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how to catch big northern pike ice fishing插图

How to catch northern pike in the winter?

Hard-Water Fishing Can Be Amazing Ice fishing for northern pike can be a tremendous time. Northern pike aggressively feed all year long and oftentimes their most active time is during the winter. You can catch northern pike by jigging large jigs and spoons over deep dropoffs. You can also catch them with live bait under tip-up rigs.

What is the right way to catch big pike?

Ice fishing regularly produces trophy pike, which is why some anglers specialize in targeting big pike through the ice. The right way to do this can be broken down into two key steps: i) finding big pike, and ii) using the best strategy to catch them.

Where can I ice fish for northern pike?

You will find pike close to deep water with soft bottoms. They will also feed on crappies and perch so try fishing in areas that you find these species of fish. Check your local DNR websites for information on the lakes you want to ice fish for northern.

What is the best bait to catch northern pike?

You want to use dead baitfish and suspend it in the water. You can use any fish that a northern usually feeds on such as tullibee, whitefish, herring, eel, crappie. The smell and the non-movement of the bait attract northern pike like you wouldn’t believe.

What is the best line for pike fishing?

Line selection is very important in pike fishing. Select a line with minimal-to-no stretch. This lack of stretch will result in stronger hook sets and less chance of line failure.

What is a Northern Pike?

The northern pike is one of three North American pike family members. This torpedo-shaped terror has been called “water wolf” and “gators” by fishermen who chase them.

What bait to use for Northern pike?

This one may seem like a head-scratcher but a long nightcrawler can be a very effective northern pike bait. My recommendation is to hook it one time to the treble hook of a small spoon or casting jig.

How to let shiners swim?

Let the shiners swim freely by hooking them through the lip and not using any weights or striking indicating floats.

What bait do you use for pike?

Frogs are perhaps the toughest live bait to acquire in any number but they are crazy effective for northern pike. Hook the frog through the lip and fish it along lily pads and weed edges.

When to use a pike sucker?

Suckers work best in cooler months (early spring & late fall).

How to find fishable pike?

One key method for locating fishable pike is knowing where they like to hunt. Northern pike are ambush hunters. Rarely will you catch pike wandering in a lake’s abyss or relocating.

Northern Pike Tip-Up Fishing

An angler uses a sonar unit to determine the depth of his tip-up. Using a clip-on lead depth finder weight is cheaper to establish depth.

Northern Pike Gear & Bait For Winter Fishing

Most anglers prefer 20-40lb braided tip-up line because of the ice style line’s added thickness.

Where To Find Northern Pike In The Winter

Captain Josh Slawkin of the Bama Breeze fishing charters with a Lake Michgian northern pike.

What is the Best Bait for Ice Fishing Pike?

If you want a bigger class of northern pike, live baits are a must. If you don’t have access to live baits, fresh dead baits are also ideal.

Where do baitfish live in the winter?

Pike follow the baitfish in winter, and you’ll find the baitfish in the shallows where there is cover to be found in the form of weed beds.

What is fuel driven auger?

Fuel-driven augers are robust and penetrate thick ice with ease. There’s a significant trade-off, however, as they’re heavy, and require fuel to be carried.

What do we load up with for Northern Pike?

We load up with expensive kit, brave the blizzards, and punch the ice for northern pike of all sizes.

What is the most important aspect of fishing?

The most important aspect is to select likely locations. When you fish an area that holds fish, you are likely to succeed whatever your tactics.

What to take on the ice with you?

Take the critical stuff out on the ice with you, such as gloves and socks, hats, etc, and keep heavy jackets and spare boots in the car.

Why do people use hardwood tip ups?

Traditional hardwood tip-ups are preferred by many owing to their endurance, simplicity, and reliability. They are a little more expensive than plastic options, however.

The Fundamentals To Catching Northern Pike

If you plan on targeting big pike through the ice or otherwise, then you should learn the fundamentals. Knowing the habitats, feeding behavior, and what baits to use when fishing for pike can make all the difference of whether or not you are successful. Especially when ice fishing because it is not as easy to move spots when you’re on hard water.

Strategies For Drilling Holes When Ice Fishing

Now that we have gone over the basics of Northern Pike and where you can find them through the ice or otherwise, the next step is to drill your holes for your jigging rods and tip-up set up. Northern pike is found in most lakes and rivers so you shouldn’t have to go far to find your ideal ice fishing spot.

What Depth Should You Ice Fish For Northern Pike?

Pike can be found at almost any depth, but it is surprisingly common to find them in shallow water, even just a few feet beneath the surface. So, when you’re ice fishing for pike being in a range of 15 to 20 feet is ideal.

Ice Fishing Techniques For Northern Pike

There are two different fishing techniques you can execute when targeting pike through the ice. They are fishing with tip-ups or fishing with a jigging rod set up. Though many anglers will use a combination of both of these techniques.

Choosing The Best Pike Waters To Fish

Northern pike can be found in a wide range of waters from slow-moving streams and rivers (which make them a fun catch when fly fishing), shallow waters with weed beds, big natural lakes, reservoirs, and just clear, rocky, cooler waters.

Final Thoughts & Takeaways

Ice fishing is an incredible sport that will get you out and about during the winter, and it will keep avid anglers out of that fishing lull that can strike at this time of year. Instead of counting the days until spring and summer to go fishing again, get out on the ice and catch some fish!

Frequently Asked Questions

You can find the sweet spot in the water column that the pike will usually hang out at in between the 15 to 20-foot range. During early ice, they may be found shallower than that. When fishing at these depths also make sure you are around structures that the pike prefers because that will be your best way to find them.

What to do if a piggy pike doesn’t eat?

Sometimes it doesn’t, especially in cold water. If a fish won’t eat, try showing it a different fly or lure, or dropping your fly or lure to the bottom and giving it several feeble and enticing twitches. The Best Lures for Pike Big, piggy pike of the post-spawn are lethargic fish.

How to catch a pike with a minnow?

While pike will pick up dead and barely alive minnows from the bottom, I’ve always preferred to fish with my offering suspended under a float a foot or less above the bottom—right in the pike’s face. Large cigar floats are better since they’re easy to spot from a long way off and their elongated shape provides less water resistance for a pike than a bubble float or bobber, making the fish less likely to drop the bait. Add a couple split-shot 8 to 10 inches above the hook to hold the bait at the desired depth.

What temperature do pike spawn in?

Once the water temperature has reached into the upper 40s and lower 50-degree range, the pike will finish spawning and slowly work their way back to the main lake or river, remaining near the area where they spawned to recover and feed.

What is the best lure for piggy pike?

The Best Lures for Pike Big, piggy pike of the post-spawn are lethargic fish. While entirely capable of swallowing a duck or a muskrat whole, they much prefer smaller, slower, and easier to catch prey during this time of year.

How to fish live bait?

When I fish live bait, I stick a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook through the baitfish’s nose so that it stays alive longer and struggles more. When I fish dead baits, I hook a 2/0 or 3/0 treble hook through the minnow’s back. This gives it a livelier looking profile and lets the pike to take the bait headfirst.

How to find giant Northern pike?

How to Find Giant Northern Pike Shallow weedy bays in lakes or river backwaters in rivers, slow-moving tributaries or side channels are the first places to begin scouting for monster pike. In the early morning, when the water temperature is in the low to mid 50s, pike hold in the shallowest areas of these spots. When the water is clear enough and the sun is bright, you can actually spot pike from a boat or high banks laying in the sun like fat tourists on deck chairs, though it’s difficult to get them to strike at those times.

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What is the best bait for ice fishing for northern pike?

One of the most productive ice fishing techniques is dead sticking for pike. To dead stick, rig up your ice fishing combo with a live bait jig and a large shiner or sucker minnow. Suspend the lure a few feet to halfway up the water column.

Where can I find a big pike?

How to Find Giant Northern Pike Shallow weedy bays in lakes or river backwaters in rivers, slow-moving tributaries or side channels are the first places to begin scouting for monster pike. In the early morning, when the water temperature is in the low to mid 50s, pike hold in the shallowest areas of these spots.

Do pike like worms?

Just about all freshwater gamefish and baitfish alike, at least in North America, will eat a worm. For example, pike, muskies, chain pickerel, adult largemouth bass, and carp are not terribly interested in biting worms.

What is the best depth for ice fishing?

For many lakes, the best depth to start ice fishing is in the 8 to 20 foot zone. However, depending on the species, time of year and underwater structure, depths less than 5 feet or more than 20 feet might hold more fish.

Do pike feed off the bottom?

Pike being predators not only feed by scent but also by movement. This is very effective if your deadbait is popped up off the bottom, and you can move it as much as you want by pulling the line with your fingers until you feel that distinctive bang of a pike take.

What is a good lure for pike?

Pike absolutely love spinners of all kinds but the Mepps #5 or the big Blue Fox in silver, silver and blue, or gold work best. These produce well in any situation and work well in quickly casting and working an area. For pike, the smaller size- #5- definitely works better than the larger musky bucktails.

What bait do Northern pike like?

Northern Pike love baitfish like tullibee and whitefish. These two species of fish are high in calories. Pike will follow these baitfish around so where ever the tullibee and whitefish are the Northern pike will not be far behind. So a good thing to know is where these baitfish are.

Why do you cut slits in dead bait?

You will want to cut slits in the sides of the dead bait so that the juices mix in the water and cause more of the attracting aroma for the pike to sniff out. Also, dead baiting is usually done using a tip-up. A tip-up is used because you don’t want any abnormal movement from the bait. You will get too much movement with this method if you are holding a rod and reel. Dead fish don’t move.

What lures do Northern pike use?

Rig up a white tube skirt with jig head on it. Northern pike loves this type of rig lure because it jumps around like a worm gone insane and northern can’t resist the color of white in the winter because it can be seen so well under the ice.

Where do northern pike fish?

In mid-winter, the northern pike will follow the tullibee and whitefish out to deeper parts of the lake. You will find pike close to deep water with soft bottoms. They will also feed on crappies and perch so try fishing in areas that you find these species of fish.

Where to place tip ups on lake?

When using a tip-up, I will place it in the shallower spots on the lake and then jig with my rod and reel combo in the deeper areas of the lake. Don’t stray far from your tip-ups because there are regulations the DNR has on how far you can be from your tip-ups.

Is pike better in the winter?

I don’t know if it is just me, but I think pike tastes better in the winter. Pike in the summer is not as fresh-tasting which has to do with the warm temps. As a matter of fact, I think most fish tastes better when catching it under the ice.

Is it fun to fish with pike in the winter?

Pike is fun to fish especially in the winter, and they will put up quite the struggle which is fun and exhausting at the same time. At least you will get some winter exercising in and a delicious meal to boot after you catch the pike.

How to catch pike in the water?

A quick trip to the local bait shop is your best bet to get the most relevant information for the local body of water. Local bait shops will carry live bait for your use however some anglers question the use of dead bait for large pike. While most assume that live minnows would be better just remember pike are scavengers and predators. They regularly pick up and eat freshly killed baitfish off the bottom. A dead sucker, cisco, alewife, shad, goldeye or other oily baitfish is high on their preferences. Some fishermen will jig for pike using heavier duty jigging rods. Using lures such a the Lindy Darter or Frostee Spoon and jigging off the bottom can prove productive by attracting big pike to the area. Don’t forego the opportunity to target the schools of baitfish like perch and crappie while waiting for pike to bite. Bounce a Frostee tipped with minnows or wax worms about a foot from the bottom. Catching perch, bluegill or crappie is a good indication you have an area rich in food and it is just a matter of time before a pike hunts its way through.

How to ice fish for pike?

The goal is to cover as much surface area as legally allowed in order to maximize results. Start with one or two tip-ups in the shallower waters. For every 2-3 feet of increasing depth or every 20-30 yards, place a new tip-up and work towards the deeper water. React to the results depending on where the fish are biting. For example, if you are getting fish on the deeper set tip-ups, move some of the shallower sets to be even with the most active baits.

Where to fish for northern pike in winter?

Pike follow the bait schools during the winter into shallower waters. Large bays are some of the best spots to target winter northern pike. Specifically, you are trying to take advantage of a large weed flat that will readily hold baitfish. Diehard ice anglers say while any weed type is good, the best variety is cabbage in 5-15 feet of water. Weed flats can be found a few different ways and this is where your open water experience will come in handy. During the summer, marking where you find weed areas on your depth finder is the most effective and efficient way to have a productive ice-fishing season.

When to feed northern pike?

Pike feed aggressively during the winter and you can catch genuine trophy fish with time and patience. To target northern pike specifically during the winter months the gear and the strategy look different than in open water seasons.

What depth should you ice fish for pike?

If you’re fishing in shallow water under 20 feet deep, the best all around depth to target is in the middle of the water column, right between the bottom and the surface. Since the eyes of pike are positioned on top of their heads, they tend to look upwards in the water column, and a bait presentation in mid-water will attract pike both from the bottom and the middle layer of the water column.

What bait to use for pike ice fishing?

While both live bait and dead bait rigs for pike ice fishing were traditionally made with a metal leader (to avoid being cut by sharp pike teeth), many ice anglers nowadays prefer to use 50 to 80 lb test fluorocarbon instead, since this has much lower visibility underwater. Fluorocarbon is also more supple, which gives your baitfish more freedom to move around. But if you choose this option, just be aware that it doesn’t protect you 100% from getting your leader cut by pike teeth.

Why are pike active in the winter?

Since pike are coldwater fish, they remain active during the cold season and actively hunt forage during the whole winter, in order to build strength for their spawning season in spring. Because of this, they are an ideal species to target during the hard water season.

How to find pike on ice fishing?

If you have an ice fishing fish finder, that will also help you to find promising structures and concentrations of baitfish, and you’ll even be able to spot pike directly on your display . The best strategy is to start with a lake map, and then to scout out specific locations with your sonar. You want to see at least a decent amount of small fish before you commit to fishing in a particular spot.

How to see northerns in ice fishing?

An even better tool to use for this is an underwater camera, which is perfect for ice fishing, since you can lower it straight down into your ice hole, and then rotate it 360 degrees to see if you spot any northerns in the area.

How deep can you catch pike?

That being said, you can catch pike at all depths in winter, and sometimes will get the best results just a couple of feet below the ice, and at other times you’ll catch more fish close to the bottom. Which depth is best on any given day depends on where the pike are hunting their prey, and you’ll need to figure this out with testing and observation.

What fish can be used as dead bait?

Popular species of oily fish to use as dead bait include smelt, ciscoes, herring and tullibees. If you use these species, try to make sure that they are fresh, and avoid ones that have been frozen. Both their scent and their silvery colors are much more intense in fresh fish, making them much more effective at attracting northern pike.

Why are pike not picky?

The first reason for this is that pike are not all that picky when it comes to food. They are hunters, but they are also scavengers. They don’t need something to be alive to eat it. A tip-up, which usually suspends bait still underwater, does everything we need, then.

Why are spoon lures so cool?

Spoon lures are really cool because they flutter around wildly and reflect light in all directions. I often advise using them, and I repeat that advice again here. In this case, I add the recommendation that the spoon lures ought to be large.

How strong of a line do you need for pike fishing?

Not all your lines need to be this strong, but it’s good to have a 50 pound-test line as a “main” line so you’ll be ready for any massive pike that may be beneath the ice. If you’re lucky enough to find one, you’ll be glad you brought such strong line.

How to attract pike from yards away?

While pike like to stay put if they can, they will travel if they have a good reason to do so. You can attract large pike from many yards away by using a rattle lure.

What kind of fish can you catch with ice fishing?

One type of fish you can target when ice fishing that will make for a very fun day is the pike, which is more accurately called the northern pike . Pike are not hard to figure out, and they bite anytime the sun is up. To maximize your effectiveness in catching pike, follow these 21 tips.

Why do fish slow down?

A change in the shape of land causes fish to have to readjust their course. Doing so slows them down. For an ambusher like the pike, being able to catch a baitfish off-guard and a bit confused is ideal.

What is a leader in fishing?

A leader is an extra bit of fishing line you attach to the bottom of the rest of your line. It will go in the water first, which is why it’s called the leader.