Catching Big and Small Pike Through The Ice
Have you ever been sitting around with your ice fishing buddies talking about the same old stories, about the same old lakes and the species that are in them? I know I have and it gets a little boring. Maybe you are just like me where you have that favorite lake that holds trophy lake trout and walleye and you just can’t get away from it, or you have some remote back lake that nobody is ever on that’s just full of brook trout or splake and you just want something different. Well that’s when the northern pike becomes a great option. Seeing that pike are wide spread throughout the globe, it’s not very hard to locate them since they are plentiful in many lakes. A great time to target them is thru the ice in the winter months. Here are a few tips and pointers that will help you catch more pike thru the ice on a consistent basis.
First off you want to do some research on the lake you are going to fish. Is it a shallow weedy lake with mostly just weed flats and gently sloping contours, or is it a deep shoal oriented lake with not many weeds but deep points and sunken shoals? Is it a lake that holds perch, sunfish or crappies, or is it a lake that holds whitefish, cisco or smelt, and furthermore what do you want to be rewarded with? Is it numbers of four to eight pounders, or do you simply want that twenty plus trophy? Getting the most information you can about a certain lake you want to fish, will pay dividends for you, and will increase your chances of catching size and numbers of fish you want dramatically.
Let’s say you want to catch trophy pike above the 20lb mark. Heading to a lake like the Orangeville reservoir or Little Lake in Barrie is just not going to cut it. These types of lakes are not very deep. They are full of weeds and have an abundance of small perch and minnows as forage. These types of lakes are not your typical trophy pike lakes. I’m not saying you will never catch a big pike in these types of lakes, just that your odds for that true trophy are slim. On the other hand if you want to catch plenty of pike three to seven pounds, these are ideal lakes to catch them in as they are usually abundant with small pike.
Ok, so now that we have determined that fishing small lakes usually twenty feet deep or less are not going to get you that monster pike, what lakes will you ask? Well, that’s simple. A lake that is bigger in size and depth like Nipissing, Georgian Bay, and a number of inland lakes throughout the Muskoka and Parry Sound districts are ideal for catching those big pike. Big pike want big bait! It’s that simple. And since these types of lakes typically have a depth of up to a hundred feet and more, and hold whitefish, cisco and many more species of larger fish as forage, making them prime lakes for pike to grow trophy size.
A Couple of My Techniques for Catching Them
There are various techniques and baits that will catch you pike. The method I prefer and use the most for catching trophy pike is dead sticking. This is when I use the tip up method with a flag indicator that allows you to be notified when a fish has taken your bait. This type of rig is ideal when using a quick strike rig, with dead bait such as smelt, herring or sardines. Another fun method is with four to five inch live river shiners or chub on a willow tree branch, simply looped over the branch on 15lb test monofilament line. One thing about this technique is if you’re not paying attention, pike will pull your stick down far enough where your line will pop off the end, so you could miss the hit. Therefore, make sure your spool of line can flow freely on the ice in case this happens.
Depths You Should Concentrate On
When fishing small shallower lakes, twenty feet or less, you want to concentrate on the transition areas between the shallow flat to the deep flat. For example, five feet of water with a nice gradual slope to ten feet, around points, islands or the saddle between a shallow bay. If you can find good weed growth, all the better. When fishing deeper lakes that are more shoal oriented, I like to fish sharp breaks off points or sunken mid lake shoals with deep water surrounding it. An ideal situation would be to have a point where it was five feet of water, ten feet from shore, and if you walked twenty more feet out it sloped to deeper than thirty feet or more. Fishing between seven to fifteen feet deep on this transition can pay off big time as these are prime ambush spots for big pike. If you are fishing a mid-lake shoal, look for humps in the eight to ten foot range with twenty foot depths or more surrounding it. These are also great areas in deep rocky lakes. One other tip I can give you is you don’t always have to be shallow to catch pike, as I have caught many pike between twenty to thirty feet deep through the ice. So sometimes it pays to mix it up.