Big Fish Ruled the 2022 Zippel Bay Resort Ice Out Pike Tournament
What a weekend of pike fishing. The mantra of this year’s tournament was “great timing and lots of big pike”. According to Zippel Bay Resort owner Nick Painovich, “It was a really good year. The big females were done spawning and were in the bay eating and gaining strength back.” With that said, there were big fish in the Bay and a lot of nice fish caught.
Overall, there were 68 two-person teams that competed. 438 pike were weighed in for a total of 1,488 total pounds. That doesn’t include the fish between 30 – 40 inches that must be released.
Lake of the Woods has a year round season on pike and a length limit as well. Anglers are allowed to keep three per day. Fish between 30-40 inches must be released with anglers able to keep one fish over 40 inches. This slot limit is one of the many reasons Lake of the Woods is a trophy pike destination.
“Some anglers were using dead bait. Other were casting spoons or trolling crankbaits,” explains Painovich. The larger fish caught are typically females. It was clear they were spawned out as many of the fish were big and long, but lacking weight due to their recent spawn. This is one of the reasons they will be putting the feedbag on to regain strength and size.
Pike don’t receive a ton of attention on Lake of the Woods as the walleyes garner most of the love. March tip up fishing and a little bit of spring fishing is when anglers target these green spotted predators most often. They are in good abundance, are usually willing to bite and are great to eat once you get the “Y” bone out.
Some anglers will pickle pike. The texture is very good for pickling and many like them better than pickled herring. Bones get dissolved when pickled.
The MN DNR does test netting of pike every few years. They shoot for 3% of fish over 40 inches. In recent surveys, they found more than double that number. There are a lot of trophy fish in this system, especially considering this is U.S. waters.
According to the MN DNR, there is often a pattern of lakes in MN that have big walleyes and pike have something in common, a good population of tulibees. Lake of the Woods fits the bill in this regard. When both walleyes and pike get to be larger, tulibees become a staple part of their diet. They also cause fish that eat them to get big quickly.
If this looks like a lot of fun, it is! Mark your calendars for the 2023 tournament. Grab a friend or relative and make plans to fish. Zippel Bay is like a small inland lake and a boat from 14 foot and up will work very nicely.