I’m sure there are those of you who are reading the title of this article and asking, “Really?” The truth is fishing for pike through the ice is quite popular, as the mighty predator is even more of a formidable opponent on light ice tackle. To optimize your monster pike haul on the ice, though, you’ll need to adjust your tactics a bit, and today I’ve provided a few tips to help you do just that.

Most think of pike and think of weeds. This is understandable, since pike are designed to be ambush predators and often weave their way through weeds while on the hunt. However, to catch more big pike through the ice, the first change I’d make is moving from deep vegetation to the areas above structure, high in the water column. Most will drill above structure such as rocks, vegetation, or drop-offs, and place tip-ups at each hole, outfitted with live minnows. Be sure to use lively minnows, meaning minnows that will provide a lot of movement in the water. To keep the minnow livelier longer, hook it through the tail instead of the body.

When targeting pike through the ice, it’s crucial to make as little noise as possible. Because the pike are closer to the surface, odd noises will spook them quite easily, so stepping softly on the ice is important. Try to use lake maps or GPS to locate suitable drilling spots so you don’t need to walk around more than is necessary.

Lastly, employing a bit of subtlety while fishing for pike can go a long way towards improving your big fish catch rate. For instance, allowing sunlight to peek through the hole in the ice can spook fish, so using a circular tip-up that covers the hole completely is smart. Also, you might need to streamline your presentation a bit, which means cutting down on what you have attached to the bait, or switching from a steel leader to a strong fluorocarbon. Doing so will reduce any potential flashiness or gaudiness, and improve your chances of landing that big fish.

While consistent numbers of smaller pike can be found in the vegetation, the big fish will be found higher up in the water. The tips outlined above you pull some massive fish through the ice in no time, but be sure to bring strong tackle and drill a big enough hole!