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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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What About Perch?

We fishermen talk a lot about catching all kinds of fish including trout, bass, walleyes, crappies, bluegills and even catfish but we don’t often hear of anyone going out to specifically target yellow perch. Like a lot of other lake fishermen who pursue panfish, we will catch our share of perch while chasing after other

We fishermen talk a lot about catching all kinds of fish including trout, bass, walleyes, crappies, bluegills and even catfish but we don’t often hear of anyone going out to specifically target yellow perch. Like a lot of other lake fishermen who pursue panfish, we will catch our share of perch while chasing after other fish but that’s seldom the species we set out to catch. Don’t get me wrong, while not targeting that fish we are more than happy to add some to our live well knowing that it is probably the tastiest fish swimming in the lake ranked right up there with walleyes. It’s not that perch are known as great fighters either but once hooked their high ratings on a dinner plate more than make up for their fighting qualities.

Perch, like a lot of other panfish species, generally don’t reach large sizes and fish in the nine or ten inches and up bracket are just fine for filleting. Perch in most of our lakes will usually be under the one-foot mark, and in fact, a twelve incher is considered a pretty nice fish. On occasion and in some lakes we will catch a 13 or 14 incher – real trophies around these parts. That being said if you are willing to travel to Lake Erie those larger perch are more the rule rather than the exception.

To be honest, I think finding perch can often be more difficult than catching them. Like most fish, they will move to shallower water to spawn in the spring but even then don’t expect to find many in three or four feet of water. Perch spend their summers in deeper water often times hugging the bottom, but they can also often be suspended over deep water making them hard to locate. A depth finder is a great aid in finding perch or any other species for that matter. Perch often school according to size so if you’re catching a lot of undersized perch you may want to relocate and probe within inches of the bottom. As fall approaches there may be some movement to shallower water-say eight to ten feet near a drop-off or near sparse weed edges, but they move back to deeper water as the temperature drops. We take a lot of perch during the ice-fishing season, and we are usually targeting fish in the 15-30 foot depths, but the fact is most of our lakes seldom exceed those depths.

If you want to be consistent with your perch catching, you should gear up specifically for perch. Perch have relatively small mouths compared to say crappies, so smaller lures and baits are in order. Smaller lures and baits should be matched to the right fishing outfit-preferably an ultralight open-face spinning outfit with no more than four-pound test monofilament line. More often than not you will likely be fishing for suspended or bottom hugging fish so a slip bobber might be an excellent choice to suspend your bait at the desired depth. I will also fish without a bobber on a tight line so that I can feel the often-subtle strikes of a perch even in 30 feet of water.

Remember, keep your presentations small enough; eighth-ounce lead-head jigs or even small ice-fishing jigs tipped with a piece of worm, meal worm or wax worm work well. Perch are minnow eaters but try to keep them under two inches in length unless you happen to be fishing for some jumbo perch. Small spinnerbaits, minnow-type lures in small sizes, small spoons and spinners are good for casting or even trolling.

Trust me-perch are fun to catch but sitting down to a plate full of freshly fried perch fillets makes the catching even more fun.

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