Alaska > Ice Fishing Alaska

How to...? Please Help


I live on the upper kuskokwim river in McGrath, Alaska and want to ice fish for burbot and pike this winter, problem is, I have no experience with either.  Any information would be wonderful.  Bait?  Presentation?  Set or jig?  Locations?  

I have fished northern pike my whole life (my largest to date being 48.5"), just not through the ice.  I haven't taken a lush yet (but have tried summer sets).  

Thanks in Advance,


Burbot are pretty easy once you find their location.  If you know where they are, that's half the battle.  On the river look for back waters, confluance areas, sloughs, and deep holes.  If it's a lake, look for weed edges, drop-offs, and gravel shoals.  I don't know what the limits are on set lines for the Kuskokwim, but this may be a great way to start for Burbs.  Take a 3 ft. long heavy stick of 2x2 and tie about 30 ft. of 40 lb. test dacron line or higher, onto the center.  You will want to leave them out overnight, so mark with name, address, phone # so the warden won't pinch you and take some of your hard earned $$ away.  Wrap it around the stick.  Tie a 3/4" gap octopus or circle hook off one foot from the end of the line, (3/4" is the legal gap size used for setlines in AK.)  If the current is heavy, tie a heavy sinker to the bottom of the line, otherwise a 1/2 oz. wieght will do.  So now you have a poormans way of making setlines, and all you have to do is set them.  Drill a hole, bait with herring, smelt, lamprey, shrimp, or even chicken livers.  Then place the bait into the hole and rest on the bottom.  Don't give it too much slack line but just enough to rest on the bottom.  Then fill your hole in with snow and try to remember where you put the set!  Check them every 3 hours, or the next morning.  Burbot are heavy feeders during the nighttime hours so consentrate on fishing them at night and not the day.  You may catch a couple during the day, but your production time is at night.  
The other method that I played with last year was to jig for them at night in the shanty with glow in the dark jigs tipped with herring.  They seemed to really like the action and were a blast on hook and line!  Drop the bait to the bottom, and pick it up slowly, then drop it back down hard!  Chumming sometimes help to get them into the mood.
Pike are pretty basic!  I fish tip-ups, herring, 2/0 trebles, 2 ft. 50 lb. flourocarbon leaders, and at least a 8" augered hole!  You should probably stick with a 10" hole eh!  Look for weed lines and don't be scared to try various depths.  I have caught them in 2 ft. of water down to 35 ft.  You are allowed two poles, so jig with one and use a tip-up with the other.  Jigs can include; Swedish Pimples, Pixies, Nils baits, Cabelas jiggin' spoons, etc......  Remember to play them up the hole and never force them in!  Pike will make quick work of your line in a hurry.  I use 17 lb. test for jigging, with a small wire leader.  Never hurts to place a little smelly jelly on the jig for insurance.  
I hope this helps you out!  Remember to invite me along sometime.  

Thanks alot BD,

I will be putting your recommendations to use as soon as time permits.  =0-)  (Just have to find some bait now as we don't have any smelt, eel or even chick livers).

I would invite you to come out any time, but it is a long way from northpole and the fishing isn't all that exciting.  The only real species we can target in the summer months in pike and they aren't all that large.  A good sized pike for my area is around 30-36 inches with my record for McGrath being 48".  I love catching these fish.  

Thanks again Barley,

You could try to get some salted minnows via the internet?  We have frozen herring at Freddies, Safeway, and the baitshop in Fairbanks.  If you know of anyone heading into town or down to Anchorage, tell them to pick some up!  They are worth their wieght in gold.  Frozen sardines work good also.  I mentioned shrimp, well don't buy the pre-cooked shrimp, buy the raw!  Big difference to the fish.  I usually take a trip to Valdez two times a year and pick Herring up already frozen for the upcoming ice fishing season, (they are huge which limits the amount of hammer handle pike taking the bait.)  SOunds like your pike are about average for this area, once you find a spot.  ;D Tight Lines -Barleydog


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