5 Tips for Ice Spearing

Ice spearing is among the oldest forms of fishing, still practiced by many anglers each winter, in northern climates.

Ice or darkhouse spearing takes skill, determination and patience to be successful. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or an ice spearing novice, these five tips will improve your odds for success.


One of the most important aspects of ice spearing is keeping your surroundings dark, so you get the best possible view of what is going on in the water below you. A solid darkhouse, with all cracks sealed to prevent light from entering, is the best choice. Make sure your darkhouse is wide enough to allow you to lay down on the ice and maneuver around the hole. And while darkhouses tend to be more permanent structures, make sure it is portable enough for you to move if a location is not productive.


A key to successful ice spearing is being able to see what is going on in the water. Ideally, choose a location that has a light colored bottom, such as sand. This will make it much easier to see fish from above. If your lake only has a dark, muddy bottom, try sprinkling egg shells on the bottom below. This allow you to better see when a fish is approaching your hole.


Another essential is a good spear. Heavier spears work better, because the weight will help ensure the spines go into the fish when it hits. A spear in the 8-pound range is ideal. You also want to choose a spear that moves easily through the water. Experiment with different types to find one that works well.


Of course, as with other forms of fishing, your bait is one of the most important aspects for success. You should carry a variety of decoys in different shapes, sizes and colors. Pick decoys that have good action in the water.  For color, think of colors that work in regular fishing, for the species you are pursuing.  For example, if you are spearing northern pike, try realistic decoys of suckers or small northern pike, or decoys painted red and white.

How you work your decoys can also play a big role in success. Keep your decoy moving to attract curious fish. Try swimming your decoy sideways or jigging it. Try sudden movements or a circular motion. Once a fish is moving toward your decoy, slow it down, to smaller, more subtle movements, until it is within striking distance.


One of the best tips for spearing fish it to throw the spear when the fish is facing away from you. This will reduce the odds of the fish seeing your motion as you throw the spear. Ideally you want to hit the fish in the back of the head. For best results, keep your spear in the water at all times, so you are prepared when a fish approaches.