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1) find a lake with a population of northerns. Sounds simple, but there are many places in colorado that have very few northerns, not sufficient numbers to fish for. Find a place.
2) get a topo map of the place if you have one. This will come in handy when finding locations to fish at.
3) buy the correct gear. I like tipups when icefishing for pike. Cheap or fancy they all work. Spool the tipup with a lot of 20-50 pound tipup line. I like dacron. The black stuff. It is easy to handle, doesn't tangle, and is easy on the fingers when fighting fish. Buy florocarbon. I prefer 20-50 pound stuff but heavier can be good too. Buy a bunch of small trebles, I like #12 gamakatsus.
4) consider location, forage, and time of year relationships. Colorado really doesn't have any pelagic baitfish like ciscoes, whitefish, or smelt in its lakes, so that is out of the question. Mostly, the pike feed on panfish like perch, bluegills, and crappie. If trout are stocked, the larger pike (30"+) like to feed on those as well. Pike also like carp and suckers if present. A pike's location is consistent of these fish's location. Pick your poison basically. I generally have found pike in early ice to be shallower. 5-15 feet seems to be the best, with 10 premium. Fish bays or a shallow flat w/ an inlet. Find fresh weeds nearby, if there is a weedline set your tipup just outside of it. I like to set the tipup 1 FOOT OFF OF THE BOTTOM, no more, no less. That is personal but I have not caught many pike fishing right on the bottom or fishing suspended, but a lot right there. Later ice will find pike moving deeper, 20-40 foot depths are common. Look for main lake points, dropoffs, and transition zones from rocky to sandy.
5) set the trap. Like stated before, 1 foot off of the bottom seems best. I like tying a 2 ft florocarbon leader off of the dacron using a nail knot. Make a quick strike rig, which is one hook a few inches above the line then tie the other on. Set them on opposite sides of the bait so it hangs horizontally. This is a must. This helps it hang correctly and also helps immensely with hooksets. Set it for a fairly light setting as some pike will just sit there after they take the bait. However, some scream off right away so you never really know.
6) WAIT. This is the biggest thing. Colorado pike fishing can be notoriously slow, but we have some lunkers. Find something to pass the time, perch fish, trout fish, whatever, or just set an extra tipup for your second rod and really be lazy. The pike will hit at any time of the day from dawn to dusk, it doesn't seem to matter much. Although the "hottest" times are around dawn and dusk.
7) FLAG. If it is in shallow water, <8 fow, tiptoe over. Be quiet. If it is deeper, walk or run over. Take the tipup out of the water.
8) setting the hook. If the pike it taking no line, or is just sitting on the bait, do not set the hook. Sometimes, nothing will be there. Wait. Wait up to 5 min before resetting. They will oftentimes come back, or are just playing with it and will hit it again soon. Set the hook when the fish is running line! This causes the trebles to most of the time hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. Do not set the hook if the fish is not moving!!! Set it when it is moving! I can't stress that enough.
9) the fight. Obviously, if the fish runs, let line slip between your fingers. Pike fight on this series: run, stop, run, stop, run stop. You get them near the hole at least 2 or 3 times and they will run more line to the bottom. Be patient. Pull in line when the fish has stopped moving.
10) landing. Get the pike's head vertically in the hole. If the pike is horizontal to the hole, let him take a bit of line down and get him vertical. Once his head his in the hole, grab his gill plate if he is a big one and pull him out gently. If it is a small one, grab his side and pull him out. Photograph if you want, and release. Releasing pike is a necessity in most colorado waters. If they are overpopulated in a lake though, you can keep a small fish or two. Make sure they are less than 24" if you want to keep them. Throw back any larger.


Feel free to add or subtract steps and add any info or comment if you want.
hope this is a productive thread!
 

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Thanks TroutFishingBear, this is an awesome post. I am headed to north west Nebraska in a few weeks to a private lake where pike fishing is the only option but very famous. With these tips, and some others I have recieved I hope to catch a few.
Craig
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I am jealous. Nebraska has some great pike fishing! Catch a lunker!
 

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Very informative post TFB, thanks for sharing.
 

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A very informative post, especially for a non-ice fisherman like myself...even if i dont ice fish, its kind of interesting to see the tactics one might employ to track down and hook up with a pike...very cool.
 

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TFB

Great post...really informative...we never fished for them through the ice in Minnesota...mainly crappies and walleyes...got sick of them from the summer being so easy to catch...

Question have you ever fought them on a conventional ice rod and reel...like a 4 foot laker rod and reel...just curious...and how did it come out...or do tip ups work that much better due to the waiting and not paying attention game?...
 

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Its a MUTINY...you told us that we werent allowed to agree!...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
zman, I've lost a couple this year jigging for them with pike pole and pike jigs. Lost one at crawford w/ an airplane jig tip w/ anchovie set up. Had a couple good bites at lake x jigging for them. I also got bit off at one lake this year fishing for trout, but I know it was a pike based on its hit and its fight. My dad also caught a 20" pike somewhere this year too on a jig pole. He was trout fishing. I have actually caught many northerns while jigging for perch. Last year I caught 4 (well, 3 cuz 1 was pint sized) on 2 pound test with perch jigs jigging for perch. I also had I don't know how many break off, bite off, or get away. But that was at a lake that was red-hot pike fishing. Red hot meaning 5-8 flags/day and a few on perch jigs. My brother got a pike this year at lake X jigging for perch/crappie. I think it was 4# can't quite remember he caught it on 2# test and it actually got the lure deep, a miracle it didn't bite off.
But, on the flip side, I have used pike lures many a days and jigged for pike in known pike habitats, only to get nothing, while the tipup picks up a fish here and there. I think the main advantage with the tipup is that it has infinite patience, unlike an angler. Consider at lake X on tuesday. Got a flag in the morning (23" northern) at like 7:30 AM. Then the next flag was the 20# my bro caught at 4:30 PM. Would a person be jigging effectively for 9 hours in a row? I doubt it. That's why I use tipups then go jig for perch or trout just to pass the time. The pike will oftentimes hit those jigs too so watch out! Later.
 

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Has anyone used a baitcaster ice rod with a reel and a clicker. I would think a really light drag would do the same thing as long as you can hear it. A huge pike on a ice rod would be cool.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I've never tried it, but I think a tipup just sounds easier; especially if you already have some. You can also see it from a long ways off, you can not always hear something from a long ways off, especialy if the wind is blowing. Sometimes you will find yourself quite far away from the tipup. I'm sure it would work just fine though if you stayed close to it. However, on the flip side, it is such a rush to see the flag pop up, and run towards it, and you see the spool spinning like crazy, you take it out of the water and then set the hook and wham! The fight is on! You can feel every shake of the head and every run. I love it!
 

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TFB, have you ever used water dogs? I have never iced a pike, and have made that my goal for this winter. I have been told to let the dog suspend only a few feet below the ice, the bait silouettes this way and is hit from below- any experience from this?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I've never used a waterdog. We can't really get em on the west slope. At least nowhere I looked had em. I seem to do best with the bait 1 ft above the bottom. I had no success on the bottom and very little success suspended or just below the ice. However, at this level (1 ft above bottom) I have caught a lot. Maybe it's a personal thing. I know during the spring, summer, and fall, I throw buzzbaits and the pike smack it from below. It's fun to watch.
But the way I figure it, the 1 ft above the bottom thing is for the pike cruising the bottom, the non aggressive ones that barely have to lift their head to get the bait. These are the biggest, laziest ones.
 

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Trout said:
Has anyone used a baitcaster ice rod with a reel and a clicker. I would think a really light drag would do the same thing as long as you can hear it. A huge pike on a ice rod would be cool.
Hey, great idea. Just put a Rhino closed-face reel with built in clicker on a stout ice rod, anchor it well in a good rod holder, and set the drag loose. If a fish runs with your line, hold your line and set the hook, or just zip the drag tight and set the hook. I've done something like that with catfish in the summer.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I like to bring along another couple of anglers at friends or fishing partners if possible to setup extra tipups. This way you have a higher number of flags and you can really understand what the fish are doing and where they are hanging out. GPS the top holes. Then, when you go back by yourself in a similar time of year you know exactly what the fish will (or should) be doing.

Some miscelaneous (sp) tips:
1) do not ever use wire leaders for pike. Plain and simple, it doesn't work anywhere I've been in CO
2) Try to stay a bit away from the tipup, and/or be very quiet so as not to spook fish in the area.
3) A decent pike will get to the hole several times before you land him. unless your leader is freyed, play them VERY carefully around the hole and let them run away if they want to.
4) Sometimes it is a good idea to cut a piece off of your dead bait, or to poke a hole in it so it leaks extra scent.

I'm running out of things to say about icing pike. Go out and try it!
 

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T.F.B. i'm heading up to stagecoach this weekend, ever try for the pike there ? If so , do ya have any hot spots ? I spotted a couple of nice ones
lookin down the hole sight fishing. I also marked a few last year on the vex. they come on the screan, just sit there & then charge. great post, thanks for the info !
 

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Discussion Starter #16
We seemed to do well off of the points when we were up there this year. The fish did not seem to be back in the bays AS MUCH (although I still caught 1 small one there and had 2 other flags). Seemed depths around 15 FOW off of the points were premium. Might've changed now though, as winter progressed. I will have pics soon in the regular section that are of stagecoach, so check em out if you want!
later,
TFB
 

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TFB, Good post, I agree with most of what you say. I fish Crawford Reservoir for pike, and use tip ups,with a small dead perch for bait. The smaller the perch the better. However, i do use a thin black wire leader and it doesn't seem to cause me any problem. I use braided line because the mono freezes up on the ice and tangles badly. Anywy, I hook the perch in the dorsal fin so it sits properly. I cut the stomach out and squeeze the air out so it will sit right. I fish the bait one foot off the bottom as you stated. I also let the fish run and I don'[t get excited and pull the line up right away. Usually the fish will stop running, andI wait again. When it takes back off, then I set the hook. My largest pike so far is 41 1/2", with many over 36". This year is very slow. The drought of a few years ago really devastated the pike. Last year I caught several in the 28-30" range, so I thought this winter would be great. So far its been very slow. Your post is full of good info, thanks.
 
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