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vikingtom

Pike locations during winter

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Only time I caught pike was in 7 to 12 feet. Never really tried deep water. I don't like pike anyway. Walleyes,crappies,perch and sunnies are my game. 2 1/2 months should be able to walk out somewhere.
Go Fish

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Good topic PikeTipper! smile.gif

Early ice I try to focus on weeds and weededges. Reason for this is because panfish will relate to these areas, and small panfish too (aka pike snacks smile.gif) and you will see pike roaming these weeds. Narrows are good choices during early ice too, especially if there are weeds at the mouths of the openings. Fish will push out and hold in the weeds, but will not hesistate to roam the sparse weeds too. And some of these flats can be relatively large. These pike might also use the initial breaks depending on how deep the weeds go, or if the weeds die early. I tend to focus on deep water pike more towards mid-winter. Pike will follow their food, and their food will hold shallow during a good part of early ice. Shallow meaning 12 (or so) feet or less. Some lakes just don't experience heavy weed growth, or much weed growth at all for that matter, and you might find you pike relating to different areas. Take for instance Devils Lake in North Dakota...you will find a lot of pike relating to the sunken wood/stump fields. Although you can find weeds in Devils Lake, the wood tends to dominate at times and in different areas. Devils Lake is a huge body of water and might have numerous different "lake systems" throughout it though. Pike fishing at early ice can be phenomenal!

Midwinter is when I go deep(er). Pike will hold on inside turns and large points, as well as roam deeper holes and flats. Structure oreintated fish at this point. Pike will hold in certain areas believe it or not, and will roam less come midwinter. If you have a large bar that is in 10 feet and drops off into 40 feet of water, you might have a prime spot throughout all midwinter. These pike relating to this spot have the best of both worlds. Available shallow and deep water, along with available food and open water. Baitfish as well as other "panfish," perch included, will relate to these areas and will make up some of the pike's diet. The pike will hold off the bottom too, holding on the breaks of the bar is not uncommon for a pike, and big pike too. This is when punching a series of holes over the bar, breaks and base come into play. I like to hole hop for these pike jigging 1/4 or 1/2oz spoons tipped with a minnow head, or else a jigging rapala. I'll also place a tip-up on the bar. Pike will also relate to rocks during midwinter.

Late ice brings back the notion of early ice. Pike will begin to move back shallow(er) and will feed heavily again. A lot of big pike are caught during late ice, seems to me like this is the best time for big pike up on Lake of the Woods. When the pike move back into the shallow water they are looking to feed. I'm not going to establish a certain depth because it might vary from body of water to body of water.

What about deadbait vs. livebait? What are some prefferences?


Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson

------------------
Matt Johnson Outdoors
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Metro Area Ice Fishing and more...

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Matt hits the nail on the head here. You're really not going to find a much better explanation that that. But, as has been said, every lake is different, and weather patterns can play a big factor as well.
Also, don't ignore Matt's mention of rock piles. A lot of people give up on pike after the early ice bite, but they can be found stacked in numbers and size around rock humps and points in mid-winter and you can often have even better success during this time, if you can find an area that attracts schools of panfish, you can find a time pike will feed there.
As far as deadbait vs. live, I always use live.(Unless they die in the bucket!) I just can't make myself opt for a minnow that doesn't have motion on its side as an attractant.

Good topic!

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Any suggestions on when jigging for pike is better then setting out tip-ups? I used both methods last year, and only caught fish on the tip-ups. I tryed raps and spoons tipped with a minnow head but never got a bite.Shawn

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This is where my Aquaview has really helped me. Last couple of winters it seems Pike will hit my tip ups very aggressively but they charge my jig and stop and stare at it without hitting. By watching them on camera I found out that pulling the jig up a couple of feet usually gets them to strike or even just start reeling in and they will hit it on the way up. This doesn't always work of course but it seemed to work more than not to trigger a strike.

Live bait vs Dead bait - I have always used live bait but I'm going to give dead bait a try this year. I've read a few different articles that state that the very large Pike turn into scavengers and would prefer an easy dead meal to having to chase one down.

Anyone ever have luck with dead bait?

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I've caught pike on both tipups and jigging at the same time as I am sure many others have as well. Jigging - tipped w/minnow head works well. Tip up w/live bait never failed me. Caught a pike jigging last year mid winter. Not a big deal except he also had my favorite jig hanging out the side of his mouth that he 'borrowed' from me 15 minutes earlier. Thanked him for returning it and sent him on his way. Man's best friend!

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Dead vs. Live

If you want numbers of Pike, go with live bait. If you want BIG Pike!!, go with dead bait. I believe this typically applies to later ice Pike. The big females are just looking for an easy meal and scooping up a nice dead cisco is a good way to satisfy the appetite.

LOW article I read last winter, can't remember the source was discussing fishing out on the reefs 12, 16 mile etc where it is 30+ feet deep and fishing a dead bait right below the ice for big Pike. Their success rate was surprisingly high. Apparently the Pike are cruising right under the ice looking for those 12" saugers that were brought up too fast and then released again but unable to swim back down. Another easy meal for those big fish.

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Ive had good luck with smelt on tip-ups in midwinter, set as close to open water on a feeder stream as safely possible. Set it a foot or so from the bottom seems to work the best. Shawn

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Piketipper,

I do most of my Pike fishing up north- LOW, Red, etc. We get our Ciscoes & Suckers at Denny's in Roseau. The gas station in Blackduck has some nice Herring as well. I just buy a bunch and keep them frozen until I need them. I've got a little playmate cooler that I've turned into the dead bait cooler. After you've used it once for this purpose, you wouldn't want to put your lunch in there again wink.gif I would think most good bait shops would have frozen cisco, smelt, herring.

You are right about the Pike turning into scavengers, especially later in the winter. Give it a shot! We'll typically go 50/50 on the tip-ups with suckers and dead bait and see which ones get hit more often and then change up to 100% if there is a preference. Sometimes we'll go 50/50 on the bottom and just under the ice to see what is working as far as depth also.

Here's a dead bait Pike. (I've posted this pic before, I'm going to get some new ones this winter hopefully. Come on ICE!!!)

47b4da35b3127ccebced6bd84ed40000001610

[This message has been edited by hanson (edited 09-08-2004).]

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Deadbait vs. Livebait, my thoughts are very similar to hanson. Deadbait for big fish, livebait for smaller and more numbers of fish. But, you can and will still catch bigger fish on livebait though, but large smelt/cisco deadbaits are great for big pike during midwinter. Although my biggest pike came off jigging a live shiner on a quick-strike rig smile.gif

Jigging vs. tip-ups, I prefer to use both at the same time when I'm on a hardcore pike hunt. This way you can cover more water and pinpoint where the fish are roaming--patterning the fish. I like to place the tip-up in shallower water while I fish deeper jigging. (Shallow is all relative depending on where I'm fishing) Shallow might mean 15 feet and deep might mean 40 feet, or shallow might mean 4 feet and deep might mean 8 feet, and so on.

hanson,
Good point about the pike feeding right below the ice, I've seen that a few times in the past. I think we talked about this one last winter too. Those pike are feeding on deadfish. I've had days where I'll be sight fishing for panfish in 3 or 4 feet of water and as I'm reeling up a fish I'll see a pike glide by underneath the hole, or it will grab my fish.

This brings up the point that don't sell yourself short by fishing only one depth, make sure you cover, or atleast look at, the entire water column. Baitfish and forage will use the entire water column, and pike will follow those baitfish. How many times have you watched a school of baitfish on flasher, only to watch a solid red line show up in middle and the school scatters...those are pikers and skies smile.gif and often times they are BIG fish too!

Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson

------------------
Matt Johnson Outdoors
[email protected]
Metro Area Ice Fishing and more...

Iceleaders
Catch-N Tackle and Bio-Bait
MarCum
Stone Legacy
JR's Tackle
Fish Fever

[This message has been edited by Matt Johnson (edited 09-08-2004).]

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My only experience with fishing for Pike on a 10 inch lake was LOW last winter. The group was fishing with deadbait, just touching, or maybe a couple inches off the bottom in 6-12 feet of water (including ice). We didn't catch much but the smallest of the pike that we caught was 32 inches. The biggest? Don't know. We couldn't get it through the 10 inch hole!

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Man, you couldn't have explained it better Matt! smile.gif pikehunter, you couldn't be more right about Pike being up on rock piles. I have noticed that you won't have the shear numbers on Pike on rock piles like you'll on weelines and flats. But the majority of Pike I've come across on rock piles are monters. The smallest Pike I've ever caught on a rock pile measured 32".

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Ok I'll try this here. What is everyones ideal location for icing Pike both early and late ice? Do you fish any weed line or look for inside turns? Anyone fish deep water?

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The lake I usually fish in the winter has nice pike in it. Not a lot of structure, however.

I've had the best luck with dead suckers. Usually mid to late winter. I smack their heads on the ice until they are dead then drop em down and let them set on the bottom. This is in about 5' of water. Every now and then I'll bounce the sucker off the bottom. I've seen on the camera it stirs up the bottom, then a pike will come by real slow, open it's mouth and kind of just scoop it in. It's really cool to see.

I have to agree with the fellas that say the dead baits get the bigger pike. I don't usually catch hammer handles this way.

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boilerguy,

How deep does the lake get that you fish? The lake I usually fish has very little structure and only gets down to about 15'. I always fish it early ice and catch them in about 5' but I haven't really tried for them later in the winter and I was wondering if I should stay up in 5' or do you think they move deeper?

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pike tipper,My lake (Lime lake in SW MN) only gets to be about 8' deep. No real weed beds, some places a murky bottom, some a hard bottom. This lake is absolutely packed full of minnows and is also a real good lake for perch in the winter. No real structure, but a lot of food for the pike.

I always stay at about the 5' mark. I've tried both deeper and shallower at different times of the year without a lot of luck. That's not saying they arn't there, I just didn't catch em. Good chance every lake is different. I'm just really used to this particular lake.

When I do move to a different spot on the lake I still stay at about the 5' mark. It just seems to be the magic depth for me.

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Last winter I had more pike hit one to two feet under the ice then I ever had. It didn't matter if it was 6 feet of water or 15 feet. We also had lots of fish about a foot off the bottom. Like Matt stated it all depends on the lake, time of year, weather and how you are fishing.

Great Posts guys, this is great!!

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Alright, this is my fist post on one of these things so hopefully this works, On using dead bait for northerns, I'm curious as to what size of dead bait are we talking. I mean are these dead ciscos or suckers are they 4 - 6 inches long or are they 8-10 inches, what size has worked best for you in the past for bigger northerns, also are these baits frozen when you put them in the water or if you have them frozen do you thaw them out at all? Or just fresh dead ones. Thanks

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Haven't had much time to keep up on the posts lately but I meant to reply to this post.

We use dead bait exclusivly in the winter months, we usually fish deep water, anywhere from 12 - 22 feet and generally find alot of the bigger fish coming from deep water. Thats not to say we don't catch northern pike jigging for walleyes, that happens from time to time but the pike we target seem to like dead bait the best.

We use some bait Dad gets ahold of, he orders it in by the pallet and supplies quite a few bait shops in northern MN with this stuff. He does sell it outright but the shipping usually costs too much so he will point you in the direction of a bait shop that handles the stuff. I'll see if I can get a pic up here.

image07.jpg

[This message has been edited by MN Mike (edited 09-14-2004).]

[This message has been edited by MN Mike (edited 09-14-2004).]

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Welcome to Fishing Minnesota Muskie11 and good questions!

For big pike deadbait I'll use smelt, cisco or suckers. The size can vary depending how you are fishing it. For tip-ups I like to use about 6-8 inch bait in most cases, but up-sizing to even a 10 inch bait isn't uncommon. You can use frozen bait, but I like mine to be somewhat thawed out. You can use freshbait and kill them before dropping them down the hole too, that will work just fine. The reason I prefer smelt and ciscos are because they are very oily fish, and provide a lot of scent and attraction for roaming pike.

Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson

------------------
Matt Johnson Outdoors
[email protected]
Metro Area Ice Fishing and more...

Iceleaders
Catch-N Tackle and Bio-Bait
MarCum
Stone Legacy
JR's Tackle
Fish Fever

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Muskie 11, welcome.

I use the real scientific method. I go to the bait shop and say,"a dozen suckers, please." Then I pretty much use the size they give me. However, I kill em right before I hook em. I have no idea if that works better or not. Old habits are hard to break, ya know?

I've found that the dead suckers bring the bigger pike. However, I've caught tiny pike on big suckers.

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