So I am thinking of heading up to upper red this winter to tip-up fish for pike. How do you know what a good spot is on a lake like that, that is a big dish-pan and (I am assuming here) litte to no weedline to fish. The only thing I can think of is to fish near where water flows into the lake. Thoughts? Will it be a waste of time without a guide?
Early ice is the time to be shallow and in my opinion the best time to pike fish here on upper red. The main break is definately the place to key on(runs 3-7ft). It seems daily if not hourly these fish are on different parts of the break weather its on top,just off, or on the break itself. I like to fish with as many people as possible, just so I can cover a variety of depths/presentations and than adjust my tip-ups from there. If your alone don't be afraid to pop a few new holes and start leap froggin on the break. As the ice starts to thicken and we get some snow cover these fish will start to spread out more and become much more nomadic. There are still pike in shallow(will be all winter) just not as many. Honestly you can pretty much catch a pike anywhere on red lake at this time of year. But rock piles, the cribs,transitions basically any kind of strucuture that hold fish will hold pike. But honestly some of the largest pike I've seen come from red lake has been on the mud flats in the middle of nowhere, they are nomadic and just cruising looking for prey. As for bait I prefer smelt/ciscoes just because you dont have to worry about keeping them alive, its a great stink bait, and its an easy target for them. I have had days where they prefer suckers to ciscoes but not very many, when you come up bring a variety of bait never know what will work. Make sure the smelt/ciscoes are preserved, mn has a new rule on that, they're trying to help stop the spread of VHS.
Even eminent chartered accountants are known, in their capacity as fishermen, blissfully to ignore differences between seven and ten inches, half a pound and two pounds, three fish and a dozen fish. ~ William Sherwood Fox, Silken Lines and Silver Hooks, 1954