How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Friday, December 30, 2005

First Ice Pike

By Steve Scepaniak · Predator Guide Service

The hard water-fishing season is upon us and so is some of the best fishing for pike throughout the winter. First, safe ice: Fishing for trophy pike throughout the mid west during first ice can produce some fantastic fishing action.
When fishing for early ice pike, concentrate your fishing efforts to the bays of the lake. The pike will still be concentrated in the shallows from their fall feeding pattern and will stay there until the pressure from A.T.V’s, snowmobiles, and vehicles drive them to the sanctuary of the deeper water.
A knowledge of the bay and surrounding structure is essential when fishing for trophy pike. Concentrate your fishing efforts along the edge of the weed bed that is closest to the main body of water. Keep in mind that this weed bed “will” hold the majority of game fish and bait fish do to the simple fact that it is closest to the main body of water and is an easy access for escape in case of danger.
Being a top line predator, the northern pike will take advantage of the natural structure of the weed bed to ambush its prey from. These places being, any and all points, pockets and inside turns of the weed bed.
Before your first line goes in the water there is one item that is essential to keep in mind. It is of the utmost importance to keep the noise to a minimum when ice fishing, and yet, still be able to move quickly from one spot to another in search of fish. This can easily be done by having a series of pre-drilled holes along the edge of the weed bed. It only takes a few extra minutes in the early morning to ensure a day of quality fishing.
The point of the weed bed closest to the main body of water will get my first tip-up. The closest inside turn next to the point will get my second tip-up. If after forty minutes of waiting produces nothing, simply pick up your tip-ups and move to another hole you have pre-drilled.
When rigging my tip-ups for pike I like to use 17 lb. test monofilament fishing line. My personal favorite comes in a low visibility green color and is almost impossible to see in the water.
Without a doubt, a quick strike system is the only way to go for catching pike. A quick strike rig is nothing more than a series of hooks that are attached to the minnow. There is no more second-guessing on how long to let the northern take the bait like with the conventional one hook system. With the quick strike system, set the hook after the bait is taken. The northern will have hooks in its mouth not in its gullet and it can easily be released. You can make your own quick strike rig or buy one. Either way it is the most efficient way of catching pike.
My favorite quick strike rigs are home made. They consist of 7 strand 17 lb. test leader material with number # 4 or # 6 treble hooks attached. I have found over the years that the smaller size hooks have greatly increased our catching percentage both in numbers and size of pike.
My first choice for bait when northern fishing is a sucker minnow of eight to twelve inches long. I feel that larger minnows will deter the smaller northern pike, yet will still be an appetizing meal for the larger pike. It is important to have enough minnows on hand to ensure a lively set in the water. Set your minnow no more than eighteen inches off the bottom since northerns are noted for cruising the bottom in search of an easy meal. Use just enough weight to keep your minnow down in the strike zone.
When fishing for first ice pike it is important to keep the safety factor in mind. Three to four inches of ice will support a person. I’ll go with two of my buddies. For safety sake on first ice it is important to take extra precaution and equipment in case of an emergency such as a rope, ice picks, and a life jacket. “Remember” do not walk together.
Good luck, release that trophy, and preserve the memory for life with a replica.


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