Darkhouse Spearfishing – An Introduction

In this new series John Kaczorek and Mark Norquist head out on the ice of northern Minnesota to share stories about darkhouse spearfishing.

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Click here to access all of the stories already published in this series.


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Other darkhouse spearing posts you might like:

Darkhouse spearing with Janis Putelis and Mark Norquist

Intro to the Hardwater Hunters Series

Craftsmanship of the Darkhouse Spear

Kalamojakka Fish Stew Recipe

Bru-ell Spearing Decoys

Pike Fever & The Lure of Spearfishing

Traditional Spearing of Lake Whitefish

Smoked Lake Whitefish with Herb Aioli Dressing

Smoked Lake Whitefish Dip

Lemon-Dill Cream Cheese Spread (accompaniment for smoked whitefish)

Insights on the History of Darkhouse Spearfishing Decoys (video)

How to smoke Lake Whitefish (video / Recipe)

Lake Whitefish Mousse Recipe

The Clam Stealth Spearfisher Pop-up Ice Shelter

Ice fishing has a long and storied history, and it’s no different with this niche within the ice fishing world. Over time there has been some controversy over the method. Some classic fishers who only use hook and line feel that darkhouse spearers take too many of the large northern pike in certain waters. With darkhouse spearing there is no “catch and release”, so there is some validity to this argument. However, if the method of spearing is practiced with good ethics and legal regulations are followed there should be no concern with this method of taking fish.

Another topic of discussion is whether eating the large apex predators often targeted with the spearing method is healthy. The concerns lie in whether these larger fish who eat smaller fish are harboring an unhealthy level of mercury, or other toxic substances. Generally speaking, larger fish contain more mercury than smaller fish. It’s also important to note that all fish most likely contain certain amounts of mercury, including fish that you buy in a store. A study published in 2008 looked at the level of mercury that was in Northern Pike livers. They studied 124 fish from inland lakes from Isle Royale, Michigan and found that “total mercury in livers increased exponentially compared with concentrations in fillets“. For those who like to eat northern pike livers (me being one of them), this is unfortunate news, but good insights to guide your eating habits. Each state has guidelines for how much fish a person should consume in their region. Here’s an example of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fish consumption guidelines.

At Modern Carnivore we wholeheartedly support this traditional method of fishing…which in actuality is more like hunting. #hardwaterhunters


The Clam Stealth Spearfisher portable pop-up ice shelter




Posted by Mark

Mark Norquist is Publisher and Editor of Modern Carnivore. He's spent a good part of his life outdoors. He has a passion for hunting, fishing, foraging and eating healthy food.