How to Ice Fish for Northern Pike

How to?Ice Fish for Northern Pike
Northern pike fishing through the ice is a challenge that many anglers take on every winter. The highlight of the ice-fishing season can be a trophy pike, with some of these fish weighing over 20 pounds in many states. To accomplish the task of bringing a pike onto the ice you need to have a basic knowledge of the tactics anglers employ to do so.


Difficulty: Challenging

How to Ice Fish for Northern Pike

Things You’ll Need:
  • Ice auger
  • Tip-ups
  • 40 pound test Dacron braided line
  • Steel leaders
  • No. 4 hooks
  • Shiners
  • Lip grip tool
Step 1
Drill a series of holes with your auger in a straight line about 20 yards apart on the ice. Try to place these holes at the edge of weed beds or off points of land that poke out into the lake or river bay. Do not worry if the water is shallow, as pike will cruise these waters in search of a meal, especially in the beginning and the end of winter.
Step 2
Go after northern pike with tip-ups. Rig your tip-ups with no less than 75 yards of 40-pound test line of the braided Dacron variety. Attach a steel leader to this line to prevent losing a pike after it is hooked. Pike have very sharp teeth that can chew through normal fishing line as well as fingers.
Step 3
Bait a No. 4 hook secured to the steel leader with a medium to large shiner, chub or sucker. Hook the baitfish behind its dorsal fin by pushing the point of the hook through the fleshy spot between its fin and the beginning of its tail.
Step 4
Set your bait beneath your tip-ups at varied depths. Put some bait just a foot beneath the ice. Put other bait inches off the bottom and some in between. Change your bait during the course of your outing to the depth that seems to be getting the most hits from pike.
Step 5
Move your tip-ups around if the action is slow or non-existent. Drill holes in other parts of the lake or in another direction from those not producing pike. For example, if you have holes going east to west try drilling some north to south in the same general area. Conversely, you can drill extra holes close to a tip-up that produces a strike by a pike and move a tip-up that has seen no action into it. Check your tip-ups frequently to make sure your bait is still on the hook and swimming free of weeds.
Step 6
If a flag goes up on one of your tip-ups, carefully ascertain if the line is out under the ice or if the reel is spinning. Take the tip-up out of the water if the fish is swimming away with the bait, hold onto the line and give it a hard tug in an attempt to set the hook. Play the fish until it tires and try to bring it headfirst up through the hole.

Tips & Warnings

Invest in a lip grip tool that can safely bring a pike through the hole and onto the ice. These tools keep your fingers away from the pike's mouth, and some models quickly weigh the fish and allow a rapid release to ensure the health of the pike.

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