Recently, I had an ice fisherman from Bozeman send me an e-mail with a question about northern pike fishing.
The e-mail and the question went like this: “In the last three years, we have managed to catch a few northerns on tip-ups, but we have not even had a bite while jigging. On tip-ups we have caught one 28-pounder, one 22-pounder, and three 13-pounders and a few others. We never do spectacular, but we have never been skunked. Do you have any helpful hints, tricks, or jigs to use while jigging?”
My reply was pretty simple and probably didn’t help him very much. I e-mailed: “One of the reasons that you are successful with tip-ups for northern pike is in some lakes east of the mountains, the tip-ups can be unattended. Northern Pike seem to be very sensitive to noise and when anglers are jigging they tend to make more noise sitting over the ice-hole than just leaving a tip-up sitting out in the ice hole a few yards away and watching for the flag to go up.
“Plus,” I continued, “Most of the time you will catch northern pike in shallower water (3-8 feet deep) in a back bay or off a point.”
Northern Pike are tough to figure out most of the time.
East of the mountains, in the lakes where you can use live minnows on fishing rods, you will catch as many northern pike as you do walleye or ling. But in the lakes where dead bait like smelt or even silver herring are only allowed, then plan on pulling up northern pike only when the flag on your tip-up goes up.
Speaking of northern pike, the pike-spearers up at Seeley Lake have had a slow time in the last week. Before that time, reports surfaced that a 27-pound northern pike had been speared.
Most of the spear anglers I have spoken with think the slowdown has something to do with the full moon phase.
If you have any advice for the Bozeman pike fisherman, please e-mail it to me and I’ll pass it along. Just e-mail it to: email@example.com.
The ice derby season rolls on and is continuing with a number of events scheduled in February.
A very popular derby will take place on McGregor Lake, west of Kalispell, on February 12-13. Every year they have close to 1,000 anglers participate in the derby. The derby focus is on lake trout and rainbow trout.
“This is my favorite winter tournament,” said Dick Zimmer, of Zimmer Bait and Tackle in Pablo. “McGregor can be a tough lake to fish and I’ll be happy to share information I’ve acquired over the years to help you have success.”
Zimmer adds that the first tip he will give you is the less noise on the ice surface, the better you do.
A spokesman from the McGregor Lake Lodge, the derby sponsor, said the fishing has been slow recently and that there is about 2-4 inches of ice across the lake with only one open water spot. For more information call 406-858-2253.
On February 12, the Snappys Sport Center Fishing Derby will take place on Lake Mary Ronan. The derby runs from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. with no entry fee. This is a great derby to take your kids to and spend a day on the ice. There are lots of prizes and it is a hard to go away without winning something. Call Mountain Meadows Lodge 849-5459 for more information.