Dead Bait, Live Minnows and Hot Dogs for Pike

Preserved baitfish, live shiners and hotdogs have one thing in common: they catch northern pike through the ice.

Dead Bait, Live Minnows and Hot Dogs for Pike

Golden shiners are among a handful of go-to baitfish for anglers looking to catch northern pike during the winter. Live bait presentations draw anglers and fish alike with their erratic display under the ice offering an easy meal to the toothy critters lurking below in search of a snack.

There’s no denying that live bait tactics work but switching things up and offering different presentations can be a good strategy to get more fish on the ice when the flags aren’t moving. There are also some parts of the country where live bait is prohibited so anglers need to rely on other options to entice these freshwater predators.


Wisconsin northern pike caught on dead bait.
Wisconsin northern pike caught on dead bait.

Ever Tried Hot dogs?

Hot dogs do indeed work. With the right rigging, the motionless presentation of a horizontal hot dog suspended under a tip-up has proven to catch monster pike for many anglers across the Midwest. Oscar Mayer, Ball Park or Hebrew National, the brand doesn’t seem to matter — it’s more about timing.

When the ice is getting thinner in late winter seems to be the best time to use hot dogs or dead bait. At this point in the season, the lake has undergone an entire year of predation, disease and natural die-off of baitfish species so food can be in short supply before new fry hatch in the spring. As food options run out, fish become less picky about what they consume and will often turn to any meal available, even if it means scavenging carrion.

Also Try Preserved Bait

Preserved bait can be an effective tool to catch many species of fish at any point in the season and under tip-ups for pike is no exception, especially when fish begin targeting dead fish. Magic Preserved Baits have a complete line of preserved natural bait options from fathead minnows to golden shiners in small, medium and large sizes perfect for this technique. When rigging tip-ups in late winter for giant pike, tell your customers to go big. Large baits don’t always mean large fish, but in this case it sure helps.

Magic Preserved Golden Shiners - Size Large
Magic Preserved Golden Shiners - Size Large

Magic’s Preserved Baits are available only to retailers and come in various package sizes which use a resealable laminated pouch for fresh sealing after each use. They don’t require refrigeration and have a long shelf life, so they can stay on the shelf for rigging on jig heads during the spring and summer months.

Stocking hot dogs isn’t a bad idea either. They work for pike bait or an angler’s lunch, so it doesn’t hurt to have few packs in the bait cooler. If the fish don’t eat them, reel them in and toss them over the heater for a few minutes.



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