WHY IT’S COOL: Pike spearing, known as “Norwegian TV” in some locales, can seem as tedious as a test pattern. You sit in a windowless house the size of a confessional booth on some bleak frozen lake, staring for hours at a hole in the ice. Then, without warning, it becomes as exciting as a bronco ride.
HOW IT WORKS: Instead of trying to convince a fish to bite a minnow or a jig, you lure pike into spear range with an 8-inch decoy that spirals and flits with every jerk of its tether. (Colorful replicas of perch, panfish and trout are popular in the West.) Then, when a northern swims beneath the ice shack to investigate, you thrust a heavy spear through the water and into the fish. If you’re in the right location, you can see dozens of fish in a morning; more 20-pound pike are taken by spears than by conventional ice techniques.
HOW TO DO IT: Set your house along main-lake points, at the edges of flats that drop into deeper water or on solid ice near springs and tributaries. These spots concentrate baitfish and are natural travel routes for big predators.
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MEDICINE LAKE This prairie pothole in northeastern Montana looks like a shanty town when pike come shallow. Spear in the Lake Creek arm just west of Highway 16.
KEYHOLE RESERVOIR Wyoming’s best pike fishery. Set up off the mouth of the Belle Fourche River.
NELSON RESERVOIR Home of Montana’s largest pike, this lake east of Malta produces a couple dozen 20-pounders every winter.
FORT PECK LAKE Another eastern Montana gem. The best spearing spots are in the lake’s Big Dry Arm.
Watchthe game, sip a beer, but always keep an eye on the hole. Once you spear a20-pound pike, things can get crazy in a hurry.