By: Tyler Dunn Tyler Dunn Guiding
Perch can be a funny bunch. Doesn’t it seem like you catch more of them when targeting other species instead of when you’re actually fishing for perch? Most of the time when I am actually targeting yellow perch, I will routinely put in a full day on the ice punching dozens of holes searching for signs of a school. It is actually quite the accomplishment to consistently catch perch throughout the entire winter season. One, I haven’t yet mastered. The following tips are for techniques I used successfully when I’m trying to master winter perch on Lake Superior and the bays of Lake George.
Deep Basin Perch
Some of the finest perch fishing of the year can be had on the deep basin portions of a body of water. Usually during first ice and into mid-winter perch can be found in depths of 60-80Perch Fishing feet in many lakes. This is where your power auger is going to be a key ingredient for having a successful day on the ice. Covering as much water as you can until you land on top of them is definitely the most efficient way to tackle deep basin perch. Once you do find a school of perch your next challenge is going to be getting down to the strike zone. The quicker you get down to the fish the better. The time it will take for your lure to hit bottom cuts into your catch rate. You can definitely still use the same lures but most of the time on Superior where I fish, I can bump up one size of Jigging Rapala and get it down to the bottom much faster. I love swimming lures but I especially like them for deep water perch. Perch is my favourite pattern with fluorescent orange a close second. I jig aggressively while keeping a close eye on my flasher trying to call in perch from a distance. Once I mark fish or several fish, I will continue to jig but with longer pauses. Trying to get perch to rise off the bottom is actually the most difficult task. Once they do a strike will usually soon follow.
Perch moving from deep to shallow water are what I like to call transition perch. Simply, they are making the transition from deep to shallow. There is a spot I like to fish, late in the season. It is located directly in front of a large weedy bay. I know that perch use this bay to spawn and I try to cross paths with them moving from the deep water, in. These perch don’t stick around for very long period of time. A run and gun technique can either be a good or really bad choice. Since the late season has much warmer weather, I don’t mind moving around. If I find a spot that is getting consistent flurries of fish every half hour or so, I will set-up shop and wait for the schools as they pass through.
Although, I do catch perch in the weeds throughout the entire winter, most of my success will comes during the mid-late ice season. 15 feet and shallower is where I like to probe the weed patches for perch. During mid-winter, I can still find some nice, green weeds but into the last month of the season this often changes. The general rule is green is good and brown is bad. Small spoons like forage minnows have a long, narrow profile and great action for lightly jigging up these weed perch. Small plastics such as micro tube jigs and bug imitations are also a good choice when targeting fish in weeds. On the other hand, sand patches found in weed beds or even near clusters of weeds offer a great spot for perch to stalk and ambush unsuspecting prey. If you’re using a flasher, you will notice that most of the fish that come into view are aggressive and anxious to hit your bait. They don’t need much, if anything to entice a strike. These spots will also give you the opportunity to use swimming bait, like a Jigging Rapala which is my absolute favourite all around winter perch lure.