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Pike in Backwaters

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Has anyone done much early ice pike fishing in the Wabasha backwater areas? One of my goals for hard water is to land a pike through the ice on a rod and reel rather than a tip up. Any lure, location, or technique suggestions would be appretiated.

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First off, you will want to confine youyr fishing to the south side of the road. There is way too much current to venture on the north side with a float of some sort.

After you cross the High Bridge in wabasha, you coulld try the high lines at the second cement bridge. They will be on the downstream side of the road (south of course) and back off the road about a block. Numerous weed beds along both shores as you walk back from the road will hold pannies and the pike will not be far. There are several areas where pools will hold them too, but I think that the spots with current will be more apt to hold feeding pike.

I'd go with a larger jigging spoons and would probably prefer those with rattles to get the fishs' attention. JB Lures has the Rattling Varmit which, in the largest sizes, would be perfect. Don't dismiss the good ole Daredevil as a jigging spoon. Pumped hard they can throw out some outstanding fish attracting noise. A trick is to add a #2 willow leaf to the split ring with the hook....added flash and clatter. While very active fish will hit lures without bait, I recommend at least a minnows head on a hook for some real meat type attraction. I'd also lean on bright colors since the water tends to have a lot of stain to it.

If it were me, I'd locate a long piece of weedline on one shore and drill all of my holes in one shot, then go to the opposite shore and drill another long line of holes if there are weedlines present there too. I'd space the holes about thirty feet apart and drill 10 or fifteen in a row. Both sides of the channel. Since you are jigging large lures, you don't have to be fussy about cleaning the holes really...just enough to allow the jig to drop thru. I'd start in an end hole and jig for 5 minutes and then do the third hole for 5 and then the fifth, seventh...until you hit the end hole and then start back to hole one, but fish the unused holes on this trip. And walk very quietly if you can when going from hole to hole. Once one side is fished once, slide over and repeat at the other line of holes or simply repeat if just the one line is punched. Pike are free movers in the cold water and hunting them will be more advantageous than waiting them out.

If you have clear ice and no snow, plan to wear clothes with subdued colors. If you are out there in blaze, pike will be able to see you and will not hang around. I'll often lose my pet green cap when the ice is new and snowless.

Lure colors will of course vary, but I would suggest having at least one bait with black and bright red on it. Others in chartreuses yellows, whites and the orange/gold. Don;t get hung up on one color unless it is clearly the solid producer.

I would not limit myself to just the backwaters either. Every boat harbor along the Miss from Red Wing to wherever there is ice will hold some pigs. Being from Rochester, don't forget Lake Zumbro.

You are embarking on a quest that isn't often seen....that of pike chasing with tackle in the winter. Most people opt for the bait and wait tactics and do well once in a while, but hunting these critters is a lot like going after deer instead of waiting them out and can be extremely productive. Be sure and let us know how you do. Luck to ya, bud!

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