Northern Pike Ice Fishing Decoy

Northern Pike Ice Fishing Decoy

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Description (Brief)
Carved wooden ice fishing decoy in the shape of a Northern Pike was made by the donor, Mel Aaserude, a spear fisherman from Northern Minnesota. Fish decoys are used in ice fishing in which a fisherman cuts a hole into the ice of a frozen lake, lowers the decoy into the hole on a string to attract the fish and then spears the fish when it comes to the surface of the water. While spearing fish is illegal in most states, some of the northern most states, such as Minnesota and Wisconsin allow this form of fishing to continue. Fish decoys are usually hand carved from a strong wood, such as white pine but which is still soft enough to carve. The fins are usually made from aluminum and an exact amount of molten lead, specific to each fish, is added for ballast to allow the decoy to sink but still maintain a horizontal float pattern. According to the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum, carved fish are one of the earliest forms of American folk art which traces the practice back to 1,000 A.D. when hunters in the Bering Sea first used small bone or ivory decoys for ice fishing.
Currently not on view
Object Name
decoy, ice fishing
Aaserude, Mel
Aaserude, Mel
place made
United States: Minnesota, Cass Lake
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (fins; hook material)
paint (overall material)
plastic (eyes material)
overall: 6.4 cm x 7.8 cm x 21.9 cm; 2 17/32 in x 3 1/16 in x 8 5/8 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Mel Aaserude
Ice Fishing
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Sport and Leisure
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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