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bassNspear

Where Everyone going Opening Day Spearing?

283 posts in this topic

Just looking to see where everyone is going for opening day of spearing. That is if we have enuf ice!!!

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We will be going up north - near the border. Always ice up there for opener. How about you bass n spear?

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I will be heading up towards cass lake. We have been spearing for years on lakes that are draining off of cass or around the cass lake area. You can't spear on cass lake, but the lakes are are around cass are amazing. I live around the hutchinson area, greenleaf and collenwood have been lakes that i have had great luck on, just a matter if it will be clear enuf or not on these lakes.

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That sounds like a pretty good trip. If you every want to go around Hutch sometime let me know.

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Interesting that you chose to pose a question about spearing season on the muskies site - can't wait to see the backlash you will hear on this one! Of course, perhaps you did it as a joke, which will not stop some from giving you an earful.

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The forum is for Muskies and Pike. In years past spearing has been discussed on this forum - with respectful comments generated on this legal and very engaging winter activity.

I don't know anyone who tries to illegally spear muskies in MN. In michigan it is legal to spear muskies on some waters.

Guys and gals that spear like to connect with others who enjoy the sport. We are not into joking about it or trying to irritate people.

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Propster,

It is a muskie and PIKE forum, spearing is a legal way to take pike. I fish muskie a ton in the summer and fall, and when I can't fish muskie I spear pike for fun. It's a blast, and please don't knock it till you try it. Why would there be backlash about the spearing? French Lake is controversial in southern mn, cause it is a muskie fishery with few to any pike and they allow spearing. As for opener, I will be in 8ft. of water on pelican lake with my brand new custom weighted spear waiting for the big gator (and any of little buddies that come by)

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Just felt like adding my 2 cents....

As an adicted Muskie fisherman and conservationist ( I don't even keep walleyes or crappies for the table) I believe that there is nothing wrong with the sport of spearing and I can see the enjoyment. It is a very strong tradition in Minnesota. But I do know people that spear and I know for a fact that they have speared Muskies and I think that is wrong. To me its kind of like pheasant hunters that shoot hens. Its just one of those things that we have to leave to that persons ethics.

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Hiya -

Spearing is a somewhat controversial subject in some circles... Feel free to discuss it here, and even debate it if you like. But keep it civil please smile.gif

Cheers,

Rob Kimm

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First off i think that when it says Muskies-Pike, that we would be able to talk about it here. Second, im not the type of guy that will go out and spear everything for the heck of it, im looking for that gator everytime, and if the smaller pike come strolling by, im not apt to throw at it. Its for the fun of the game to see the fish come strolling in. Find a better thing in the winter to do then see a huge PIKE come strolling in!!

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First off, you have every right to spear as you choose. I just don't think that it's good for the lake when you remove the largest Pike from the system. I think that it will result in many stunted snakes. I would keep a 40+ inch range Pike for the wall, but like to release all Pike in the 28-40" size. I would spear all the small pike to reduce competition. No offence, but this is just my biased opinion affected by all the lakes I fish with an abundance of small Northerns.

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Big musk 411,

I stongly agree that lakes really need the big pike for balance. Personally, I like to try out of the way lakes up north without a lot of pressure. I am in favor of only one fish over 30" per day and in possesion. There are enough small pike for eating to let the big ones go. Watching them is the best part of the experience for me. Its not just the pike but all the bass, walleye, panfish, minnows, etc. You really learn a lot about fish behavior by watching what goes on down there. I believe it has also taught me a lot about enjoying the very basic nature of fishing and hunting free from gadgets and technology.

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I'll chime in as strong advocate for selective harvest. I am all for taking the smaller pike through spearing. As for the big ones, just know that you are doing potential damage to the average size of the fish in a fishery by taking them. Essentially you are practicing reverse selective harvest by eliminating the strongest in the gene pool. But I will also grant that with today’s culture of catch and release, we are doing far less damage than what was happening in the past and I think we are really starting to reap the rewards in some fisheries. Of course every lake’s ecosystem is different too. Some can handle losing more big pike, or any fish including sunnies for that matter, than others.

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I don't get it. What do you do with a big pike that you spear?

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I do agree with what your saying about taking smaller fish. I think that your right, by taking the smaller fish out of the lake will help the lake as well, but also helping the lake with a larger fish. I have also learned alot about the way the fish adapt to the lake, how they move around the structure of the lake, and visablity. It is crazy how they can move so darn fast. I agree with everyone on this matter. Does the DNR have a number on how many fish are taking in the winter when it comes to spearing pike?

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MJBo,

A lot of guys, myself included will only spear a big one 40"+ if they are going to put it on the wall. Most of us spear the smaller ones for pickling and deep frying. I won't spear anything 30-40" range that comes by, just a rule I go by, like releasing walleyes over 20"

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That makes sense. Hate to think of people killing multiple big pike over a season for a 30 second thrill and then just discarding the fish.

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I have friends that spear up in the Bemidji area but I’ve never tried it. They say that it’s really a cool experience watching the fish swim in. Like watching a big screen TV. I don’t want to knock it, but I personally really enjoy angling for large pike. The number of large pike has gone down in most MN lakes over the last 20 years and I can’t help but think spearing has something to do with that. There is no other time during the year when a sportsman knows where big pike are going to be more than in the winter. Their migratory patterns take them into shallow water and river inlets/outlets during this time of the year so they are not as hard to find. Is this cheating? Some people may think that it is. However, I can’t complain too much about it because I try to target big pike in those same areas as soon as the soft-water season opens. The only differences are that I’m hoping they are still there instead of knowing, and I can CPR them when angling. Doctor House couldn’t CPR a fish that has had a spear through it’s back!

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You are right to a point. The way that i look at it is that i will be able to watch a fish under the water in the dark house during the winter time that you would not be able to do in the summer. It is something that is amazing to see. I am out in my dark house almost every other day, not to go out and spear fish day in and day out, but to just watch and learn about it. I never of fish are going down i feel is becuase of the population of spearing. But as you may know, and pre posted above, alot of spearing men/women are not just taking smaller fish. Its a proven point that people are looking for that big one, yet when they see a fish at a smaller size there taking it.

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I've never been in a dark house with a big hole cut out. I bet it would be a cool experience seeing the fish.

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fishing014bt0.jpg

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Nice Pic. The thing that i dont like about that pic is that you have ice around the house inside the house. Cut that ice out to the edge of the floor. This way it will be warmer in the house, and you will not have reflections in the house. Also, cutting the hole with a hand saw close to the outside of the house, you will be able to throw the spear at a angle, to hit a fish on the run.

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Hiya -

Great discussion guys...

I'll be completely honest. I'm really torn in my attitude about spearing in a lot of ways.

I know a lot of muskie anglers are anti-spearing because of the perception that spearers will spear muskies. I suppose it happens (I know it does in fact - I've seen muskies with what are obvious spear wounds on them). But there are just some guys who spear anything that comes through the hole whether it's muskies, walleyes, or bass... They're no different than guys who keep over limits, double dip on daily limits, or fish out of season... You can't paint all spearers with that brush in any way.

I grew up sitting in a darkhouse with my grandfather, with a rope tied around my ankle in case I took a header down the hole. My grandpa used to call the spear hole a 'Norwegian TV Set.' It's fascinating watching different fish come through, of all species. I get the thrill, and the charm of it. To me it's more like deer hunting than angling. I don't spear anymore, but I really cherish those memories.

The flip side however is the potential for affecting the pike population, and as a result the entire fishery, pretty dramatically. Pike have a very unique population dynamic compared to other species. Larger pike are an extremely important population control on small pike, and when those larger pike are removed, pike populations can get extremely out of balance - the classic 'hammer handle' problem.

When that occurs, the entire fishery suffers. Overpopulation of small pike has a ripple effect through the entire fishery. When numbers of 15-19" pike go through the roof, perch populations nosedive. That in turn can affect walleye numbers. Not only do pike begin eating more YOY walleyes, there are fewer perch for the walleyes to eat as well. Pike, faced with increased competition for forage, expend their energy hunting, not growing, and so have a much lower chance of making the advancement from the 15-20" range (what would essentially be juvenile pike in a healthy system) to mature adult sizes - from 24-25 to 40 inches.

The challenge from a management perspective is that anglers, whether hook and line or darkhouse spearers, are extremely size selective on pike. The critical range of size for pike as they make the jump from hammer handle to quality fish seems to be the 24-28 inch range. If they can reach the mid 20-inch mark alive, they have a good shot at continuing to grow, because they can make the jump to larger forage species like larger suckers and cool water forage like ciscoes and whitefish. Their habits also change, away from shallow weedbeds to deeper, cooler water. Pike temerature tolerances and preferences change as they mature - what is optimal temperature for a juvenile pike is warm to the point of being stressful for mature pike. That's why bigger pike seem to disappear during the heat of summer on many lakes. The approach the DNR has found effective on many lakes is a protective slot limit on pike, with a 24-30 or 24-36 inch protected slot, usually with one over allowed. This regulation, which has been applied as either special or experimental regs on a number of lakes, has proven to be effective in protecting pike at the point in their development where they're making the jump in size and behavior from juvenile to mature pike. On some of the lakes with special pike regs, biologists are seeing pike population numbers they haven't seen since the 1950s, and walleye and perch numbers improve besides. Some lakes, because they don't have the forage capacity, cool water refuges with cool water forage, or because they have just too much spawning habitat, won't be anything but small pike lakes. But on fisheries with the capability to support quality pike, these regs can be extrordinarily effective.

The special regs are certainly an issue for spearers though. I think they're viewed by at least some spearers as a de facto spearing ban - pretty tough to tell the difference between a 22" or 32" (and thus legal) pike and a 24 or 30 incher that's protected by the slot. So special regs on pike have been vigorously opposed by the MDHA in some areas. I've written about special regs on pike in a few different publications, and gotten some serious 'fan mail' from a few spearers as a result.

So I'm clear, and to be fair, I think the same issues apply to ice anglers, and in their case the problem is likely worse just because of sheer numbers. Many of the methods used by ice pike anglers (Swedish hooks or other single hook swallow rigs below tip-ups) are just as lethal as a 5-tine spear, even if the fish is released. A study by Terry Margineau at the WI DNR found 33% mortality within 24 hours of pike caught on Swedish smelt hooks. So even on lakes with special pike regs, if anglers are using high mortality methods, the regs aren't as effective as they could be.

The bottom line is the interrelationship between spearing and pike management is horribly complex. I'm a huge supporter of better pike management, and that includes special regs limiting harvest of mid-size pike. But at the same time, spearing is part of my history too, and one I cherish... It's a tough deal.

Cheers,

Rob Kimm

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I understand everything that you are saying. Its somethign that alot of people dont understand that just taking the big pike out of a lake will hurt the lake more then anything. The fact is that when your talking about spearing, i feel that your right where you have to take most of the smaller fish.

For myself, I feel that there is nothing better then sitting in that hole and watching a fish swim in slow towards the decoy.

The best thing that the DNR did was place requirments towards spearing. To not let an angler in a dark house take more the one fish over 30 inches. This way it will push the anglers to make a huge decision on the size of the fish that they are going to be taken.

I believe that it will force the angler to take the smaller pike that are in the fishery to allow for a better population towards the bigger fish.

All in all, spearing has been in my family since i have been alive. All that i have to say is that its more of a rush then anything else.

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Cool picture. I had no idea that there were lakes that thick with cabbage in the winter.

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