posted on December 08, 2006 08:24
Northern Pike Spearing - All you have to do is throw a fork -- it's too simple.
That’s the line a lot of my buddies give me when I ask them to go northern spearing.
First, you better know a real good lake for northern’s. Then you better have one intimate relationship with a vegetation strip that abuts an underwater rising shelf up to a very shallow depth. I'm talking here, of seven feet or less in the dark tannic acid stained water that is so prevalent in northeastern Minnesota. These can be boreal forest frog ponds or the famed lakes that really need no mention. Sitting just somewhere or anywhere on a lake waiting for a pike to swim past can get old.
In either case you a looking for a spot. You’re not spearing the entire lake. Cutting a 20 inch wide by thirty six inch long hole through as much as a foot of ice does not bode well for spearing. This is not run and gun crappie fishing. This is where learning one particular lake and its specific structure during the soft water season really pays in fillets. If you make one cut, just shove the block under and push it away from your hole. Small chunks you can set on the lake surface but they are heavy.
With all the mapping technology available today and some online resources such as Minnesota DNR lake finder you can rough in spots as a last resort. But setting up in the tried and true summer haunts of northern pike has always worked best for the spear shack I sit in most often.
Some common sense stuff really helps here. You cannot spear at night. If the sun has set, Lights camera action is over for the day. Walleyes will start to fire up at dusk. Spearing is generally all done by dusk. Illumination from the snow, even on the cloudiest days with a completely darkened shack interior and you have the green watery television set on. When the fishing movie hits a full action scene you’ve got the water wolf cruising just below the shimmering liquid screen.
Little northern’s or big ancient black backed pike can ghost into your spearing hole or explode into the decoy so bad it better be tethered with a steel leader. This is also a great place to have a rubber snubber (perhaps from a planer board you use in the summer for trolling); it will absorb the shock of full force northern pike. Just tie off to the roof of your spear shack with some spider wire and put the snubber in between the steel leader and the main tether.
Keeping your spear immersed at all times so the little swish sound created by throwing the spear gives you a split second advantage. You’re going to want and need that advantage. Northern’s have instantaneous speed. Neutral to ninety is how fast they can be in, and back out of sight. Sharp spears are not optional. Razored tangs will mean success.
Your spear lanyard length is personal preference but at least to the lake bottom depth if you or the kid you take with accidentally drops it.
Now for the sight picture.
Whether you chose a live decoy or your own custom hand carved, maybe an off the shelf plastic job, you want it to dance and swim circular as it falls. Refection and motion is attraction to the curious or hungry pike. One example of a HUNGER strike by northern’s for me; pike cruise in and at a moderate clip, they hit and just keep going. When the northern comes in slow, it's fun to watch how they react.
The CURIOUS strike is two fold. First you get the pike that ghosts into the hole, just pulses by the decoy and then hits it or swims away. The second type of strike will launch you out of your chair. Pure wild energy and the water beneath you erupts. At best you may get to see only pieces of fish and the disappearing decoy with a boiling of bubbles. It gets my heart going.
So whether you’re spearing some two pounders for grinding for fish cakes or maybe a wall hanger for filleting the tail, all you gotta do, is throw a fork on steroids, in the precise spot and at the perfect time.
Online resource with credit to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Karl "Trout Whisperer" Seckinger
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