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Bait depth for northern?


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Hey guys, I'm heading up to Lake Alex tomorrow, and I'm going to be setting up some tip ups for pike and walleye. I have always used sucker/shiner minnows and positioned them 12"-18" off the bottom in about 20' of water and done alright.

What are your opinions on how deep the live bait should be presented? I've been reading and debating with another buddy of mine, and it sounds like the sucker should only be suspended a couple feet below the ice (and not near the bottom) when fishing for pike. I'm fairly new to ice fishing, so I'm not sure what to believe! I know trying both and seeing what works better is probably best, but I wanted to see if you guys had strong opinions on either method.

What do you guys thinK...deep bait or shallow bait?!

Thanks in advance for helping me with this, and good luck out there...should be a great weekend for fishing!

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What do you guys thinK...deep bait or shallow bait?!

As far as a person that spears pike, i would say that your best beat is to suspend that bait. Reason i say that is becuase most of the pike that you see when you spear are never on the bottom. There always ither 1/3 or 1/2 way off the bottom. So i feel that tip up fishing, your best beat would be to suspend that bait for the most action.

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Thanks Bass! I have definitely read that from other spearers lately. There's just a lot of stuff out there that makes sense for both suspended and deep presentations.

Is there anyone else out there who has tried both shallow and deep presentations and has a preference?

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I mainly fish for them 2'-6' of bottom, in say 10'-18' of water. Last yr I tried shallower like 6' of water and only 2' below the ice. Wouldn't ya know it, caught some really nice ones shallow.

But then again also darn near lost my fingers once when I was setting up a flag in 15' of water, and just a few feet down, a nort took off with it. I think they'll come up a ways for the bait while cruising near bottom.


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Your question talks about walleye and your title says pike. For the pike I would say suspended.

When you tie in the walleye idea the plot thickens. Your 12-18" off the bottom in 20 FOW is a good idea, if you do that you will basically be walleye fishing with a shot at getting a pike (sucker or shiner). If you suspend the tip ups in 20 FOW then you are basically just pike fishing. As always let the fish tell you their mood, depending on how many guys you have you could methodically put out tip ups in different depths and see which are getting hit. Hope this helps.

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