I'm still relatively new to ice fishing and trying to improve my success with tip ups for northerns and walleyes. Is there a rule of thumb for how far off the bottom I should set my tip ups?
Tip up Set Up
Farcast2- Tip up depth setting can be anywhere in the water column depending on depth and structure. There is a few lakes that I fish minnows right under the ice in weeds up to 10 feet. There is lakes were your with in a foot of the bottom in 15 to 25 foot range. There is also a lake I fish in 35+ fow but have bait 10 to 15 feet off the bottom close to structure. Without knowing the depths and structure is hard to know what your after. Once I was jigging in that 35+ fow catching small wall eyes on bottom. Watching the fish come up down the hole could see large fish taking swipe at it. Even close to the hole this large walleye grabbed that smaller one. So it is possible anywhere in the water column.
I agree, Herb. Very important to mark those good spots with gps. Can be 100 ft away and no flags
Ulbian I agree you have to move all the time--each day is different. The high def mapping tells you where to move. A 6" change some days makes the location work. The GPS mark from last time out helps you get back to the spot!
They've pretty much covered everything you need to know about getting started. One thing to do is pay attention to what is and isn't working and don't let them sit there and freeze in for hours on end. You wouldn't cast a bobber out and let it sit in the same dead spot forever, so why neglect a tip up?
If there is one common thread with people who don't have success with tip ups is they set it and that's it. While jigging you notice if a fish comes up with some weeds on them, maybe move a tip up closer to the now known weeds. Simple details that get over looked is what really is the difference between successful fishermen and the rest. We all have the same gear for the most part, it's listening to what the lake is telling you that day.
Fishing for pike, I get a lot of flags just by stomping up loudly to the tip up. Causes a reaction strike where they grab it and run. Best to wait a bit before you set the hook when this happens. They don’t always have a good grip on the Minnow or hook in mouth after reaction strikes. Then as others said, raise Minnow up several feet and drop it. Frequently get a strike as I’m walking away, or a few minutes later. Every day/lake is different. Some days dead bait a foot off the bottom rules, other days large shiners 3 to 4 ft below ice works best. And anything and everything in between. This applies to pike only, of course. So best to start out with baits at 3 different depths per person, and see what works best. Then move them all to the hot depth and similar type of area.
I pretty much walleye fish my flags during winter. I start as follows...
Flag 1, 1" off bottom
Flag 2, 6" off bottom
Flag 3, 1' off bottom
This is the way I start, what I found a week ago was that the 1' flags were tripping consistently. Last year at the same time, same location, 1" were. So you have to be changing your depths, watching your bait, swapping bait types.
One thing I have noticed that consistently works is that once total darkness sets in, having 1 or 2 minnows on bottom kicking up silt does seem to make a big difference in action.
You touched on structure fishing and the value of mapping. I won’t argue the validity of that...but...you gotta actively work your lines to pattern things. Fish might be in locations the modern day technology brought you too but that technology isn’t going to make them eat.
Also...when covering water chasing schooling fish that reside over flats. The mapping technology will only get you so far. It’ll let you know that there’s a flat and perhaps what the bottom content is but that’s as far as it’ll go. When you’re fishing large flats staying on the move is far more important than mapping. You’re on a flat...well duh. What is a GPS going to tell you beyond that? Lines in the water being actively fished will yield information that has more value.
Ulbian you covered most of success. Modern day tech helps a lot more.
Gps mapping showing lay of land below water really helps. A drop off,
small changes in contour. The fish travel mostly same routes each day,
you have to find these routes! Stay away from crowds and noise. Fish feel you walking around. When you find a good hole mark it for a starting hole for your next day out.
“Tip up fishing isn’t a static sport if you are going to be consistently successful.”
Highlighting that for emphasis. Tipups are not a Ronco Rotisserie oven where you set it and forget it. Keep working them. Every 10 minutes or so I’m doing something with mine. A lift, moving them to a different location, re-hooking bait, changing type of hook...etc. You use them to cover water. Leaving them sit for extended periods at a time is not efficient at all. I view using tipups as “ice trolling.” Constantly moving, covering water, covering different depths.... Working them in a dynamic way can get you onto fish a heck of a lot quicker than if you just set them and leave them be.
One thing to remember with pike is they have eyes on top of their head and feed up. Another thing to consider is to frequently lift your tip ups and allow the bait to flutter down. Northerns are notorious for watching the bait and wont hit it unless it moves. Tip up fishing isn’t a static sport if you are going to be consistently successful.
Yesterday I was showing a group of fisherman the weeds in their tip up hole with my camera. I dropped the camera down to the level of their bait and when I rotated the camera a large pike was inches away staring at the bait. The camera doesn’t startle fish, in fact it will attract them and I’ve had pike attack the camera.