FISHING FOR PERCH!
By John A.
Vance, Environmental Eng.Tech.,
Outdoor Writer (member Outdoor Writers of Canada)
All of the information and
pictures/photos here is/are original, and is copyrighted by John
A. Vance, and may not be reproduced by any means without his
express written permission. For
'clubs' that wish to copy this and similar articles in their
newsletters ( for free), my name and web site must be mentioned,
but still must have written permission!
update – I now have audio cd's available for both open water
and ice fishing. Be far more efficient with your time –
learn while driving to work!
I also put on summer
workshops(courses) for those wishing to have a northern holiday
and learn while on holidays. Contact me for more info on either
the audio cds and titles/topics or workshops available for your
Perch, like other
panfish such as 'gill & crappie can be a real blast to ice
fish for! - Perch are some of the mildest flavored fish that
nature has to offer - especially when it's from ice cold water.
The flesh is white and flaky, and perch taken from ice cold water
doesn't have the muddy flavor it can have in the summer
months- what a bonus! Perch are a smaller
cousin of the much larger walleye, and are similarly a schooling
fish. If you get into an active school of feeding perch - they can
provide frantic and almost non-stop action for yourself and
others that are with you!
As you can see in this pic -
a mighty nice 'jumbo' perch!
WHERE'S THE PERCH?
As with any fish species - in any frozen water - a trip to the
local bait/tackle shop is a great source of info before hitting
the ice. Ice fishers will sometimes share their catch info and ANY
recent info you can find out at the bait/tackle shop will be
in-valuable and save you much time and effort - as long as it's
reliable and credible!
Generally though, perch will be in
water anywhere from ninety feet deep( usually larger lakes such as
the Great Lakes) to three feet deep, with my favored depth being
roughly twenty five to thirty-five feet. Smaller in-land
lakes will most often see them in considerably shallower water
than where we find them in the big lakes, and look for them from
18 to 25 feet deep in these smaller lakes. Perch do, but
rarely suspend as do walleye and crappie, and most often
the 'age old' method of 'go to the bottom, and up a foot'
rule of thumb of ice fishing applies here, for sure! Perch, like
most fish like to be around structure( if any exists), but in
larger lakes the structure may well be the water column itself. In
smaller water perch are more solitary and may not school
appreciably, as they do in mid sized and large water bodies.
In water that host beaver houses - fish out off the
beaver house ( being very careful of thin ice) in any water deeper
than ten feet deep and you should locate actively feeding perch.
This article is a great overview and with info here you should
easily be able to catch perch. If you enjoy perch fishing -
you will want more info to enable yourself to be even more
consistent at catching perch. My
"ICE FISHING BASICS" book will supply you
with pertinent info so you can find perch in almost any water,
anywhere. I urge you to purchase it - it'll save you time
and money and will easily pay for itself on the first couple of
ice fishing trips you make! It'll save you a LOT of grief - by
'doing it right' the first time instead of 'the trial and error'
method that'll leave you cold and fishless much of the time.
ICE JIGS & BAIT!
There are thousands of ice jigs suitable for ice fishing perch
- and most will catch fish. My own personal preference are several
that I've taken years to develop using my experience and
knowledge and education - the science is behind me - these are
not just 'a few more' ice jigs! I'm speaking of my
EXCLUSIVE 'glow on black' Ice Tick Jigs, Sunfish Jigs and Teeter
Totter Jigs. But make no mistake, the standard and common/popular
Tear Drop ice jigs, Genz Worms, Russian Hooks ...just to name a
few - all work well too! After my 'glow black'
coloration I prefer using chartreuse, hot pink, florescent
red and orange, and even florescent yellow for perch. If the
water is stained or stained badly ( as some smaller lakes/ponds
sometimes are), I use the chartreuse most of the time after
my glow black concept. The Glow On Black
concept can be seen further than most other colors - and draws in
fish from a good distance. information
on ordering Ice Tick Jigs, Teeter Totters and Sunfish Jigs!
Whatever jig (
info on using jigs) you use for perch, it should be
sufficiently heavy to quickly
get your bait back down to the
depth you are catching fish at!
This is mighty important - you
must keep the fish's interest up or they'll leave.
Having said that, I like jigs of about a size eight to ten ( hook
size) for perch, using the smaller jigs if they are neutral or
negative. I will use add-on weight if the jig isn't dropping back
into the 'kill zone' quickly enough, and like my slider weights
for this. If you need relatively heavy weights, then use a heavier
jig ( not a bigger hook, though) or use a small egg sinker - which
are inexpensive sinkers available at most tackle shops. If you are
'into' a lot of big perch - don't be afraid to go to a size six
hook - for ease of removing the hook more easily with your cold
For bait - a live minnow is SOMETIMES hard to beat -
especially for perch - but wax worms, maggots and mousy's are also
excellent - without all the mess of the water and big bucket
associated with minnows! Berkley GULP! baits can also prove to be
excellent - and I use them often. You'll have to check with your
DNR/MNR to see if live bait can be used in your area. If using
small maggots I'll use several of them bunched up on the hook. I
only use a perch eye which can be a good and tough bait - when
the HOT bite is on so I don't
have to waste time re-baiting due to a fragile bait coming off
almost every fish. Perch eyes as an attractor/bait by themselves
are only mediocre - and I'll
most often use one of these other baits and switch to a perch eye
when the fish move in and the HOT bite is on!
THINGS - just do it!
Finding perch can be grueling work - I'll easily often
drill up to fifty or more
holes to find 'em as perch move around a lot in search of food -
you will have to move around as
well. Of course the smaller the
water you're fishing - the easier they are to find, but most often
the best quality and size perch seem to consistently come from mid
sized and large water bodies. Smaller water bodies can see perch
more territorial than schooling. This means to take 'numbers' of
fish, you'll have to cover more water/shoreline area.
that bait in the water - a foot
above the bottom - and jig very( bordering on extremely) lightly -
perch don't want too much jigging
of the time. I like to gently
jig, then allow my bait to sit motionless for while before
starting to jig again. Again -
KEEP THAT BAIT in the water - once a school of perch is working
your bait/area YOU MUST hold their interest or they'll move on -
and fishing'll go dead!
basic info here will enable you to catch decent numbers of
perch - if you are really 'into' ice fishing and want more
information to be the best you can be at it - I'd urge you to
consider buying my book Ice
Fishing Basics where you'll find
information and explanations
of why we do what we do.
a LOT more info on Ice Fishing techniques, see blue side bar for
ice fishing JIGs - much "How To" info is found there!
'specialty' perch jigs - see product section - these are what I
use as a 'pro'
For now - BEST OF
LUCK! Do contact me for
more info - I'm here to help - it's what I do, now that I'm semi