Riege: Getting hooked on perch

Published 5:51 pm Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Probably one of the most overlooked fish is the perch. Most of the time people look at these fish as bait stealing, pesky, nuisance fish that cause much more trouble than they are worth. Many people even will discard them as rough fish and use them as fertilizer in their gardens.

In some locations the perch is the best fish to catch. People who live in the Lake Michigan or Lake Erie areas have always viewed the perch as the prime fish to catch, even when salmon and walleye numbers are at an all time high. You can visit local cafes where perch adorn the walls rather than trophy musky or walleyes. Here in Minnesota the perch seems to be one of the most sought after fish when ice covers most of the lakes. In fact, ice fishing season gives most anglers a chance to get out and tie into some of the Jumbo perch.

When looking for a productive perch lake, I usually look for a lake that is large. It seems that in order to grow the Jumbo perch you need a lot of water. For example, Mille Lacs Lake in Central Minnesota is perfect for these dandy Jumbo perch. Also lakes like Devils Lake in North Dakota are great because the large lakes are not subject to fishing pressure and anglers will not really hurt this prolific fish.

Email newsletter signup

These fish are so prolific that on a normal large lake anglers probably won’t make a dent in their population.

Crappie minnows fished near the bottom provide some of the finest mid-winter perch fishing to be found anywhere. On good days, fish from 11 to 13 inches can be caught two at a time, as fast as the angler can get rebaited and back to the bottom.

The typical “perch rig” two No. 6 snelled hooks attached to the line 8 and 16 inches above a 1/2 ounce bell sinker, works well. Some anglers use tiny spinner blades and beads on their hooks to serve as additional attractors. Hooking a crappie minnow either through the lips or behind the dorsal fin works equally as well. The perch aren’t fussy sometimes striking bare hooks. Light spinning tackle and 8# test Tournament Strength line completes the tackle required to catch these delicious denizens.

The method I prefer is to use using a number three Jigging Rapala tipped with a crappie minnow head. Or I might also use the Jigging Rapala tipped with Eurolarvae on both ends of the hooks.

On days when fishing is tougher I will use a Northland Fire-Eye jig tipped with a waxworm or the Eurolarvae. The Eurolarvae tend to be a little tougher than waxies and will stay on the hook better. This combination is dynamite especially when it is dangled right in front of a non-aggressive perch.

Winter perch are also affected by cold front conditions. When the weather on the surface of the lake is poor or very cold you will notice a decline in fish activity. You really need to time your fishing trips to avoid these conditions if at all possible. But, of all the fish that are taken during the winter months you will have the most luck with the perch. It seems no matter what you can usually get a few to bite.

Picture if you will a remote lake, and grease popping in the frying pan, heated from below by an armload of wood gathered near the campsite. One by one the fillets are rolled in Goose Antler Lodge Lemon

Dill mix, set adrift in the hot oil and turned when their edges turn golden brown. When each fillet is done it is transferred to a paper towel on a tin plate and, when excess oil is drained away, quickly shifted to a plate. I know that I am definitely hooked on perch. I hope that you have reconsidered your attitude about perch and possibly you to will be hooked on perch.