Pounding for Perch
Jumbo perch can be a very challenging, yet rewarding fish species to target during the cold winter months. Not only are they a blast to catch, keeping you entertained for hours, but they make for a tasty meal at the end of a long hard day on the ice. Keeping things simple is the key to enjoying a bent rod and a delicious shore lunch.
Where to start is always the challenge. I always like to hit my “usual” marked GPS spots but even I get caught up in over thinking perch and their habits. During the early winter months, I will begin by targeting depths of around 10-15 feet in areas that have an abundance of aquatic plant life. Perch love hanging around weeds during the early winter months because they produce small organisms that they tend to feed on, like nymphs or freshwater shrimp. If you find plant life, you will typically find some feisty perch.
Exist To Fish Canada team member and Lake Simcoe local Colin Booth has a similar take on prospecting for perch. He explains “I look for weed/sand transitions. I like to sight fish when perch are holding in shallow water (10-15ft deep) which is like picking through the bad apples to find the one you want” He continues “As they pull into deeper water, a good sonar is key to locating schools on prime locations”.
As the winter season progresses and fishing pressure increases, I typically move to deeper sand flats, in and around the 30 to 40ft depth range. The key when fishing the deeper areas is to move around or “run and gun” with the goal of being a step ahead of the schools. I will give it around 20 minutes of pounding bottom, then, if I don’t see any activity on my sonar I will make a move to another area. When moving around in the deeper areas, I usually don’t move too far to find the school, at times only moving 50 to 100 yards at a time.
Tactics & Lure Selection
I mentioned earlier about pounding bottom, as this method has been key to my success out there, especially during those slower days. This technique of “pounding” entails tying a heavy weight and an old spoon onto to 50 pound braided line. Have I gone crazy? Not yet, just bear with me. When I get to a typical high percentage spot and the sonar is blank, I put my “perch pounder” down and you guessed it, I pound the bottom with it. This will create a cloud of sand and vivid vibrations through the water which will catch the attention of every fish in the general vicinity. Let’s face it, when you are laying on the couch, watching TV and you hear a loud noise outside of your house what do you do? You get up and try to find out where that noise came from and fish are no different, especially perch.
Keep in mind, you can make one of these “perch pounder” rigs with whatever you have available, there is no right or wrong way to make a perch pounder. The key is to ultimately get their attention thus calling them into the real estate below your feet.
Once I get their attention, it’s game on. This is when I show them my go-to presentation which is a drop shot rig, but instead of having the weight on the bottom, I use a small spoon like a slab grabber or buckshot spoon as the weight. And about 15 inches above that, a small hook with a bait of choice such as live minnows, maggots, small plastics or anything that matches a particular lakes forage.
Colin Booth has a very similar take on this. “I’ll use a flashy spoon to call them in, and when they show up I will work through my tackle box and try to nail down the right presentation. Small spoons, plastics or jigging style baits all have a time and place”.
Here’s a neat little trick Jamie Wilson (Exist To Fish lead writer) spoke of for live bait, particularly minnows. “If a treble hooked spoon or jigging style bait is your thing, try replacing the split ring with a tiny snap swivel. Then simply thread the head of the minnow onto the hook shank, snap the hook back into place and voila, you have a long lasting live bait rig”.
Exist To Fish Canada team member, and professional guide Aaron Jolicoeur subscribes to the idea of heavier weighted presentations for perch. He explains “Heavy-weighted baits are crucial as it
gives you the ability to quickly drop down to fish roaming below”. He continues “sonar with good target separation helps you to target the bigger perch in the school. Also, the more fish you keep under the hole, the better as this will attract numbers of larger, territorially competitive fish”.
An ultra-light spinning combo spooled with 6 pound braided line coupled with a 4 pound fluorocarbon leader will always get the job done. This set-up will have the sensitivity and feel to detect the lightest of bites which is very important. When using soft plastics, scent provides a distinct advantage through the realism of a scent trail and a blast of taste and the perception of a slime coat. Liquid Mayhem “Garlic Minnow” gets top honors here for sure as fish seem to hold on longer and often just try to swallow the bait whole.
So no matter where you are in this great white north that we live in, go pounding for some perch. Dial in the right presentation and have a blast putting some juicy jumbo perch topside.
Have fun and play it safe on the ice everybody!