Moonglade glares off the ice. A couple of ft down, it glitters throughout sunken, black eyes. Affected person as gargoyles, they wait silently for a sign, a change—a compelling cause to danger working even shallower to finish the circle their life has drawn.

The total moon pulls and tugs on all dwelling issues. Ask any biologist. Higher but, ask anybody who works in an emergency ward. On the finish of winter, it could be one of many parts concerned in drawing spring-spawning fish again towards the locations the place they had been born. For pike, the largest a part of the prespawn draw happens throughout March in most elements of pike nation.

Skilled anglers Scott and Marty Glorvigen coordinate late-ice visits to Lake of the Woods and locations West with the new- or full-moon phases in March. “Pike are making a prespawn run, staging in areas adjoining to marshlands in lakes, eutrophic bays, creeks, and rivers the place they spawn,” Marty mentioned. “Over time, we have observed that moon section could be one key to discovering large numbers in small areas.”

Jeff Andersen, head of Leisure Outside Adventures, has tracked late-ice pike on Lake of the Woods for the previous 15 years. “Pike would possibly get extra energetic on the main and minor moon phases,” he mentioned. “However I believe present circulation coming into the lake is the main issue that makes pike transfer. Moonrise and moonset can typically be key occasions, however the largest factor is simply fishing the place they’re at. Throughout these full-moon intervals we catch extra pike at evening, and we appear to catch extra fish throughout that full-moon interval total—however particularly at evening, as baitfish transfer shallower below a full moon.”

The Stage

“Pike come out of the expanse to pay attention close to spawning habitats in March,” Scott Glorvigen mentioned. “They’re ultimately heading into ‘gator water’—shallow, mucky bays and still-water areas out of the present and off the principle river. The place pike run creeks and rivers to spawn, they stage the place present flows over the delta of that tributary. Particularly, they maintain off the perimeters of that delta, on the drops or the place the underside flattens out. A pointy transition from shallow to deep water is essential, the place pike can get out of the present but it is evened out and flowing over their heads.”

“With present coming excessive of those breaks,” Marty Glorvigen mentioned, “we predict you’ve tidal situations with moon pull. That pull would not simply transfer water on the ocean. It happens in every single place, and fish can really feel it.”

Between moon phases, staging areas could be vacant, in line with the Glorvigens. As the total or new moons of March strategy, pike start displaying up. Inside three days of these phases—earlier than and after—numbers are excessive. Andersen sees it considerably in a different way. “Present is the main issue,” he mentioned. “After they transfer is basically depending on the climate, however late February is if you usually discover the primary pike in actually shallow water at that latitude. Mid-March is when the water’s flowing essentially the most, and that is when essentially the most pike are there.”

“In secure climate, pike transfer proper to the lip of the break, like steelhead transferring to the entrance of a gap,” Scott Glorvigen mentioned. “When climate is unstable, they drop down within the holes. If pike are prepared, they go. If they are not they do not, they usually stage. However we predict the largest numbers of pike transfer into staging areas throughout these moon phases in March. Identical factor occurs in lakes with no tribs to spawn in. Pike transfer in phases, from the factors outdoors the bay, to the slots main into the bay, and at last up onto the flats.”

In large rivers, some staging pike may very well transfer into the final holes within the river correct simply upstream from the place it enters a lake. “Certain,” Marty mentioned. “Some bust proper by that shallow delta and settle into the primary deep holes within the river. They keep there till it is virtually time to spawn after which they begin working their manner upriver. That is widespread on the Canadian Defend.”

Within the case of smaller creeks, antsy pike typically push unbelievably shallow. “When pike are staging in prespawn mode in entrance of creeks and a thaw happens, and melting snow begins the water flowing, pike can transfer proper as much as the perimeters of open water,” Andersen mentioned. “Once we say shallow, we imply pike transfer into areas the place they’ve 1 to 2 ft between the underside of the ice and the ground of the lake.”

So, is it the moon, the situations, day size, climate, or what? Most likely all of the above with a heavy dose of “or what.” What makes fish transfer? All the very best minds on the topic have theories. Will pike spawn throughout a heavy thaw in early February? No. They might not even stage. Will they run throughout the full moon in March if it is -40°F? Not going. The most effective proof now we have to this point is that fish spawn inside day-length home windows when climate and situations are proper.

“We’re searching for funnel areas in mid-February,” Andersen mentioned. “Pike comply with any deep edge main towards spawning creeks and bays. They funnel between shallow humps, alongside the break on the fringe of shallow shoreline factors, and so forth.” Andersen begins drilling over depths of 18 ft instantly outdoors the creek mouth in late February and strikes in nearer as thaws improve the present. “From open water they journey alongside that edge at depths of 15 ft or so till they discover that present and warming affect,” he mentioned. “That is the place the actual enjoyable begins.”


Pike come to the delta with an eye fixed for simple meals. It has been an extended winter below the ice. Foraging to take care of these lengthy, inexperienced our bodies takes a toll. “Massive pike in chilly water usually feed on useless fish throughout prespawn,” Marty Glorvigen mentioned. “The longer a forage fish has been useless the higher, I believe. Possibly it turns into simpler to digest?”

Deadbaits on tip-ups accounted for lots of big pike over time, however the Glorvigens turned pissed off with traditional methodology. “Too usually prespawn pike simply nip at baits,” Scott mentioned. “At occasions our hook-up ratio was actually low, even with quick-strike rigging. Fish usually had been working and dropping baits. The nearer they arrive to truly spawning, the much less energetic feeding they do. It was such as you needed to be sitting proper over a tip-up in an effort to set as quickly because it hit in an effort to get hooks. That is simply not doable with many tip-ups out.”

Gator man Jeff Andersen makes use of a simple set of methods to search out and catch what he calls hog-belly pike.

The Glorvigens solved this drawback by going hole-to-hole with Frabill 24-inch Ice Hunter combo rods and reels with 30-pound braided line. “It is not that they weren’t hitting,” Scott added. “They had been dropping it. So we went to dwell 14-inch suckers with two optimistic outcomes: (1) Extra motion and water displacement, so pike can dwelling in on the bait higher; and (2) our Northland Predator Rigs assist hold a sucker crosswise to the present, with one hook close to the pinnacle and one hook close to the tail, creating much more vibration and a much bigger profile.”

“Pike are transferring nostril first into the present and here is this large sucker,” Marty mentioned. “He is toast. We put a 1/4- to 1/2-ounce egg sinker above the swivel on the rig to get it down by the present on braided line. The pike are proper below your ft, so hook-sets are instant.”

Andersen opts for tip-ups, saying he not often observes finicky conduct amongst staging pike. “I believe they’re there to feed,” he mentioned. “You’ve got high-pressure days the place pike seize the bait and drop it. That is when deadbaits work finest (we use herring flown in from the East Coast). I believe an 8- to 9-inch deadbait is optimum. It is extra refined. Dwell suckers get extra bites typically, however 8 out of 10 days deadbaits are finest.

“We additionally rattlebaits on rods and we catch fish. However the largest and essentially the most pike normally need deadbaits mendacity on the ground of the lake or dangling up greater below tip-ups. It is a straightforward meal they do not should expend quite a lot of power to catch. These fish are on the feed bag more often than not throughout late ice.”

Andersen is a companion in Massive Tooth Sort out, which makes quick-strike rigs that can be utilized on rod-and-reel or below a tip-up. “Some days our Massive Tooth Fluorocarbon Fast Strike Rig get extra bites ,” he mentioned. “Folks fear about breaking them, however you needn’t set hooks such as you’re hoisting a truck by the opening.”

The Glorvigens think about moon section of their quest for prodigious late-season pike.

If the gator will not come to you, why not go to the gator? “With sonar, you possibly can see the place they’re,” Scott Glorvien mentioned. “It is sight-fishing with sonar, virtually such as you do with panfish. We drill a sequence of holes shallow-to-deep in all instructions and hold transferring with a shelter. When the fish are energetic they appear to be shallow and after they’re inactive they’re within the deeper holes. Or you possibly can simply stroll round with out a shelter dipping the transducer in each gap till you see an enormous mark.

“I’ve bought the rod in hand and a sucker squirms when an enormous pike comes round,” he added. “It is like a warning buzzer. You already know pike are approaching when that sucker begins to battle. One among my largest pike final yr—23 kilos—I might really feel her approaching earlier than she arrived. After they take it, I drop the rod tip and set. With these two trebles within the head and tail, it is a positive deal. On larger baits, we go together with the rigs with #2 trebles.”

Whether or not the Glorvigens see a pike within the neighborhood or not, they slowly yo-yo these large suckers up and down within the water column—to inside two ft of the opening and again to backside. “Typically they chew on the high of the sequence, proper close to the opening,” Marty mentioned. “Relying on the climate, prespawn pike patrol depths various from 4 to greater than 20 ft deep, they usually’re not all the time cruising at any explicit depth. In the event that they’re swimming round 10 ft down and also you set a bait 18 ft down, they in all probability will not swim down for it.”

Be ready to hunt shallow and deep in all instructions from incoming circulation—and watch out. At late ice everybody ought to carry ice picks and life preservers. Reduce holes 10 to fifteen ft aside to check ice thickness in all instructions from the circulation to make sure correct protection of the world.

And do not kill large fish, please. “Some individuals are typically tough with pike, in comparison with trout,” Marty mentioned. “Watch out with them. We use tight-fitting, waterproof sealskin gloves, which supply a lot better management, so we do not drop fish on the ice. For trophy fish it needs to be catch-and-release solely.” Smaller fish must also be fastidiously launched, until you are going to eat them.

*In-Fisherman Subject Editor Matt Straw lives in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Ice Fishing Pike Spots: Stroll! (Do not Run)

Late within the season, the snow could also be gone, leaving glare ice. Most anglers (the good ones, no less than) put on creepers. Click on, clack. Late within the season, pike is perhaps in areas lower than 5 ft deep. Do they care about noise and motion up above as they race off with a meal locked of their tooth?

“The explanation pike usually drop a bait is individuals working to the tip-up,” ice information Jeff Andersen says. “When pike are in skinny water, they might drop baits due to noise and shadows transferring overhead. Take your time, stroll over, and also you hook extra fish.”

Stroll softly and keep on the remaining patches of snow when doable. Stroll on cracks and frozen snowmobile tracks. And, by all means—use quick-strike rigs and set hooks the second the road is tight in your hand.

1 Yukon River, Alaska

Outsize pike lurk within the bays and grassy backwaters of the Yukon River and its tributaries. Possibilities for fish from 25 to 30 kilos or higher are good within the cool, slow-moving waters. The Yukon has incredible alternatives for fly-fishing. At Midnight Solar Trophy Pike Adventures, a houseboat with lodging for six anglers serves as your wilderness base camp, with three guided ‘satellite tv for pc ‘ boats taking you into much more distant areas. They reported fish to 55 inches final yr. ­Contact: Midnight Solar Trophy Pike Adventures,

2 Taltson River, Northwest Territories

Penny considers the higher Taltson River to be the highest vacation spot for large pike in North America right now. Extra kilos per inch than anyplace else in North America, he says, the pike listed here are the hardest he is encountered. Massive walleyes, too, together with magnificent surroundings. Contact: Aurora Nights Lodge,, 867/394-4001.

3 Misaw Lake Lodge, Saskatchewan

Straw says Misaw Lake in northern Saskatchewan has a number of the most constant trophy pike fishing he is ever skilled. The Schwandt River, a wonderful big-pike venue, runs out of Misaw Lake close to Misaw Lake Lodge. Misaw produces pike over 50 inches lengthy most years, and the lodge provides fly-outs and hikes to different lakes filled with trophy pike that do not get fished for years. Contact: Misaw Lake Lodge,

4 Wollaston Lake, Saskatchewan

Wollaston Lake, the biggest lake on the planet that has outflows in two totally different drainage basins, produces numbers of trophy pike within the mid-40- to 50-inch vary yearly. Sight-fishing shallow is a high tactic for early season, with an limitless variety of factors, bays, and neckdowns that maintain pike by summer season. The lodge lodging and eating are first-class, and seasoned and educated guides are on the high of their recreation. ­Contact: Wollaston Lake Lodge,

5 Colorado Reservoirs, U.S.

Eleven Mile, Williams Fork, Spinney Mountain, and Stagecoach reservoirs all are high waters for giant pike, says Matt Smiley, gross sales supervisor for Eagle Claw primarily based in Denver. Final September, his good friend Mike Stark caught a 46 1/2-incher simply ounces shy of 30 kilos, a state-record caliber fish. All these reservoirs have 30-pound class fish that develop large on a weight loss program of trout, he says. Information Nathan Zelinsky specialised in trophy Colorado pike. He says peak occasions are Could and late September and early October. Techniques embrace trolling with planer boards in addition to casting jerkbaits, swimbaits and tubes. There’s additionally an incredible topwater chew in July or August, he says. Contact: Information Nathan Zelinsky, Tightline Outside, 720/775-7770; Colorado Parks and Wildlife,

6 Lac La Martre, Northwest Territories

In-Fisherman contributor and trophy pike skilled Jack Penny likes Lac La Martre for 20- to 30-pound pike. With spectacular sight-fishing, it is a fly fisherman’s dream, he says. Fish stay shallow all yr. Crystal clear water with bonus big lake trout. Contact: Lac La Martre Adventures,, 810/334-9381.

7 Nice Slave Lake, Northwest Territories

Among the many high spots in In-Fisherman Subject Editor Matt Straw’s record is Trout Rock Lodge, on the north shore of Nice Slave Lake. It is situated in an archipelago fashioned by a whole bunch of islands, which shield a number of the most expansive far northern pike habitat on earth. Straw says you may discover plenty of “kraken,” because the locals name pike over 40 inches lengthy. And he reviews extra 50-inch pike are caught right here yearly than anyplace he is been. Contact: Trout Rock Lodge,

8 Athabasca Lake, Saskatchewan

This huge water, stretching over 230 miles, with giant linked rivers and plentiful pike habitat, has great fishing for giant pike, Penny says. Largely recognized for giant lakers, the pike fishing is ignored. A number of traditional weedy bays with clear water. Among the largest pike in Saskatchewan await anglers. Contact: Lakers Limitless,, 780/853-1151; Blackmur’s Athabasca Fishing Lodges,, 877/922-0957.

10 Reindeer Lake, Saskatchewan

At over 180 miles lengthy and as much as 60 miles vast, Reindeer Lake is filled with traditional pike habitat, with hundreds of islands, structural parts, and weedy bays. Final season, Lawrence Bay Lodge recorded their largest catches of massive pike from 18 to 35 kilos, and a few over 35. Sight-fishing is a high technique in some areas. Fishing deeper construction and weededges additionally produces big pike at sure occasions. Bonus lake trout, walleyes, and grayling. Contact: Lawrence Bay Lodge,

9 Wet Lake, Ontario

The placement of quite a few TV segments for In-Fisherman Tv, Wet Lake on the Ontario-U.S. border stays one of many high drive-to locations in North America. Pike within the 10- to 15-pound vary are widespread, with probabilities at 40-inch-plus fish. The weeks after ice-out discover postspawn pike in shallow weedy bays­ — prime time to focus on pike with flies. Later into June, pike transition to deep weedlines, and plenty of fish transfer to rocky buildings in fall. Contact: Woody’s Wet Lake Resort and Pretty Dependable Information Service,; Camp Narrows Lodge,

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