backroads ice fishing village

Minnesotans had to pull their fish houses off the ice several weeks ago at the end of the Walleye and Northern Pike fishing season. You can still angle through the ice for sunfish and crappies; but you’ll have to wait until next year to spear for Northerns or angle for Walleyes from the relative comfort of your fish house.

We call them fish houses, although they aren’t; but who wants to call them little houses that we fish from?

We also close the door tight and put a covering over the windows. We call those dark houses. But even with the window and door sealed tight, it’s magically light in there. If you live in Minnesota and haven’t looked at the bottom of a lake through a hole in the ice while sitting in your dark house with a fire in the stove, you must do that next winter. It’s just as cool as watching the northern lights shimmer in the sky.

I know that you serious fisher-persons disagree with me, but I’d say just looking down into that hole and watching the occasional school of Perch go through is a special treat all by itself. Now, if you add a decoy dancing up and down six feet below you, you’ve truly got something way-better than You Tube.

Some Northern Pike hit that decoy so fast and hard you never see them coming and you barely saw them go. They leave your heart beating, your adrenaline juiced up, and your spear where it was before that wild green tiger of a fish roared through your spear hole. 

Northerns are like tigers for their ferocity. Also because they lay and wait patiently for their prey and leap on it in an explosion of movement. That Northern which surprised you so much that you almost fell in your hole had been waiting, just outside your vision, to ambush your decoy for some time. 

The Northerns that ease slowly into your hole, gills moving, tail flicking ever so gently, are the ones you want. You’re an ambush predator too — and you wait, spear half into the water, and NOW! There is a swirl of silt on the lake bottom and you’ve got it. 

If you want to try your luck at dark house fishing, or just peering through a hole, the Minnesota Dark House and Angling Association has plans for an inexpensive shelter on their website. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has lots of good advice (and fishing regulations) at its website:

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