Middle of the winter becomes more challenging for catching Pike than early ice is. That being said, you can still have some great days on the ice. If there are still some weeds on the mid-depth flats of the bays, don’t be afraid to fish there, but most likely they are all dead. Since the weeds within the shallow bays are dead, it is safe to assume that the Pike have migrated to deeper waters.
Some examples of deeper structures are the base of drop-offs, humps, or shoreline points. Start your search along the break lines of these structures. Some key areas to focus on, are inside turns, steep inclines transitioning to gentle slopes, and transitions from hard to soft bottom. These areas will congregate fish.
Why It is important to focus your efforts on those micro transitions mentioned above (weed lines, soft to hard bottom, inside turns) because these not only act as congregating points, but fish use them as highways to move from spot to spot.
The Northern Pike has to leave the shallows at this time due to the lack of oxygen. The deeper water is also usually warmer and provides the pike with much more prey (almost all species migrate deeper). For example, species who live in lakes that do not have access to deep water often suffer from winter kill. This is where most species die because they cannot access deeper water for oxygen.
Tactic Start your search on the edge of the bays you found them during early ice (shallow, mid depth, deep access bays). If no fish are there, move to the base of the drop-offs or other off shore structure. With ice fishing, it is important to drill a lot of holes and to keep moving, or cover as many different areas as possible. For example, have holes on the shallow flats of the bay, on the mid-depth weed lines, and at the base of the drop-off.
Some great Baits to use during this time of the year are spoons or jigs if you prefer moving from hole to hole. If you just want to sit back and enjoy the weather, tip ups are an option many anglers resort to and have had proven success. If you’re with a group, place the tip ups at various assuming spots. Such as one tip up shallow and one deep.
Either move from hole to hole with a flashy jig/spoon and try to get reaction strikes or setup a predator rig on a tip up with either a dead bait or live (6”-12”) work best.