How to Ice Fish for Northern Pike

How to Ice Fish for Northern Pike
The northern pike has been called a "wolf of the water" by some outdoorsmen and for good reason. It has a mouth full of sharp teeth and a streamlined body. It's difficult for prey to escape from the northern pike. It is a favorite target of ice fishermen in the parts of the U.S. where lakes and river coves freeze over.


Difficulty: Challenging

Step 1
Purchase a number of polar tip-ups. These tip-ups fit snugly over a hole in the ice and prevent it from freezing. They have a long flag that pops up in the air when a fish grabs the bait, causing the trigger arm to spin, releasing the flag from a notched top.
Step 2
Rig the tip-ups with a 25-pound test ice fishing line. Spool your tip-ups with a braided nylon line and make sure you have at least 25 yards of line on your tip-up. Use a No. 4 hook or a treble hook snapped onto a wire leader. Choose nylon-coated wire leaders that are 8 inches to a foot in length and have a barrel swivel on one end, which you tie the line to with a cinch knot and an interlocking snap on the other end where the hook goes.
Step 3
Place the tip-ups in holes drilled through the ice where you know the edge of the weeds were when you fished that spot in the summer. Pike patrol areas such as this looking for bait fish. Pike can also be found off points of land that jut out into the water and in river coves. Use a medium to large shiner, hooked through the area to the rear of its dorsal fin. Pike shiners or small suckers can also be used as bait but are not necessary to catch big pike. Drill your holes with a hand ice auger or a gas or electric powered one. An 8-inch-wide hole is sufficiently large to get the fish through. A straight line of holes drilled 5 to 10 yards apart allows you to cover a large area of water.
Step 4
Set your tip-ups with the shiners at different depths. Some can be set just below the surface of the ice while others should be farther down, with a couple perhaps only a foot off of the bottom.
Step 5
Allow the fish some time to swim before setting the hook once it has grabbed the shiner and tripped the flag. Pike have a habit of making off with bait before finally turning around and trying to swallow it whole--and always headfirst. Let the fish run for a bit before pulling hard on the line after removing the tip-up from the hole.
Step 6
Avoid letting the line that you are retrieving become tangled as you start to pull in the fish by hand. The line will need to be clear if the fish is large and decides to make a run. Maneuver the pike toward the hole slowly and do not try to force it upward and through the hole if it still has fight left in it.
Step 7
Pull the pike headfirst from the hole. Be sure not to put your bare hand in the fish's mouth because it will make quick work of your fingers with its razor-sharp teeth. Use a gripping tool to latch onto the pike's mouth and clear it from the hole. Handle the fish as little as possible while removing the hook if you intend on returning it to the water.

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