Ice Fishing for Pike

February 5, 2009 by  

By Jason Phillips

According to the weather forecast, March will begin with subzero temperatures which will extend the wait for the snow goose migration. We are in the midst of the spring snow goose hunting season but could be a month away from actually having huntable numbers of geese in the state! With an excess of three feet of ice on lakes and sloughs it looks like we will be have to be patient. The cold weather will delay the spring goose hunt but will extend the ice fishing season which is just fine with a group of retired ice fishing anglers.

Although ice fishing success across the northern plains has been sporadic this winter, I had the opportunity to witness some truly unique ice fishing techniques that produced amazing results. I have been listening to stories for the past few years about the success my grandfather and his friends have been enjoying on the ice. We have discussed their presentations and fishing techniques which are both very simple but have proven to be very effective. Over the past few winters they have been spending much of their free time on frozen lakes and sloughs that hold the pike they are in search of.

When the opportunity arose to spend a day on the ice with the group, I couldn’t turn down the offer. I was however given instructions that I did not need to bring any of my “high tech” ice fishing equipment. I soon learned the group still takes pride in utilizing odds and ends from the garage and turning them into ice fishing rigs. Throughout their lives they have learned the value of a dollar and have learned some ingenuity along the way. I had the opportunity to see this ingenuity in action on my recent fishing trip.

Armed with pieces of PVC pipe, chalk line, a bag of frozen smelt and word of the latest bite we headed to our destination. The sun was already well above the horizon, but I was reassured that we would be there in plenty of time. Although I was a bit apprehensive on how the day was going to unfold, the excitement of the group provided me with the confidence that our day was going to be a success.

As we reached our destination we began to get rigged for the day. The pieces of the puzzle began to come together. The pieces of PVC pipe were cut about 2 feet in length, they were wound with about 35 feet of chalk line which were armed with a hook suitable for deep sea angling. We baited the hooks with the smelt and dropped the lines down the holes. The PVC pipe sat across the opening in the ice. The rigs were essentially makeshift tip ups. Needless to say this was not going to be finesse fishing, but according to the members of the group the presentation wasn’t as important as being in the right place at the right time. If you were on the bite, the aggressive feeding pattern of the pike would provide all the action you could hope for.

The PVC pipes were painted half white and half black. When fish strike, the PVC pipe spins and the color scheme creates a “flag” for the fisherman. True to form we ended the day with our share of action and we never lost a fish. Who needs Spiderwire when you’ve got a chalk line? There is no doubt that technology has significantly improved and enhanced ice fishing success, but the day with the group proved to me that some good old fashioned ingenuity can still produce some fish.

Although I don’t think that I am going to trade in my “high tech” ice fishing equipment, the day proved to me the simple enjoyment ice fishing can provide to all types of anglers. It looks like winter is going to hold on for a while which means we will be waiting for the geese to arrive, but you won’t hear a complaint from the group of dedicated ice fisherman who will no doubt be in search of the latest hot spot.


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