By: Kyle Deavers
Due to late arriving ice Saturday was the first time I’d ice fished for pike this year. Meanwhile, upon arrival there were so many people already fishing I was contemplating heading back to the harbor to fish for browns and steelhead. Upon arrival we noticed more than 100 anglers already set up on the ice. There was a fishing jamboree going on and we were late to the party. All the good spots were accounted for.
Instead, went to a spot where no one was. It was over in the corner away from the crowds and while unpacking my gear my friends looked at me funny. They saw my four bags of bait and thought I was crazy to have two containers, one with Chartreuse and Red Fire Dye live shiners, and the others with Red and Chartreuse dead Fire Brine smelt and shiners.
Rather than run the same baits I’d fished since a kid I wanted to experiment as I’d heard of a few other anglers having success with these techniques in other states. My friends, however, wanted their traditional un-brined and non-colored baits. It didn’t take long to convince them this technique would work, however. I remember setting my first three tips up with a Chartreuse Fire Dye live shiner and one being up while I was setting the others.
As my fourth flag went up one of my friends came over and asked for my bag. He was finally convinced and wanted to try. The color baits were pacing fishing and were literally the only offerings being eaten on the busy lake. Surprisingly, we were out of bait in two hours. Once our bait bucket dried up so did the bites.
The thing that is really cool about running live dyed baits and dead brined baits is you can’t tell how vibrant the color is just by looking in the counter. On the other hand, when they hit the water they glow. They are bright. Their fins and tails glow when they move. A fish can see them a long distance away. It’s like a glowing minnow in the water and of course a pike is going to hit that. Anything that gets a pike’s attention they are going to hit it. Chartreuse and red and bright colors and next time I’m going to use the blue, purple, pink and maybe orange, too. With those colors it doesn’t take long for a pike to see them.
When I’m fishing the live minnows I like to keep them two feet under the hole. This way the pike can see them from long distance. I like keeping the live minnows up off the bottom because they are moving and bright and the fish can spot them. The dead bait I put on the bottom for lazier pike. Those guys will take the dead minnows.
Rigging them is easy. For both live and dead bait I hook them in the middle of their back with a size 10 treble hook and drop them down.
I’m heading back lake fishing this week and can’t wait to catch lake trout, walleye, perch and pike this way. No one does this. In fact, not many people have thought about doing this. I know I didn’t until I saw another pro staffer try it.
(Above: A live Chartreuse Fire Dye minnow in the mouth of a pike.)
It’s almost like a new hot bait that no one has. Very few people have dyed live minnows and dead smelt for pike, historically, but I’m guessing that as word gets out it’s going to become a common pike bait. Even the brined and colored dead bait gets bit more than non-colored dead bait. It’s something different than they’ve never seen.
Consider this, there are 100 shiners being fished through the ice that look exactly the same. It’s the colored one that’s going to get the pike’s attention and it’s going to be on my line. It’s something you should try, too.
How to Do It
Step: 1 Got Bait?
Obtain live bait from a local tackle shop/sporting goods retailer.
Step: 2 Bring on the Fire Dye
Place live bait in smaller container. By putting them in a smaller container that doesn’t hold a lot of water they’ll obtain the color better and faster. I’ll put six to a dozen in each container and then add one-third of a bottle of Fire Dye. If you put way too much it will kill them. You have to be careful with that. Keep them aerated at all times, but that is normal when keeping live bait.
Step: 3 Let Em’ Dye
Let them soak in the solution for two days (some guys do shorter soaks, but if you have time longer is better). You’ll see them changing colors.
Step: 4 The Move to the Bucket
I’ll use the water that’s already in the container and pour it in a larger minnow bucket that goes to the lake. At this point I’ll add more water, roughly the same amount that’s already in the container. If you want to add more dye at this point you can and it will make them brighter. They are ready to fish.
The Dead Brine
Brining dead shiners and smelt for pike is effortless. Simply place the dead bait in a container or Ziploc and then add whatever color of Fire Brine you’d like the bait to be. I like chartreuse, red and pink best. Let the baits sit for 12-24 hours and you’re ready to fish.
Editor’s Note: Guide Kyle Deavers operates Big Boy Fishing in Southeast Wisconsin. For more info please visit https://www.facebook.com/Big-boy-fishing-235069236589269/info/.