Really, there’s nothing quite like it on ice, almost nothing quite like it in all of freshwater fishing. Pike on ice. No other freshwater fish in no other situation is so flagrantly aggressive, so willing to charge headlong into a fracas, a free-for-all, a fisticuffs.
Tip-ups are fine, really, but overall, my experience these last years is that it’s a rare day when jigging won’t produce more pike than stationary sets. Yes, even during the dead of winter. Still, there’s a place for stationary sets, especially in combination with jigging.
More pike roam the flats and drop-off edges in most lakes and reservoirs than most anglers realize. If they “thought,” more people would be fishing these places for pike. I know other folks jig for pike in parts of the country, but honestly, I almost never see them in my area. Yet, find a flat, especially a weedflat. Or find a rock-rubble flat with boulders and a drop-off. Or find a sunken island with a rocky drop-off tapering into deep water. Pike here, there, almost (but not quite) everywhere.
I often search potential areas with a Nature Vision Aqua-Vu camera. I cut a bunch of holes on a big flat and then look with the camera. Don’t have to see 10-pound pike lying there. Want to see baitfish like perch and bluegills. Want to see a reason for pike to be there. Want to see a few standing weed patches or rock edges butting up against sand, particularly if weeds also are present. In some lakes and reservoirs, the flats are as deep as 15 feet, the drop-offs as deep as 40. In other lakes, I’ve caught pike under three feet of ice in four feet of water — those type of depths and everything in between.
Without the camera, you cut holes, pull over a portable shack, and look down the hole. You want to be able to see bottom, or at least see down to the depth where you’ll be fishing. The thrill and, ultimately, maximum system productivity is a result of seeing how fish are reacting below. Otherwise, you fish as we’ve taught you over the years, with a portable sonar showing your lure in relation to the bottom and to fish that come in. Same process, only one approach is totally sight fishing, which is what we’ll concentrate on here.
Once you look and have a “feeling” certain holes are going to be productive (say you find a distinct weededge or patch of weeds and, logically, choose to fish along it), you make those holes bigger by cutting another hole, or two more holes, so they just overlap the original hole. Some of the old augers won’t do this, but all the 9-inch and 10-inch Jiffys and Strike Masters I ran last year would cut overlapping holes. Otherwise, cut holes close together and connect them by chipping with a spud bar like the Feldman (Jiffy) Mille Lacs chisel.
A single 10-inch hole provides a fair view of what’s happening down below, but not nearly so well as at least three well-placed 10-inch holes. Pike often hold a fair distance off to the side, making a judgement about your offering. Once they like what they see, they charge. Many fish begin the attack from at least three feet away. Granted, fishing a 10-inch hole is exciting, because you usually don’t see the fish until it flashes in and snaps your lure right down below. But you’ll make more fish bite by seeing the entire scene as it unfolds down below. No question that certain presentation moves turn pike on. And those moves may change by body of water, time of day, or even individual pike.
Continued – click on page link below.