One of the best times to catch really big Northern Pike is now. And in Febuary the fish are at their fattest so it's your chance at a 20lber!
It seems most fishermen use "Golden Shinners" as their only choice for a live minnow at this time of year. These are not native to any of the lakes I fish. My choice is always a Tip up and a large sucker for the biggest Pike. A big key to my success includes using a 20lb test mono leader! I like to use as long a leader as I can. 6 feet if fishing in about nine feet of water. I use a small swivel to connect my black dacron line to the mono lead & a #4 treble hook. Make sure the swivel is not in the spool but hanging below the tip-up. This helps keep your line from tangling.
It is very important not to set the hook hard, you will cut the line. By adding presure to the line and starting a steady retrieve of the line while a pike is running, the hook sets itself. Let the fish run when he wants and retrieve the line when you can, until he tires and can be landed. Be patient! If the fish swallows the hook just cut the line before release.
These tips are my keys to consistent big fish. They work anywhere! If you fish in an area that gets alot of preasure give this a try, I bet YOU will have all the action!