What would be the best tactic for ice out pike?


ice out can be the absolute best time for big pike but conditions can be tough, especially up that far, and even wilderness fish can be off their bite. Dead bait on quick-strike rigs is the best bet day in and day out, especially in nasty weather, big pike just can’t resist all those calories with no effort. Bring frozen cisco, suckers or smelt depending on the regs there and what you can bring as a practical matter. I like to use these rigged under a float so it can drift along and cover some water, plus give a good strike indication.

In better conditions several artificials come into play, but still geared to a slower, finesse approach in the cold water. Soft plastic jerkbait deals (i.e. Fin-S Fish, Slug-O’s), rigged with an exposed large single hook plus a treble trailer further back in the bait, are good. Lightweight salmon spoons that must be pulled slow to work right are hot at times. Flies could be the best artificials of all and if you’re like me and don’t have the patience to use a fly rod, rig a spinner in front of a big fly, with maybe a little weight attached to the fly, and you can throw it on spinning gear. My most efficient ice-out option of all though, as long as the fish are hitting fairly well, is suspending jerkbaits like the Suspending Rogue. You can pause them enticingly in the pike’s face yet still cover more water than most cold water presentations, letting you expose a bait to more fish in a day. Maybe fewer will take it compared to let’s say a deadbait, but you’ll show it to more fish in a given amount of time, leading to more strikes overall, including some really big fish.

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