Darkhouse Spearfishing Opens in North Dakota | VideoJoel Porter | 12/1/2012
Four inches. That`s what Jeff Hedstrom and Monty Liberda found as they ventured past the jagged shards of ice on the shoreline onto the melted surface of Rice Lake for an afternoon of ice fishing.
"We measured it. I won`t go less than three. So we measured and made sure. I drilled a lot of holes on the way out to find out," Hedstrom said.
"I was reluctant to even come on the ice, because I saw some pressure ridges on the shoreline there. You can tell there was a lot of wind out here lately," Liberda said.
With their tip-ups in place and rods in hand, on this particular day, the two Bismarck men had the lake to themselves.
"It`s therapy. You can go to a psychiatrist or you can come out here and relax. And there`s vehicles coming by all the time on highway 83, but it`s nice. It`s peaceful," Liberda said.
That may not be the case for long. Cold nights followed by frosty mornings have created a few inches of ice across the state.
"Overnight, it`s getting down into the 20s and teens. And we`re starting to form ice and the ice is getting stronger every day. So we`re starting to see quite a bit of activity," NDGF fisheries management section leader Scott Gangl said.
Gangl says after three high water years, anglers in North Dakota will find record opportunity coupled with high populations of both perch and northern pike, North Dakota`s state fish.
"The pike grow a lot faster if they get into a place where there`s some food, maybe some fathead minnows in there. And they`ll grow pretty fast. So we see around the state, a lot of four to six to eight pound pike right now just from the last few years," Gangl said.
After a few hours on the ice, Hedstrom and Liberda pull a pike and a perch, making for a skunk-free day. But what they`re really waiting for happens as the sun`s going down.
"We`re hoping before dark we get that pre-dark walleye bite. That`s what our hope is," Hedstrom said.
Fortunately for the two anglers, the weather on this particular day is one factor that`s cooperating.
Anglers are not allowed to darkhouse spearfish on any bodies of water where muskellunge are found.
That includes 11 bodies of water in North Dakota, including Lake Audobon, New Johns Lake and Sweet Briar Dam.