Livebaiting is most effective when the pike want a moving bait. Pretty obvious really! One of my most effective rigs when the water is very cold is the paternoster rig which tethers the bait in a fixed position and prevents it from drifting out of the swim. It's a top method when a long wait is expected and when pike are doing everything very slowly as they do in very cold water. It gives them time to approach the bait and sit and watch it until they are ready to take it. Pike will watch a bait for hours if necessary, and I believe that they often just look at our baits, live or deadbaits, and we don't realise it.
A trick I've used many times to provoke a take is to move the paternoster rig, very gently and just a few inches or so. This has the effect of livening up the bait which often becomes lethargic itself in the cold water. When I move it, I like to feel the bait 'kick' which tells me it is still on the hooks. I have a very effective way of keeping livebaits on the hook, but now and again they do come off for reasons unknown. If I feel the bait kick, I'll leave it in position for another twenty minutes before repeating the process. If I'm unsure it's still on the hooks, I'll recast after waiting only ten minutes.
A take usually comes just as I'm moving the bait or within five minutes of doing so. When I've moved the bait as far as I can and without a take, I'll recast to another part of the swim. When pike are in a torpid mood, a cast just five yards away might land your bait on a pike that does not want to move very far. Paternostering is often treated as a 'sit and wait' tactic. Not in my book. As ever, it needs to be worked at!