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Winter Pike Fishing Tips

Winter is literally right around the corner. The first frosts have hit, and some have even experienced the first snowfall of the year.

Now is the time to head out to find that trophy Pike. Here are some tips for winter pike fishing.

Why Is Winter Pike Fishing Better Than Other Seasons?

While some elect to fish for Pike in the summer, when they’re spending time in shallower waters, the fishing can be tricky on multiple levels. In the summer, pike are gobbling their food down, which means deep-hooking is a common problem. In addition, higher water temperatures cause the oxygen-carrying capacity of the water to decrease. When the pike fight, they fight to exhaustion, taking them a long time to recover, and often leading to mortalities.

Biology of Pike’s Prey is Key To Winter Pike Fishing

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Understanding the biology of the fish helps to decipher their habits, and ultimately location, so you can determine the best presentations for the situation. According to fishing editor, Gord Pyzer, “We learn more about what drives the habitats of Pike every time we observe them on the water and study the science surrounding them. But there’s a lot more to learn about Pike under the ice.”

Pike fishing during winter is all about location and the relationship between the Pike and their food. Knowing the feeding and locational habits of a Pike’s forage is equally as important as learning the Pike’s own feeding habits. Study the biology of the lake you’re planning to fish on. Know where deep weed beds and steep shoreline breaks exist. Pike follow where their food will be hanging out.

If you understand the forage species in the lake, you’ll have a jump on where the pike will be at any given point of the season.

In the early season, larger Pike remain in the shadows for as long as the fall spawning species stay in the flats and adjacent drop-off areas. Tullibee or whitefish are a great high-calorie fish that provides a big meal for Pike. The ice is thinner in the early season, but many enthusiasts risking their lives on thin ice believe that the payoff is worth it.

As the season grows colder, Pike head for deeper waters, so you’ll have to make a move. Tullibee and whitefish spend a lot of time over open waters. Pike targeting crappie, yellow perch, walleye and suckers will follow those species to the deep weed beds and steep shoreline breaks.

So, placing your spearing shack next to deep-water holes with soft bottom content will usually generate good results.

How Pike Feed

Following the Pike’s food source isn’t enough. You also have to understand how Pike like to feed. They’re ambush feeders, meaning they patrol along the steep breaklines and mid-lake structures where schools of baitfish like to travel. They attack unsuspecting forage when they roam into range.

They take advantage of underwater structure like trees and rock piles found around steep breaks to ambush their prey.

Take a look at your map and find a few sections where the breaklines are the steepest.

Water Temperature is Important When Winter Pike Fishing

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Water temperature is important, and not just at the surface. There’s a big difference between surface temperature and bottom temperature. It could be near freezing just under the ice and in the shallows, and 40℉ close to the bottom in some places.


CHECK OUT OUR ICE FISHING QUICK START GUIDE!


The late-winter period can be a really great time to fish if you know where to look. Go out in late March and early April to look for a creek, stream, or river flowing into a shallow, weedy bay or cove and you’ll find the perfect temperature for a plethora of Pike.

The Play of Light With Pike

Pike are more active when there is more light, so lakes with clearer waters tend to have the most active Pike in the wintertime. That can be carried over to the ice, based on the thickness of the ice and how much snow has gathered on top. The more light that gets through, the more active they are.

Dr. John Casselman, former Senior Research Scientist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is able to easily demonstrate this in the lab simply by adjusting the rheostat on the lights. By simply darkening the room, he’s able to almost instantaneously put them into a dormant state.

Pavlov’s Pike

One big trick for Pike is to pre-bait your fishing locations. Few fish respond better than Pike to pre-baiting tactics. Dole out small chunks of food like suckers and tullibees in a steady stream over a period of several days. But you must do it at the same time you intend to fish, as the Pike are extremely programmable. For instance, you can’t drop it off every day for a week on your way home from work, and then expect the Pike to show up when you go fishing Saturday morning. They’ll be programmed to come eat in the afternoon.

Just double-check regulations where you fish to determine if pre-baiting is legal.

Winter Pike Fishing – Not All Lakes Are the Same

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Someone looking for lots of action, and someone looking to land the big trophy are going to choose to fish on completely different lakes. Counterintuitively, the larger Pike will more likely be caught where there aren’t many Pike to be found.

Lakes that contain prime habitat with premium forage give the Pike a chance to grow large and do it fast, but in places like the Northwest, they don’t get to enjoy the fast growth rates because they’re overcrowded. Many lakes provide so much quality habitat that they produce more fish than the lake will support.

Lakes that produce big Pike will have a good combination of cool water, good cover, and plenty of food for fish in every size range.

DNR websites offer lake information sections that can give you pertinent data on population densities, size structure, and available forage, allowing you to make a good educated guess about what lakes the big ones may be hiding in.

 

Ice Fishing Forums For All Of The Bucket Butts Out There

The lakes aren’t yet frozen over, but soon they will be. Now is the time to start brushing up on some of your techniques and making sure that you have the right jig for the job. Just how do you do that in the off-season? By visiting an online forum geared toward ice fishing.

Just like those that partake in this rugged sport, ice fishing forums are few and far between and not always easy to spot. So how do you know which ones are worth visiting and paying attention to, and which ones you should slide on by?

Stick with us, as we go through some of the best ice fishing forums out there.

Why Visit a Forum?

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A forum is a great place to connect online with like-minded people that share similar interests. Users from across the globe can hold discussions, ask questions, share information, tell tales, and talk about the one that got away. Pros can offer advice, and beginners can expand their knowledge base. Often forums will include competitions hosted by sponsors where users can win prizes. Unlike a chat room, conversations are typically able to be viewed long after they started.

Just as ice fishing is seasonal, the ice fishing forums tend to go through a period of hibernation. During the off-season, the conversations can become a little quiet as many users take up other hobbies and endeavors. Some of the threads continue to be active, though most are left to rest until the season draws nearer. As the weather takes a colder turn in the fall, more and more anglers flock back to their favorite forums, getting geared up.

Ice Fishing Forums: IceShanty

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IceShanty is one of the most active and helpful sites around. Even through the offseason, members carry conversations throughout the day. This time of year, they’re motivating each other with videos of last season’s highlights and lamenting the fact that the lake can’t freeze over fast enough.

They tout themselves as the ice fishing spot for everyone. Whether you are a rookie ice-man or seasoned ice fishing master, you will definitely learn something. You can discover what jigging rod, reel, auger, fish locator, or portable or hard side shack is appropriate for your methods and budget. If you think ice fishing isn’t necessarily your sport because of the temperature, there’s a special section on “Dressing For Ice Fishing.”

Canada is featured in prominence (where better to fish cold weather?), but each cold-wintered North American State from Alaska to Maryland has its own thread featured! This is where locals and visitors, alike, can share reports on their favorite ice. This forum maintains one of the most exhaustive lists of technical threads with conversations on equipment, “Ice Shack Tips,” and Darkhouse Spearing, to a very lengthy list of every kind of ice fish imaginable. If you’re looking to increase your knowledge base and make some friends across North America and beyond, IceShanty is a great forum.

There are typically upwards of 300 visitors to the site at any given time, and over 20 contributing members.

Ice Fishing Forums: In-Depth Outdoors

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In Depth Outdoors is another highly active forum, especially given the current off-season. Posts are updated within the hour daily, so there is always plenty of fresh new content to draw you in. If you’re looking for a new perch rod, or tip down system, there’s plenty of expert advice to be had. If you’ve got an opinion on which auger is the best for you, feel free to throw your 2-cents in on your favorite: hand powered, 2-stroke, 4-stroke, or electric.

While threads aren’t organized well into easy-to-locate-and-navigate sections, there is no lack of variety and information. You’ll have absolutely no trouble locating a wealth of knowledge. While they don’t list how many members are a part of this forum, or how many are currently active, we get the feeling the quantity and quality of posts speaks for itself.


This Ice Fishing Quick Start Guide Covers All You’ll Need!


Ice Fishing Forums: Ice Fishin 247

Ice Fishin 247 is also a relatively active site, though not quite to the extent of the previous two. Many conversations are updated daily and members are starting to really get in the mood for the upcoming season. There are generally over 200 users online at any given time, though the vast majority of them are guests, with less than five contributing members at a time. That appears to change during the ice season. This is likely the result that this forum doesn’t have the same quantity of members as the other ones.

Content is solid and extensive, with already over 8,000 topics garnering over 75,400 posts. Posts are easily organized and broken down into easy-to-digest topics. New to the sport? There’s an entire section dedicated to “Ice Fishing For Newbies,” where beginners can glean knowledge from more experienced experts. There’s a whole section dedicated to “Ice Safety” (making it hard to miss for those in a hurry). Just as with the larger IceShanty page, Ice Fishin 247 offers all the information you could desire on ice fishing in the States and beyond.

They even offer an occasional contest or giveaway.

Though the lakes aren’t yet frozen over, the time is coming! Get inspired to hit the ice with your cleats on this year by visiting one of these informative forums!

 

Ice Fishing Auger Comparisons – Interview With Minnesota’s Abby Olson

If you’re itching to get out there in the peace and quiet of the still winter air, alone on the ice with your thoughts and the fish, don’t think you’re alone.

If you’re counting down the days until you can spend time sharing the experience, trading back and forth between beer and coffee holed up in a shack with a couple of buddies, you’re not alone.

Coooooold is blowing in and the water is cooling down. The ice is coming.

Are you ready?

Do you have the tools it takes to get yourself set up with ease? Check out our comparisons of the Top Ice Fishing Augers. Fishing expert, Abby Olson shares her top picks and her experience with them.


LEARN MORE ABOUT ICE FISHING IN OUR QUICK START GUIDE


Best Hand Ice Fishing Auger: Strikemaster Lazer Hand Auger

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Lazer ice augers seem simple at first glance, but they’re designed for comfort, speed, and precision. The Strikemaster Lazer Hand Auger is efficient enough to match up to a powered performance. Don’t let the lack of power fool you. This auger is able to make every revolution count, so you won’t need to use as much energy as you do with other augers. It cuts through the ice as quickly and easily as a manual auger is able.

Because it only weighs between 5.5 and 8.5 pounds (depending on the size) it’s a great choice when you need to pack light. It also breaks down into two pieces to make it extra portable.

The chrome alloy, stainless steel blades are dipped in powder coated paint, which reduces the amount of ice build-up your stuck dealing with, and they stay sharp longer than the blades of most other models. They cut through most surfaces quickly. The ergonomic handle design helps to reduce fatigue and transfers your effort directly to the blade. It’s built to last for years out in the freezing cold temperatures.

There is a good deal of variation to be had with this model with the size range from four to eight inches auger length. The handle is also adjustable, making it easy for different people to work with it, and the rubber grips make the auger comfortable on your hands. The blade guard protects you from harm.

The auger can be adjusted to move from 48” to 57”, so cutting through 15” of ice in a minute is no problem.

Best Electric Ice Fishing Auger: K-Drill Electric Ice Auger System

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The electric auger movement hasn’t yet swept completely across the nation; experienced ice-angers are a bit skeptical still. But ANGLR Expert, Abby Olson was introduced to her cousin’s K-Drill Ice Auger System last winter, and she fell in love with its ease of use and lightweight design. It’s been designed specifically for modern high-powered, brushless, handheld cordless electric drills, making it a very lightweight system.

“When driving out to a spot is not an option, it takes a load off of the weight of the sled,” says Olson. “Unlike the Ion (22#) or the Strikemaster (24-27#) electric ice augers, the weight of the K-Drill auger is only five pounds.” That lightweight design “will make it easy for any ice fisherman or woman to “hole hop” quickly and easily,” she explains.

You can purchase the system by itself to use with your own electric drill, but it also comes as a combo package with either a Milwaukee or DeWalt Drill. With no gas or propane involved, there is no exhaust or “smell” left in the ice shack.

The efficient chipper blade design ensures you’ll be able to drill easier and with more confidence than ever before. That’s thanks to the unique three-blade high carbon steel chipper design which chews through both fresh ice and old frozen holes. So far, it’s the lightest and easiest ice auger system ever developed and the ONLY system designed specifically for cordless electric drills.

“The best part of the K-Drill system is the high speed,” explains Olson. “The drill chews through the ice. Even a pre-drilled hole that has frozen over, common in permanent ice shacks, is no problem for the K-Drill’s efficient chipper blade design.”

It has a float at the attachment point of the auger, allowing the bit to float in the water should it become unattached from the dill.

Big bonus? Olson tells us the Chromalloy blades that are made in Minnesota can be sharpened by the company for free!

Best Gas Ice Fishing Auger: Eskimo Mako 43cc Quantum Ice Auger

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The two-stroke gas-powered Eskimo Mako 43cc Quantum Ice Auger ($378) runs on a high-performance, 43cc Viper® engine and has cutting ability far above the rest of the crowd thanks to a combination of the powerful engine and Quantum blades. This makes it a great choice if you’re getting a later start in the season and the ice is already thick and hard. It’s easy to operate with just a light touch to the controls, so you don’t have to remove your gloves or mittens to use it.

Extremely reliable, it doesn’t take but a tug or two before it’s ready and raring to go, no matter how frigid the temperatures are, in part thanks to the included primer. Fuel efficiency isn’t a problem. People tout they can cut multiple holes without having to refuel. We think it’s also one of the most pleasant augers to hold since there are minimal vibrations. There’s no jarring your cold bones with this one, especially given the anti-vibration foam-grip handlebars.

8” model weighs 31 pounds. 

10” model weighs 33 pounds. 

Things to watch out for:

  • The pull cord is a bit more fragile, so you may want to use a little TLC when tugging. Since you don’t ever have to really manhandle it, it shouldn’t be a problem.
  • The tank takes a mixture of fuel and oil, so it requires a little work before you fill the tank, but what a small price to pay for a great high-performance auger!

Best Propane Ice Fishing Auger: Eskimo Mako HIGH COMPRESSION 40cc Propane

If you’re going with propane, who doesn’t love an auto-prime fuel system? All you need to do is flip the switch to ON and start drilling. No priming. You can’t argue with that! The Eskimo Mako 40cc with 10” Quantum Ice Auger is both lightweight and powerful, and the high compression ratio makes it eat through ice like it’s butter.

The auger features a 40cc, four-stroke with a 10-inch two-blade system that’s 42 inches long, making it both lightweight, and powerful. The transmission is ball bearing and this auger operates well in most cold conditions.

Though propane, there aren’t gas fumes, so it’s a great choice for indoor drilling. This Mako is easy to start and a one pound tank should get you around 100 holes with no effort.