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pitchn

Uninterested Pike?

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I've been watching pike on my camera in a bay on Mille Lacs for sometime now and it seems that later in the ice season the fish swim in- look a my sucker minnows and then just swim away. I have tried larger ones, smaller ones and shinners. I have also varied the depth and have had active minnows and non active, but still the same result. Early in the season they come in and take a swat at the bait and sometimes hit and sometimes not, but they do make a move. These late season fish all are swimming in at a 25 deg. angle and are looking at the bottom about 6' above the bottom...Any thoughts about what's going on??

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Stick some dead bait on the bottom, and I mean on the bottom. Smelt will do, but my favorite is large creek chubs caught during the summer and froze til they are to be used in the winter. Quick strike rig would probably be best.

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LPcrow...Will try the dead bait, Smelt if I can finf them..Heading over this am. Keep ya posted...

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Are you targeting just off the weed edges for dead bait?

I've been tossing tipups on edges and into the weeds like I do early season and it's not been working out very well. I'm wondering if the fish are moving away from the weed beds to search for dead fish.

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That seems normal, not every fish will take a bait. The later in the season the lazier they seem to get. 2 Things you can try are dead bait (I personally would avoid preserved bait, but some like it) or my favorite, cutting the tail of your sucker off. Both make a bait that is easier to catch. One puts out more flash and movement, one is well, dead still. The only dead bait I've ever had luck with is either a frozen smelt (they now have to be preserved), or a frozen sucker. The suckers that die, I just put in a bag and into the freezer. Another thing you can do if you really want to get technical is get the fish moving around. Have a tip up down, and drill 4 holes around the tip up about 20 yards from the tip up. Get a spoon (same as summer casting spoon), salmo chubby darter, or anything else flashy and noisy. Simply rip it up a few feet, and let it fall back down on slack line. If you see a mark on the flasher, start jigging gentler, and it doesn't take in about a minute, move to the next hole. It will often come follow. Keep moving, and sometimes lazy pike will get riled up and hit the sucker. Aggressive fish will come right in and smash your lure, most of the time before you even see it on the flasher.

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Just came back from the lake, did 10hrs.on the camera,,Found out my pike like to look at dead bait just as much as live. They also stare a lot at the camera. One thing that was interesting is that they are looking for stuff? (Bugs Worms?) in the mud and when they find one they nose down into the mud and get it. So much muck comes up when they do it that I can't see what it is that they are after. I saw a large pike almost completely vertical with it's head in the muddy bottom. They all look really fat and want nothing to do with any fish-type bait, dead or alive. I had always heard that pike can only look up so set our bait midway in the water column , I think this is not the case...Anyone know what there after?? I only see this later in the season. Im in 12 FOW on a weedbed edge.

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A few years back when spearing was closed a week before angling, this happened to me. I would angle in the spear hole and watch the northerns swim up to the sucker and nudge it and look like they smell it, but then swim away. That afternoon I went to a different bait shop and got more suckers. Before the new suckers were all the way down the northerns were attacking them. My conclusion was that there was some odor on the suckers from the one bait shop. Maybe they didn't clean their tanks as well was my theory. I still had some suckers from the first batch so I tried them again. Same result, they just nudged them and smelled them and then would swim away. Now I put a new sucker on and they would take it before I was ready. Just an old mans theory.

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I would also guess frogs. I seem to remember reading that Frogs become a major part of the Pike's diet in late winter when they begin to emerge from the mud. Seems to me it's a bit early but I have seen frogs breathing in open holes by stream mouths, etc. when there's still ice on the lakes.

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Could be frogs,I did not think of them, they winter in the mud. Also I did see some kind of worm-like thing emerge from the inside of a broken reed laying on the bottom just before dark but I would think it would not be much of a meal..Anybody that's cleaning pike ever look into their stomachs in the late season?

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I have a few times, and most of the time its half rotted. When I do find things, its usually either perch, or some minnow. I have seen sunfish, crappie, walleye, a frog, and even other pike. I'd say in my area 90% of what pike eat are little perch. Gotta love fire tiger color. Often I'll find my bait too if I use a circle hook. One thing, I have never found a hook, or even traces of a hook. The theory that you should cut your line is a death sentence. My guess is you are just in a tough bite. Usually the end of the season is the best time of year for me.

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Thanks for the original post. I too have seen pretty much the same thing. I saw it twice here this winter fishing Pelican by Albertville,Monticello. I may have put the details in a post over on that lake. In one case, one pike hung around for 15-20 minutes, sniffing the bait and my camera and just "hanging out".

In another instance a year or two ago, I was not even fishing - a musky came in and hung out with the camera for about 15 minutes. In all cases, they nudged the camera and sniffed it and looked right into it. It was pretty cool. Totally forgot about fishing.

Thanks to the rest of you for some potential fishing solutions. I'll have to try them next year as well.

Has anyone tried fish attractant like Trigger X on their live or dead bait?

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I think all of the fish "scents" sold are gimmicks. I've never seen any evidence they work. Your going to to much better, especially with pike, focusing on sight and vibration.

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I think all of the fish "scents" sold are gimmicks. I've never seen any evidence they work. Your going to to much better, especially with pike, focusing on sight and vibration.

For the most part yes they are gimmicks. But, a few years ago we where at South Temperance lake and nothing would bite. I put some gulp scented minnow spray on a blue fox and got a hit from a pike(got hung up and got off).

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Years ago I ran into a similar situation while deadbaiting in Ontario at ice out. We had an Aqua View set on our baits and the pike would swim up and just watch the bait for awhile without biting. Two actually smacked the camera with their tails. The guy I was fishing with rigged up under a float with a glowing jighead and that was all it took. Sometimes simple adjustments are all it takes to turn the corner. Good luck out there!

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I have a few times, and most of the time its half rotted. When I do find things, its usually either perch, or some minnow. I have seen sunfish, crappie, walleye, a frog, and even other pike. I'd say in my area 90% of what pike eat are little perch. Gotta love fire tiger color. Often I'll find my bait too if I use a circle hook. One thing, I have never found a hook, or even traces of a hook. The theory that you should cut your line is a death sentence. My guess is you are just in a tough bite. Usually the end of the season is the best time of year for me.

i have caught winter pike that had a crawler harness hanging out of there anal orifice, and appeared to be healthy.. used to help the dnr in the pike surveys and egg gathering and they said that hooks will disolve in short order.. these hadnt yet and were gold plated..

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sometimes when pike are lethargic a panfish presentation will seal the deal. i have caught pike up to 10 pounds on micro jigs tipped with wax worms or plastic.

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I bet I have cleaned 4 or 5 pike with jigs in all state of decay in their stomachs, and I don't keep pike all that often. A swallowed bait definitely isn't a death sentence.

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