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4/27/2017 Newsela | Keeping the art of spear shing alive in Minnesota

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KIDS (/articles/#/category/kids) (/articles/spearers-welcoming-youth/id/25885/quiz/) 2717 SHARE


Old-timers teach young people to spear sh in Minnesota


By Duluth News Tribune, adapted by Newsela sta
01.23.17

Brayden Jones, holding a sh, of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, shows o a northern pike he speared earlier in the day on January 7, 2017, at Big Jay Gould Lake near Cohasset.
Surrounding him (from left) are Weston Huntley, Philip Keenan, Alia Kuutti and Brendan Huntley. All are from Grand Rapids and were taking part in a Family Day on Ice
sponsored by the Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling Association. Sam Cook/Duluth News Tribune/TNS

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4/27/2017 Newsela | Keeping the art of spear shing alive in Minnesota
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Mike Best blames the fish. It is their fault that he loves fishing so much.

He has been darkhouse spearfishing since he was 10 years old. He is now 60.

Darkhouse spearing is when fishermen sit in a small, dark shelter on a frozen lake. First they cut a hole in the ice.
Next they drop bait to draw fish near the hole. Then they use their spear to catch the fish.

Best still remembers a special day fishing when he was just a kid. His dad speared a large fish that weighed as much
as a car tire. He was very proud.

"I got to carry it on my shoulder back to the landing," he remembers.

Mike Best was spearing again in early January. He was on a lake in Minnesota with about 75 others. They gathered
for "Family Day on Ice."

GettingMoreYoungPeopleToLearnAboutSpearing
The temperatures that day were around 0 degrees. There was also a cold wind blowing. But across the lake, spearing
houses on the ice were warm and toasty.

A dogsledder and his team gave free rides around the lake. A cook served hot dogs and baked beans out on the ice.

A gaggle of teenagers drank hot chocolate in a heated shelter. One of them, 13-year-old Brayden Jones, already has
speared a small northern pike. He's been spearing since he was 4.

In another shelter, Ellen Best, 23, and three friends watched a large fish swim beneath Best's bait.

The day's event is meant for young spearers like Brayden Jones and Ellen Best, said Rick Guertin. He is president of
a fishing group in Minnesota. The group wants more young people to learn about spearing.

Fewer young people are taking up spearing than before. This is true for other kinds of fishing and hunting, too.
Other fishing groups tried to do away with spearing, but the sport is still allowed. Spearing does have rules, though.

Darkhouse spearing is different than other kinds of fishing. Spearers must be in the dark so they can see into the
deep water. They sit in a chair next to a large hole in the ice. They use live or painted bait to draw fish to the opening
in the ice. The spearer then must decide whether to send the spear at the fish or let it swim away.

ANaturalAquarium
"It requires a lot more patience" than fishing with a pole, said spearer Paul Nelson. "You're so focused visually.
Then, all of a sudden, that fish comes in, and it instantly changes everything. It's much more like hunting."

All spearers talk about the excitement of drawing the fish to their bait.

"It's the rush when a fish comes in, the excitement," Mike Best said. "You get the choice of spearing or watching
them. It's just as exciting as when I was a boy."
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It can also be very peaceful. Spearers sit patiently and look through the ice into the water. It's like staring down into
a natural aquarium.

"It's so cool to be able to look at the bottom of the lake and see fish swimming around," said Addie Bona, 22.

Guertin hopes even more young people like Bona and her friends take up spearing.

"Spearfishing just kind of got to be a group of older fellows, and they just didn't pass it on to the next generation,"
Guertin said. "That's where we come in."

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