For fishing on bottom with deadbait rigs, use an in-line wire leader, hooking the baitfish behind the head on the treble hook farthest from your sinker. Insert the other treble somewhere into the back or near the tail of the deadbait. Then toss it out, and let it sit.
If you prefer a large slip bobber rig, you might prefer a Y-shaped quick strike rig often used for ice fishing. Simply insert the two trebles, one near the head, the other behind the dorsal fin. Important: the bait should hang level. Set your slip bobber to suspend the bait a foot off bottom.
Then cast it out, and let it slowly drift until it comes to rest.
Flippin’ sticks spooled with 20- to 30-pound test are about right for handling pike of all sizes.
Patience is a virtue. Bites come whenever fish grow a bit active and begin prowling the back ends of bays. The odds go to sunny afternoons, especially when the winds are calm. Although, mighty big pike can still be caught despite gloomy skies and cold temperatures.
Leave your reels in freespool. If your bobber starts moving or goes down, or the line with a weighted bottom rig starts to go out, pick up the rod, tighten up slack, and set the hook right away. With two-hook quick strike rigs, you needn’t wait to let fish swallow the bait. Pike hooked in the mouth are very releasable and will live to bite and fight again.
If you prefer a more active and aggressive approach, cast the back ends of bays or coves with a suspending jerkbait, or sinking lure like a Rapala CountDown. Use slow, fairly steady retrieves, imparting long pauses with suspending lures. Don’t overwork your lures, or you won’t get bit, especially if the water is still cold.