Winter is the time of year that ice fishing for pike becomes popular. Pike can be found throughout North American and Europe; they prefer colder waters and tend to spend their entire lives in water. When winter sets in, pike will stay active until the surface of a river or lake completely freezes over – which means they are open season once the water has iced over.
Since pike can handle living under very cold water, pike ice fishing is a lot easier than other types of ice fishing. When using a tip-up, or a flagging system to indicate a bite, it is common for the bait to be set near the bottom in deep water. The reason for this being that pike have a tendency to bury themselves in the sand and wait for food.
Pike like to sit in dark areas such as holes, drop offs, and under loose ice; but when looking for pike during winter you should look for marina lights or other types of open water that emits light. Pike will migrate from deeper waters to shallow ones, especially in late winter when the sun begins to shine longer and warmer on the ice.
Remove any loose or thin ice where you are planning to fish. Ensure that your ice fishing holes are at least fifteen-inches thick before setting out.
Most pike fishers will set out three rods per person; one rod used for flagging, one rod set out vertically with a jigging spoon, and the last rod will have a live bait attached. Remember to keep an eye on your flagging system because once you catch a fish, it is best to be prepared for the next.
There are a number of different types of equipment you can use for ice fishing, but many pike fishers will take a medium action rod and reel, with small to medium sized lures -shallow diving crank baits work well for this. You may also choose to go ice fishing with live bait such as night crawlers, but be prepared to lose some rigs if the pike are especially aggressive.
One of the most effective ways to find pike during winter is by using fish finders.
Find Suitable Spot
When looking for ice fishing locations, or prime spots to ice fish for pike, you want to find areas that have good water flow and natural food sources. This means that there should be rocks, logs, boulders or other structure around to attract crustaceans and other prey. Pike like to hold in these types of locations, and will be waiting for food to come by instead of chasing it throughout the water column.
Once you have found a good area, set up your rods so that they are not too close or too far apart from each other; most pike fishers tend to place rods about fifteen feet away from each other. Try to find a good bottom area where you will be able to fish the most effectively – this is usually not too deep or too shallow, but somewhere in between.
Pike are an aggressive species of fish so once you have found a prime spot, it is best to fish with smaller baits and lures instead of larger ones. Many ice fisherman will use jigging spoons like the Hildebrandt Rebel shallow diving crankbait, or similar alternatives.
Pike may lie on the bottom for extended periods of time before attacking, so it is suggested that you leave your rods in one spot until you catch a fish – then move the rods about ten to twenty feet after that, and place your flagging system in the same area as your lures.
Pike fishing during winter is a simple and easy way to catch these aggressive fish, but remember to keep an eye on your gear so it doesn’t become bait itself. It is advised to check all rods once or twice an hour, and keep an eye on your flagging system so you aren’t surprised by a bite.
Ice fishing can be a fun way to fish for pike if it is done properly, but remember that any thin or weak ice should not be used as there is always the possibility of falling through.
Be safe while ice fishing!