How to Use a Fish Decoy

How to Use a Fish Decoy
A fish decoy is usually a wooden carving of a fish, although they are sometimes made of plastic. Decoys are used in spearfishing through the ice. A decoy is fitted with a line tie, which is a loop on the top of the decoy to which the angler ties a fishing line. The line attaches to a pole, enabling the angler to maneuver the decoy through the water and attract fish that come to investigate its movements.


Difficulty: Moderate

How to Use a Fish Decoy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Ice saw
  • Ice tongs
  • Shovel
  • Decoy fish, pole, fishing line
  • Spear
  • Darkhouse
  • Bucket or container
Step 1
Purchase or make a fish decoy. Decoy fish can be quite colorful, since fish tend to be attracted to bright colors. Generally, the length of the decoy should not be bigger than the length of the fish you want to catch. Many decoys resemble a species of bait fish and are designed to attract the fish that prey on that species; however, successful decoys are not required to have a real-life counterpart. Many anglers bring a few different decoys along on spearfishing expeditions, and they see what works for which fish. Once you have your decoys, find a place where spearfishing is allowed and choose a spot on the ice.
Step 2
Cut a hole in the ice. Although this step seems easy, ice fishing is typically done through ice at least five inches thick. Make sure your ice saw is sharp. The hole should be large enough for you easily to pull a fish through. Usually a hole that is twice the size of the fish you want to catch is sufficient. Once you cut through the ice, be sure to remove the ice blocks with the ice tongs. Use the shovel to remove excess slush in order to leave an open, unobstructed hole.
Step 3
Set up your darkhouse. A darkhouse is a makeshift shanty used for ice fishing. This temporary structure has a roof and four walls and is used to keep the light out while you are fishing over a hole. Your darkhouse should be big enough to give you space to sit and stand comfortably. If you have any companions, they should be able to fit in your darkhouse without compromising the darkness. Your eyes will take a few minutes to get used to the darkness, but once they do, it will be easy to see the fish in the water. The point of a darkhouse is to keep light out, so in most instances a tent will not work.
Step 4
Use your decoy fish. Make sure your decoy fish is attached firmly to the pole via the line. Slowly lower the fish to the bottom of the hole and bring it back up toward the surface of the water. Sometimes a couple of passes down and then up towards the surface are needed to attract the attention of the fish you seek to spear.
Step 5
Watch the area around the decoy. Once the fish you are hunting comes close to the surface, drop your spear swiftly in the water. Make certain you bring the fish out quickly and trap it against the ice on the floor of the darkhouse if it appears to be wriggling free of your spear. Many ice anglers use a pitchfork-type spear to increase their chances of success.
Step 6
Secure the fish in the bucket or container and continue fishing. Many anglers keep their caught fish in containers outside of the darkhouse to conserve space inside.

Tips & Warnings

Be sure to check the fishing regulations of your state. Some states require that you register with them before you begin spearfishing through the ice. Some states limit the type of fish that can be speared, and they may restrict spearfishing to certain lakes.

Article Written By Shannon Crawford

Shannon Crawford concentrates her writing in the fields of law and business. A certified paralegal, Crawford holds a master's degree in marketing. She has been writing for various websites and publications since 1991. Her work has appeared in a national print publication and numerous local newspapers. She frequently writes about all things financial.

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