribed fires to improve grassland habitats.
The seasons change as time marches on. The open water fishing season opens on May 9. I am planning on my annual trip to Upper Red Lake at the end of May with my son and son in law.
There is something to be said of the satisfaction that exists as you anticipate your next outdoor adventure. The best part of an outdoor lifestyle is that there is always something to do or at least be looking forward to doing.