Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wistful Wednesday: 1969



This is Far Guy, his Mother wrote on this photo. It was indeed the day before we got married. Some couples may go out for romantic walks, we went to the fish/dark house together. As I recall it was fairly cold, well below zero. We just got the stove nicely started when I saw a huge Northern come in and tapped Far Guy on the knee..he waited..the spear sliced through the water..we had a monster Northern.. we guessed just about twenty pounds. ( I believe it officially weighed 19 pounds and 6 ounces) ..it was thrown outside to stay cool. (Ha!) A few minutes later another fish came in, this one was smaller, only about six pounds it joined it's larger relative outside on the ice. We continued to fish..I was a good decoy runner..we both kind of looked at each other and said "Suppose that big fish will cause some excitement, maybe we should high tail it out of here." It was common for other fisherman to make the rounds on the lake to see who was getting some action. It was also common for the Game Warden to come around if you had fish outside the fish house..and wouldn't you know it, neither of us had a fishing license. Just imagine the ruckus if we had been caught and thrown in jail!

We always enjoyed fishing in the winter. We usually had a dark house for spearing. For those of you who have never been in a dark house. A dark house is about 6x8 feet..it has a wooden floor with a square cut out that is about 2x3.. all the ice is removed from this hole...so that you can see down into the water. You sit in chairs or on wooden boxes and run the wooden decoy that is on fishing line that is held directly above the hole and attached to a stick. You move the decoy up and down to simulate swimming little fish to attract larger fish, which you spear!! The ice is fairly deep..some years when it is really cold it can appear to tunnel downward. There is always a little stove, either wood fired or propane to keep you toasty warm. The ice strainer hangs on a nail near the door and the spear is attached to a line that is tied to a hook in the wall. You can only spear Northern Pike..not Walleye Pike. Northerns are easily identified in the water..their snout is very distinctive and their coloring and body shape is different from Walleye. We used to take the girls with us spearing ..we tied ropes around their waists just in case they accidentally fell into the water. Spearing in a dark house takes patience..sometimes you sit there all day long and see only perch. We always took lunch with us..and coffee. The hardest part of having a dark house is keeping the hole open..you have to fish just about everyday in order to keep it from freezing solid again. Far Guy and I have been inside the dark house and fought over who was making it out the door first when muskrats came right up the hole into the house to visit. It isn't very funny at the time..but years later the thought is. Far Guy says "Those muskrats can scare the crap out of you." I agree especially if fishing is boring, and you start to relax and get sleepy. All of a sudden a very large dark wet creature wants your space. That one little door to the outside seems so small especially when two people try to exit at the same time. There is no "ladies first rule" who ever is closest to the door better bail out first or be flattened.

Dark house fishing in Minnesota is an adventure. A skill I learned as a child tagging along with my Father. Far Guy also learned the ropes from his Father and his Uncles. We still have lots of old decoys and the spear..and we even have a little propane fish house stove. Sometimes we talk about dark house fishing again..it is lots of work..dragging the house out onto the lake..fishing everyday. We both like to eat Northern that comes out of the cold water of winter..it has a flavor all it's own..summer fish taste nothing like winter fish:)

16 comments:

  1. Sounds darn romantic to me. I've never speared but have ice fished. I've never experienced a much excitement or action. I love the stories of the fish houses that sound more like condos, with TVs, couches, cots, and tables to play cards while waiting.

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  2. THE BEST TASTING FISH I'VE EVER EATEN CAME OUT OF THE COLD NORTHERN WATERS. WE HAVE WALLEYE AROUND HERE.HAVE A BLESSED DAY.

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  3. Great story! You had me hurrying to Google to see what the decoys look like

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  4. Wow! You just opened up my eyes to a totally new experience for me. I've always wondered what those little houses are set up on lakes. And what went on inside of them. Thanks for sharing this with your readers. I found it fascinating...and yes...romantic in it's own way. Sounds like a fun cozy way to be together. And the comraderie is something you'd never get in a fancy snooty restaurant.
    You and Far Guy are so blessed to have grown up learning how to do go winter fishing in a dark house.

    ~Lisa

    Ps Thanks for all the wonderful comments, encouragement, and words of advice you've given me over at my blog. They are what I needed to hear and are much appreciated :)


    ~Lisa

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  5. Yummmm...I can just smell that fresh fish in the frypan...I love them.

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  6. Very interesting - and funny! I never enjoyed fishing, probably because I don't like fish. But you make it sound like a wonderful adventure! However, I think after the first Muskrat encounter I would be done with fishing forever!

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  7. Ya had me interested 'till ya'll mentioned the muskrats bolting out of the hole in a closed up black house. I'm afraid the roof would have to come off if that happened to me. I'll stick with an open fishin' boat....thank you! LOL....Great story Connie.

    Have a great day! God bless :o)

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  8. Your romantic hobby has kept your marriage together.
    1: Far Guy is very handsome, you lucky gal.
    2: I have watched on TV about Dark house fishing, thanks for commentary.
    3: When watching the dark house, I am reminded when I was young, like in 1969, along the river where my grandparents lived, people have such small huts for women to bath.

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  9. This is the very first time that I have ever heard of dark house fishing.. He caught a very large fish. It was nice you took time out to go get married. Nice story.

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  10. It sounds like an interesting experience, but I would probably miss the fish and spear myself. I think I am better off fishing in the summer with a pole and line.

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  11. Hubby and I also did some fishing many years ago... I remember sitting there trying to be so quiet... Oh for memories!

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  12. My hubby, son and brother in law love to go ice fishing and they sure don't go in a house, brrrrr. I love fishing but I think I will stick to summer!

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  13. We grew up in dairy country and I prefer Angus beef to fish. The only fishing I ever did was deep sea fishing one time - - - and it stormed - the boat rocked and rolled - and I got SICK! Ice fishing doesn't sound like something I would like but it's obvious it's a perfect time for your family.

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  14. this is the first I've ever heard of that... really.

    One thing I want to mention, at first when you started to say you didn't have a license, I thought you were going to say marriage license (because of what his mom wrote on the photo)

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  15. First time visitor from my friend Rae's blog. Very nice and I alway enjoy seeing what other Minnesotans are up too! Thats one big northern. They are my #2 favorite fish after trout...naturally. We would head off to the BWCA in early summer for that purpose

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  16. Never heard of that...thanks so much for the info and Great picture!!!

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your comments! If you have a question I will try to answer it here. Connie