These just might be the “good old days” of northern pike fishing in North Dakota, where populations of the toothy, hard-fighting fish are thriving in a record number of lakes.
Voracious predators, northern pike generally are eager to take the bait, but another popular option for taking the fish is darkhouse spearing. The pastime is gaining popularity in North Dakota, and last year, a record 3,339 participants registered to darkhouse spearfish.
That’s an increase of more than 1,000 from 2013, the Game and Fish Department reported.
Whether ice is safe enough remains to be seen, but North Dakota’s darkhouse spearing season opens Dec. 1 on most state waters. Minnesota’s darkhouse spearing season opened Nov. 15 on most inland waters.
In North Dakota, darkhouse spearfishing participants must register with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department before hitting the ice. Registering is easy and can be completed online at gf.nd.gov or through any Game and Fish Department office.
North Dakota’s darkhouse spearing season extends through March 15, while Minnesota’s season closes at the end of February. Legal fish in North Dakota are northern pike and nongame species; Minnesota also allows pike and nongame species, along with catfish (flathead catfish can’t be taken after Tuesday, when season for the species closes) and whitefish.
Darkhouse spearing in North Dakota is allowed for all residents with a valid fishing license and for residents younger than 16. Nonresidents can darkhouse spearfish in North Dakota if they are from states that offer the same privilege for North Dakota residents. Minnesota allows nonresidents to darkhouse spearfish.