Northern pike are a handful under any conditions but especially so when being played under the ice. Armed with rows of sharp teeth, the pike is not to be trifled with if an angler is fortunate enough to get him up through his hole in the ice. By trying certain things and being properly equipped, a fisherman can put himself face to face with these predators.
Pike will eat anything that they can swallow, so any bait will be at risk once lowered under the ice. However, large shiners will work best as other fish are more likely to ignore them and leave them for the pike to chew on. While live bait that has been hooked behind the dorsal fin and swimming well will be attractive to pike, they will also have no problem hitting shiners that have died on the hook. The razor sharp teeth of the pike make it prudent to have a steel leader tied to your 25 to 40 pound test braided ice fishing line to avoid the fish biting through and escaping while being played.
Once a tip-up's flag goes up it is paramount to walk to it rather than run, despite the excitement that surrounds a possible pike on the line. Pike can be spooked by the sounds on the ice above and drop the bait before being hooked. A pike will typically swim a distance with a shiner before turning it and swallowing it whole. If the line is peeling off the tip-up's reel, the angler needs to set the hook hard. If the line is simply extended out under the ice but not moving the pike may still be on; by pulling in the slack slowly and feeling for the weight of the fish a hook set may be possible. As line is being brought in while the fish is being played it is vital to remember to keep the line untangled as it is being laid down on the ice just in case the fish decides to make a late run as it nears the hole. The strength of a pike will eventually ebb during the course of the battle but the fisherman must not force the issue and simply try to pull the pike up through the hole in rapid fashion as this will result in a lost fish, more often than not.
No piece of ice fishing equipment is more important to someone that targets northern pike than a lip grip tool which can allow the angler to grab the fish by its lip without putting his or her fingers at risk. These tools also come if so desired with digital scales, making it possible to lift the fish from the hole and weigh it in one motion. Some models even have a tape measure attached. letting the fish be both weighed and measured quickly, minimizing the time it is on the ice for those that practice catch and release. As the pike is maneuvered to the hole and brought up through it head first, someone using this tool can insure a clean catch.