Most bait shops are all out of the large shiners and suckers we'd normally use to catch pike while ice fishing, so Mike picked up a bag of frozen smelt from a local grocery store.
Not too much snow on the ice surface, Mike drove out to our spot in his new 4x4 pickup truck. Quite comfortable not to have to trek out, and being able to sit in a warm truck if need be.
After drilling some holes through nearly 3 feet of ice, we set out half a dozen tip ups in about 5 feet of water, which was more like 2 feet once you deduct the thickness of the ice. Pike move shallower as we get closer to their spawning period, which is usually sometime in April.
I brought along a small rod to jig with while waiting for them to bite, not much going on jigging small lures or spoons in water that shallow. The first flag of the day went off right next to me, I grabbed the line and set into the pike. As I haven't fished this sort of setup in many years, it was tough to guess the size of the fish, especially as it was only a couple feet below me. I let it run a few times, and was surprised that it was a bit smaller than I originally thought once it was landed.
Still quite happy to have landed my first pike of the season:
Took quite a while for the next hit, unfortunately the fish dropped the bait before we had a chance to hook it. Mike and I both landed a couple more fish after noon.
Eventually, I decided to try catching one on my jigging rod. Remove the small Rapala lure I was jigging, and replaced it with an old quick strike rig I had tied 5-6 years ago, which I very rarely get to use. Setup a nice 6 inch smelt on the quick strike rig, which ended up presenting it in a horizontal position instead of vertical. I then jigged it very slowly about 6 to 12 inches off the bottom. Took about 20 minutes, I had a nice violent hit. I immediately set into the pike, as the quick strike rig is designed to hook it without any waiting, to avoid having the pike gut hooked.
I had my drag set to about 3.5 lbs of tension, as I was using a light braided ice line with a 3 lb test diameter. The Fenwick ice rod double over, and the pike sent my drag screaming 5 or 6 times before I finally managed to lead it's head up the ice hole. Fish had a decent belly on it too.
Mike caught another one shortly after, just as we were getting ready to leave by mid afternoon.
Hope to get in one more ice fishing outing before the season ends and I start chasing carp in open water again.