Fishing Early Ice – Best Fishing Of The 2017 Winter Season

Fishing early ice through the first month is typically the best ice fishing, it’s also the best time for catching Northern Pike on smelt. So once Winter hits and there is enough ice on the lake to walk safely you want to be out there fishing. Why, because the fish are now swimming in schools and are still very active since the oxygen levels in the lake are high.

Why Is Ice Fishing Less Productive As Winter Prolongs

What happens to the lakes as Winter continues? The lakes no longer get the sunlight for photosynthesis thus no oxygen production from vegetation and the water cannot mix with oxygenated air since it’s under the ice. So the lake oxygen levels begin to drop, the fish become inactive, and if low enough oxygen levels the fish will start to die.

Fishing For Northern Pike

Early ice is the best time for catching Northern Pike and using Tip-Ups is one of the most common methods. But what is the best bait for catching Pike on early ice? Well most fishermen think live minnows are, but Smelt on early ice works just as good or better and you don’t have to worry about keeping it alive.

How To Use Smelt On A Tip Up

First find a store that sells Smelt (Frozen) and buy a small bag. Make sure they are not cleaned as you will want to use a whole smelt. Next place 3 or 4 into a small plastic bag or container and keep them frozen. Once you are in the car driving to the lake place one of the bags on the dash and let them thaw out.

To use with a Tip Up, take one or your smelt and place it on a L-Hook (Pike Hook). To place the smelt onto the hook you will start at the back of the bottom side, push the hook up into the smelt and work the hook forward toward the head, keeping inside the fish. Then push the barb up through the top of the Smelt’s head.

How To Set Your Tip-Up

Set your tip up 3 feet off the bottom and wait. As soon as you get a hit (flag up) grab the line and set the hook. This is one time you do not want to wait for a second run from the Northern, as it will drop the bait and not strike again.

Once the ice has been on for a month then get back to using live bait and going with the second strike for setting the hook.