Northern Pike Ice Fishing Tips
This northern pike fishing tip can double or even triple your catch of northern pike. While I had proved to my satisfaction that smelt worked in cold water on northern pike and juiced smelt worked even better I hadn't yet tried it ice fishing. Probably because we mostly fished perch and walleyes when we went ice fishing.
One day I decided to get a package of smelt and try them on one of my tip ups for northerns. I couldn't find the large smelt I wanted so I ended up with a bunch of frozen smelt
I set the tip up with the small smelt and added the juice and was waiting for a big northern to hit it. Eventually went back inside the fishing shack to jig for walleyes on my other rod and watched the tip up out the window. Finally got a hit on the tip up and went out an pulled in a two pound northern. I was quite disappointed, threw it back and rebaited and juiced it again.
Once again it took longer than I expected to get another bite on the tip up but I eventually did and it was another small northern about the same size as the last one. At this pint I was becoming very disappointed but did it all again and had the same results, a small northern pike.
3 for 3 and all small northern pike so I baited it up for walleyes and went back inside to get warm and to jig as I really didn't care about catching small northerns. While I was in the shack I started thinking about what was different. Same line, same terminal tackle, smelt and juice. Only thing different was the ice and the smelt were much smaller than what I'd wanted.
I spent the next day driving around to bait shops and grocery stores looking for large smelt to fish with. No more little ones. I finally found one bag of large smelt and made plans for ice fishing the next day hoping things would be different. I wanted BIG fish not little northern pike.
Our fish house was hard to move as it wasn't a portable ice fishing shelter so we pretty much left it in the same place most winters so I went back to the place I'd been before and tried again. This time the results were much different. I caught my 3 northern limit in about a half an hour and all were over 6 pounds. I was much happier but it could have been luck so I went back three more days in a row. Big smelt and juice, bigger northerns, small smelt and juice, smaller northerns. It was the size making the difference.
Now I was smart enough to stock up on huge smelt whenever I found them, summer or winter. They keep in the freezer very well. I would put them into freezer bags with just enough in each bag so they lay flat instead of freezing ito a huge frozen mess thats impossible to get apart. If you're really ambitious you can freeze them flat, on a cookie sheet then bag them after they are frozen.
When I move to South Dakota I got a place on Lake Thompson close to the towns of DeSmet and Lake Preston. Most of you know that DeSmet is where Laura Ingalls wrote some of her prairie books. There and Walnut Grove Minnesota. Heh, I've lived one town over from both places.
When I found the spot I wanted to ice fish for northerns I used the exact same techniques I had before. There were several old guys fishing and talking to them I discovered they were all using small smelt and catching small northerns and they basically said they would catch a bigger one every few days.
I moved about 50 yards from them and drilled my four holes, added the smelt and the juice and started dropping them down the holes. Before I had the fourth one ready I already had a bite on the second tip up. I pulled it up and it was a ten pound northern. Naturally it drew all the old guys over to look at it. Lol, while they were there looking I caught another one around eight pounds.
They finally wandered back to their own areas shaking their heads as they went. They really freaked when I had my last fish and put it back down the hole as it only went about six pounds. I caught a few more and threw them back also and then finally caught another one around ten pounds. That was it, limited out so I left.
I went back to that same spot about six times that year and had the same results every time. Proof enough for me that big smelt and Dr. Juice northern works better than small smelt with juice or no juice.
Do your own tests but I no longer fish northerns thru the ice without large smelt and Dr. Juice. I no longer fish cold water for northerns with out Dr. Juice northern and altho I will use big suckers I'd much prefer to have large smelt. Test it for yourself and see if it works for you. For northern pike fishing through the ice you just can't beat it.
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