Ice Fishing for Pike
The pike family includes musky, pickerel, gar, northern pike and grass pike among others. Northern pike and grass pike are a blast to catch through the ice and will be focused on here. Pike are abundant throughout many Ontario lakes. Most of the time you can find them in lakes and ponds that have a strong pan fish population, and often catch them while targeting pan fish. Many people don’t tend to go ice fishing specifically to catch pike, but when you hook one while catching perch or crappie it’s a welcome surprise.
Pike are typically loners and will cruise around the water looking for prey alone. Pan fish like sunfish, perch and crappie will swim around in schools circling different areas of a body of water. The pike will follow the schools of pan fish around and take one when ever the opportunity presents itself. Pike can be located at any depth in the water column, so it is important to fish at different depths. Pike will take just about any type of bait or lure that is large in size. It is pretty common to loose pike when you are targeting pan fish because of their teeth, and often people wonder why the keep having to re-tie when they are targeting smaller fish. Sometimes you can ice a pike on lighter gear, but with the right gear you can increase your chances of landing one exponentially.
Pike are strong fish with very sharp teeth, so you will want to use steel leaders and line at least 10 lb test or stronger. Large hooks work best for setting in a pikes toothy mouth. They will take all sorts of live or dead bait, particularly minnows, as long as it is large enough to look like a decent meal. I like to use minnows no smaller than 4 inches, often baited on spoons or other lures. Red Devils and Lil’ Cleos are my go-to spoons for pike, and also rapalas and jigs work well.
Using tip-ups with large size minnows work well for pike because they will often hold the bait in their mouth and run with it, so you have time to get to the tip-up and set the hook. Jigging with large spoons is also a good option for catching pike, being the perfect way to draw their attention. With a little info and the right gear you should have no problems getting into some pike, but watch out for the teeth because man they’re sharp.