Skip to Content

How to Keep Ice Fishing Spikes Alive?

How to Keep Ice Fishing Spikes Alive?

Spikes are some of the most popular bait for ice fishing because they can live on just about anything.

However, it’s important to know how best to care for these little guys so that you don’t lose a good catch because of a careless mistake!

This article will teach you how to keep your spikes happy while they wait patiently for the fish to take the bait.

Are Spikes Considered Maggots?

spikes and maggots are the same
Yes, spikes and maggots are the same. Maggots are the larval form of flies that can digest flesh. Spikes are the larval stage of blowflies.

The blowfly is a fly that does not lay eggs, but rather lays its larvae right on a carcass and with minimal care, it will thrive.

The spike thrives on dead flesh which is why it’s important to keep your bait alive until you are done using them.

Blowflies are the adults of several species in the order Diptera, some of which belong to the family Calliphoridae.

Their larvae have extremely short life spans and consume large amounts of decaying tissue to build up the fat reserves that will sustain them through their pupal stage and into adulthood.

How Long do Spikes Live?

the lifespan of a pike is about a week

They’re short-lived because they don’t have a self-feeding endo-organism that they feed on as many other insect larvae do.

They’re pretty much predators, and when they fully mature into adult blowflies, they’ll eat almost anything.

For that reason, it’s important to be careful with your bait when you ice fish.

Although live and fresh spikes work great as baits, dead or stale spikes are useless. You don’t want to go through the trouble of catching a nice fish only to have the bait be stale and useless. The best thing you can do is take proper care of your spikes until it’s time to use them as bait.

How Do You Keep Spikes Alive When Ice Fishing?

keeping spikes in a dark environment with very little oxygen
To keep spikes alive when ice fishing, it is vital to be conscious of the hatchery-like conditions.

They can’t withstand the light or warm air, so they must be kept in a dark environment with very little oxygen.

When ice fishing, you will need to wrap the bait in an insulated package and put it in a sealed container that is completely submerged in cold water.

The bait should get as close to freezing temperatures as possible without actually going below freezing; this way they will still have some oxygen.

If it is possible to find or make a hatchery for the larvae, you will be able to keep them alive much longer.

Some other ways to keep spikes alive include:

how to keep spikes alive when ice fishing
Maggots in a bucket – If you want to keep your spikes alive throughout the fishing day, place some of your fish/bait into a bucket and hook an aerator into it.

This will distribute O2 rich water over them just as they would be submerged in natural conditions.

It’s best to wrap the top of the bucket with foil or put on two layers of garbage bags – one that is zipped shut to hold humidity and another that allows for air circulation from the aerator (one can be thrown away at any point if it becomes full).

Maggots in a glove box – Many anglers believe that keeping maggots in a bucket or bait box will work just fine to keep them alive.

However, many times that isn’t the case, even with aerators. If you want to be better off, putting your maggots in some enclosed device (glove box) where water is constantly circulating would be better. This way there won’t be pockets of water that can form ice over and kill all of your spikes!

Maggots in saltwater – Just as with the adults, if you have access to a body of saltwater you can place your maggots into either that source or put them into a bucket with saltwater.

Keep in mind: Because these flies are attracted to carcasses and carrion they will often lay their eggs on the surface of a frozen lake. So if you need to bring live larvae/maggots back with you, it’s best to keep them in a plastic bag and have an aerator blowing over them until you get home at night.

Submerged in water: If you must keep spikes alive when ice fishing, place them in a small container with holes in the top and bottom. You can also use a bar rag to make a hatchery. Hang this from the ice through the air holes and make sure it is 100 percent submerged in cold water.

What temperature should blowfly larvae be kept at when ice fishing?

keeping blowfly larvae alive at 32 degrees for a short period on ice
If you just want them alive for a short period on ice, then 32 degrees is fine, but for longer periods, about 50 degrees is best.

You must use the spikes before they die. You will usually have a better chance of catching fish if you quickly put the larvae on ice rather than trying to keep it alive for an extended period.

When fishing with spikes, be sure to:

  • Freeze the larvae before you go fishing and keep them chilled until you’re ready to use them.
  • Avoid getting the larvae near the air, as it will dry them out too quickly.
  • Keep your bait in a sealed container to avoid drying out in direct sunlight. Never touch the larvae; they will feel slimy because of the oils they secrete which act as their natural bug repellent.

This can be avoided by wearing waders with rubber boots and keeping your hands in the gloves. Keep a towel handy to wipe your glove free of oils if you need to touch them!

Remember that larvae are not very active, so don’t expect much action from your bait. This means you must pay very close attention to even the smallest bumps or jerks on your line.

Things to keep in mind are how the environment affects the flies, and whether you need to do anything about it. If there is a river nearby, make sure that your bait is iced over both sides.

Under these conditions, you will need to keep the flies under a 20-degree angle from horizontal. When ice fishing, it is important to remember that when the fish takes the bait, you reel him in.

The fish will likely be moving downward because of the pull of your line, so be sure that you don’t have your bait positioned at the top of the water surface!

  • Be sure to bait your hook thoroughly with blowfly larvae before tossing it into the water.
  • It may help to squish the larvae against the hook. This will make them sticky and more attractive to any fish swimming by.
  • Make sure you leave enough hanging out of the water that it will still be alive when a fish decides to take off with your line!

Common Mistakes Made When Using Spikes as Bait

attaching a spike to a hook for ice fishing

  • Not rousing the larvae with your hook before casting your line into the water. They need to be moving around to catch a fish’s attention!
  • Insufficiently squishing them onto your hook.
  • Releasing larvae improperly. If you drop a spike into the water, it may float out of reach of your hook, and off into the sunset…

In conclusion, keep spikes alive when ice fishing!

An expert fisher should know how to keep his bait fresh and ready for anything. This doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert fisherman yourself; this article is written with beginners in mind.

By knowing how to keep spikes alive when ice fishing, you are one step ahead of the game. A big fish is waiting for you and if you follow the information provided in this article, it will know your bait is fresh from miles away!