My buddy Mitch simply referred to as me. “A giant pike is eyeing my sucker,” he says, watching the motion on the AquaVu underwater digital camera we now have rigged in our ice shack. “Oh man, he simply smoked it…Gotta go!” A couple of minutes later, I obtain a textual content: “34 inches and thick” together with a photograph. That is why the late-season is the most effective time to focus on monster pike.
Residing by a harsh, north-country winter is the one approach to actually perceive the affect of these first spring-like days in February and March. Just lately, temps right here in Minnesota topped out within the higher 40s, and it was sufficient to persuade a dude who lives simply up the highway from our cabin to interrupt out his swimsuit and a garden chair and spend an hour sunning atop a foot of melting snow. He isn’t the one creature responding to the warming climate, both. Pike throughout the ice belt are abandoning their deep, mid-lake winter haunts and shifting towards shallow spawning areas—and that’s precisely the place you wish to goal them by the ice. Right here’s a fast sport plan.
1) Be taught The place to Look For Late-Winter Pike
The important thing proper now could be finding the prime stopping factors for shifting fish. A number of the greatest embody deeper weed edges outdoors shallow spawning bays. Rocky factors and sunken islands may even maintain pike, this time of yr. A very good lake map will make it easier to find these areas, however your problem is organising the place the pike are literally going to be. Bear in mind, depth is relative. In clear lakes, 35 toes isn’t too deep to carry late-season pike, although I often fish shallower. Pike in turbid lakes, the place weed progress could finish at simply 6 or 7 toes, might be discovered as shallow as 2-3 toes.
2) Use The Greatest Deal with For Northern Pike
I broke off the primary large pike I hooked by the ice, however realized a priceless lesson within the course of—match the deal with to the fish. I run tip-ups virtually completely this time of yr, every with a quick-strike rig. For a primary line, I like heavier braids like 50-pound Berkley X5 because it’s sturdy and simple to grip, even with chilly palms. For leaders, I am going with near-invisible fluorocarbon like clear Berkley Vanish in 40-pound check. Fluoro is far more abrasion-resistant than mono, and appears to generate extra strikes than wire leaders. For hooks, I like smaller trebles, like heavy-wire No. 4s. They do an amazing job hooking and holding pike, with much less hazard of grabbing ice if you lastly get the fish to the outlet.
3) Choose the Proper Tip-Up
Years again, whereas chasing shallow-water pike on Lake of the Woods for a Stone Cold Fishing TV section, we observed one thing peculiar. Most of our bites have been approaching spherical “thermal” tip-ups versus the rail-style tip-ups. At first, I believed it was a location factor or a distinction in baits. Then, we lowered an underwater digital camera to seize video as we landed a giant pike, and it grew to become instantly obvious what the problem was: gentle was coming by the holes with the skinny, rail-style tip-ups. In distinction, these with the hole-covering thermal tip-up had just about zero gentle coming by the outlet. We mounted the issue utilizing a bit of cardboard to dam gentle on holes with rail tip-ups and chew numbers elevated.
4) Use the Proper Bait for Late-Winter Pike
It’s taken me years to embrace the truth that pike are scavengers in addition to predators. It seemingly goes again to the numerous years I’ve chased smaller pike, that are way more aggressive than giant pike. Now, I give the fish a selection, rigging dwell baits (usually giant sucker minnows) on one tip-up and a useless bait (usually a frozen ciscoe) on the opposite, and let the fish inform me what they need. When fishing dwell bait, I take advantage of heavier weight positioned close to the bait to restrict motion and make it simpler for a pike to get the bait.
Learn Subsequent: Spear and Trembling: The Ancient Art of Stabbing Pike Through the Ice
5) Pay Consideration to Particulars
When fishing for late-winter pike, place your baits all through the water column to find out if the fish reply greatest to a specific place. At occasions, pike prefer to trip the underside of the ice to select off useless fish that float up. A pike’s eyes are positioned close to the highest of its head, making it simpler to lookup, so use that to your benefit. Additionally, keep cool if you lastly hook that monster. I’ve seen too many anglers get excited a few large fish and lose it just because they have been too tense to battle it rigorously.