Spear Houses First To Hit The Ice on Lake Of The Woods
Nov 28th, 2014 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Nov 28th, 2014 at 12:00 AM
Spear Houses are the First on the Ice
by Joe Henry
The first signs of ice up at The Walleye Capital of the World generates a lot of excitement. Ironically, the first species targeted is often the northern pike. With the backwater bays freezing over first and least effected by the wind, the ice gets thicker quicker and allows for some pike opportunities. Spear houses are typically the first out.
If you have never speared before, it’s kind of like deer hunting from a stand, except you are in a heated and comfortable dark house with a large rectangle hole cut into the ice in which you are looking for the pike. The house needs to be dark inside as it allows better viewing of the underwater world below.
To attract the pike, spearers use a decoy. This can be either a live offering, such as a big sucker minnow or an artificial bait that looks like a good sized fish that a pike would be interesting in eating. “I see spearers using about a 50/50 mix of live bait to artificial when they are spearing,” explains Roger Peterson of Roger’s Lake of the Woods Adventures. “My favorite decoy is red and white. The best way to work a decoy is to have the line that the decoy is attached to in your non dominant hand and your dominant hand ready with the spear. Pump the decoy up and down, keeping in moving. Bring it up a foot below the surface of the ice. Often times if a pike is watching it from the side, they may slide in or float up when you raise the decoy. When you have an opportunity to throw the spear at the pike, let it fly.”
“The decoy gets hit a lot. Pike will fly in out of nowhere and grab that decoy. If there are two or more pike watching the decoy, it seems that’s when the decoy has a higher chance of getting hit. Kind of the competition factor.”
Spears are another topic. “We do have spears that guests can use if they want to give this a try. We don’t stock a lot of spears because we find that spearers are very particular on the kind of spear they use. If it’s not the kind of spear they believe in, the prefer not to use it.”
Peterson has a spear house business in which he sets up spear houses, cuts the holes, heats up the dark house or spear house and transports guests to the door of the house. “We typically start shuttling guests out at daybreak and they normally spear all day. We check on them 2 or 3 times per day. If folks want lunch, we even deliver lunch to them.” He has 13 spearhouses, 4 doubles and 9 singles. “With the doubles, we have two spear holes in opposite walls of the house so two people can spear at the same time.”
“Guests often times see other fish besides pike while spearing. Walleyes, perch, and crappies are just a few that come through. On the right day in the right spot, it’s amazing how many walleyes will be coming through in that shallow water.”
“The largest pike speared last year was a 46 incher that weighed 27 pounds”, explains Peterson.
Spearing isn’t for everybody. For many, however, it is a tradition. A tradition that marks the start of another ice season getting out of the house and enjoying the wonders of a Lake of the Woods winter.