February offers a variety of options on ice. Many choices hinge on deep water, such as chasing walleyes, perch or tullibees roaming the abyss. But one of my all-time favorite patterns centers on targeting hungry northern pike lurking in food-rich, shallow water weedbeds.
Case in point: A large natural lake a short cast from my central-Minnesota home offers great opportunities for “green party” pike action—and similar scenarios exist across the Ice Belt. The lake spans two sprawling basins, and hosts a variety of structural sweet spots where northerns and other predators can harass baitfish including yellow perch, suckers and countless species of minnows.
Some of the lake’s most consistent pike action, however, can be found in a large, shallow, weedy bay at the south end of one of the basins. Anglers tapping this bite typically enjoy numbers of pike from eater to trophy size proportions that are unusual in an easy-to-access fishery an hour’s drive from the Twin Cities metropolis.
What makes this spot—and others like it elsewhere—so hot are lush beds of healthy green weeds, which offer ample oxygen and attract a wide variety of fish. Most of the time, the best fishing occurs on or near the transition from thick weeds to deeper, open water coming in from the main lake. But open pockets, slight inflows and other fish-attracting features are always worth checking.
When fishing the salad, many anglers favor tip-ups armed with live bait. This is a great strategy, too. But I like to add an animated jigging presentation to the mix to attract nearby pike. For Dan’s top picks check out fishing.scout.com.