Top secrets of successful late-ice northern pike anglers

Pike season will be wrapping up on some inland waters soon, but the season remains open on border waters in many areas. Where are pike now? Smaller ones are relating to shallower locations and green weeds. Bigger pike swim in deeper water and deep outside weed edges. Other good locations may not have vegetation, such as rock areas, and sunken islands. And don’t be afraid to work it deep: 30 feet is not too deep for these big fish.

If you’re fishing deeper pike, go 4 to 5 feet off the bottom, even in 20 to 40 feet of water.

Approach them with a tip-up in these deeper waters. I usually set one just a half foot off bottom, then maybe another at that 4-5 foot level. Set that tip-up with live bait, preferably shiners in the 5- to 6-inch range, or suckers that run even a little bigger.

If you encounter active fish, consider using a larger jig with live bait, or a vertical jigging spoon with lots of flash and action. Again, keep it roughly 5 feet off the bottom.

If fishing with several friends, consider using tip-ups along a breakline. Spread them out  and at different depths. When you set one tip-up, go 5 feet off the bottom, but alter the others. If you can, work jigs and live baits in between those depths. This is almost like casting!

Definitely use some sort of thin strand wire leader when fishing. You may get fewer bites, but you won’t lose as many fish.

Pike are starting to move around and thinking of spawning. Release those big fish, and don’t use a gaff hook. When grabbing that fish, hold under the gill plate (don’t touch gill rakers) then gently release!

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