Fall Perch Fishing Tips
By: Mark Romanack
Friend of the show, Rob Jones, aka The Deacon Smash Master knows the value of yellow perch. While perch are small in size, they can often be found in large numbers and nothing tastes better in a fish fry than some fresh yellow bellies.
When it comes to hours spent on the water, few species of fish get more attention than the common yellow perch. Perch make up for what they lack in size in table fare. It seems everyone is interested in catching a few perch to star in their next fish fry.
ABOUT YELLOW PERCH
Yellow perch are members of the Percidae family. Found throughout the Great Lakes region, perch thrive in a wide variety of habitats including natural lakes, rivers and also the vast waters of the Great Lakes.
Perch are perhaps best known for traveling in big schools and also for their wandering nature. Like all fish, yellow perch are prisoners to their food sources. As a result, perch wander constantly in search of preferred forage species including emerald shiner minnows, young of the year crayfish and aquatic insects such as mayfly larva.
During the fall of the year minnows and crayfish make up the majority of the yellow perch diet. In the late fall and throughout the winter when crayfish hibernate and become scarce, perch spend more time targeting minnows and also aquatic insects that burrow into soft bottom areas. In many lakes by late winter and early spring, perch are feeding almost exclusively on aquatic insects.
Perch rigs that feature two or more hooks on short droppers (check your state regulations) and a bell sinker to get the rig to bottom produce the majority of the perch taken annually. For many years the White River Tackle Company has produced the “Perch Pounder” rigs that all others are compared to. Perch Pounders feature hooks dressed with processed fish skin and tinsel, colored hooks, premium fluorocarbon leader material and quality hardware. Available in size 8, 6 and 4 hooks in a host of colors, a good assortment of Perch Pounders should be in every angler’s tackle box.
Perch rigs can be baited with live minnows, preserved minnows, crayfish, chunks of fresh shrimp, wigglers (mayfly larva), wax worms, leaf worms or pieces of nightcrawler. All of these baits have a time and place in perch fishing. In the fall of the year, minnows are routinely the bait of choice.
When the yellow perch bite is on, you can expect to share the water with a few other boats. Everyone enjoys a fish fry and no fish is better on the table than yellow perch.
RUN AND GUN
The most successful perch fishermen all have one thing in common, they are not afraid to move, move again and move some more in search of the best perch fishing grounds. Back in the day when boats were anchored the old fashioned way with rope and anchor, it took a lot of effort to stay on a good perch bite.
These days the auto-pilot electric motor makes perch fishing a much easier and more enjoyable experience. Simply idle around slowly using your electronics to locate fish. When a school is located, deploy the electric motor and hit the “anchor” or “spot lock” feature to hover the boat in place. As the school moves, use the electric motor to move the boat and relocate the school, anchor or spot lock and repeat.
A number of manufacturers produce electric motors that offer these GPS navigation features. At Fishing 411 TV we have been using the Lowrance Ghost electric motor for several years now. The Ghost is a exceptionally durable electric motor that can be operated via a Lowrance touch screen sonar unit with a technology known as Gateway, by using the supplied foot control or a key fob.
The advent of the auto-pilot GPS guided electric motor has changed perch fishing forever. Now instead of having to use conventional anchors, the touch of a button and your electric motor will hover in place.
Quality sonar is also critical to perch fishing success. Perch are often found in deep water and over soft bottom areas. Identifying perch in these situations requires a sonar unit with plenty of power and also a high resolution viewing screen.
The Lowrance HDS Live units have served us well for years. For those who are looking for sonar that’s more affordable, the Lowrance Elite FS units are hard to beat. Not only do these units feature outstanding broad beam sonar capability, the Elite FS also accommodates side-imaging and Active Target forward viewing technology.
Everyone has an opinion about what makes the ideal perch rod. At Fishing 411 TV we strongly believe the best perch rods are light or ultra light actions that make it easier to detect light bites. Ultra light rods also make reeling in modest fish like yellow perch down right fun.
The Daiwa Presso Ultralight rods have been our perch and panfish “go to” sticks for a lot of years. Available in spinning lengths from four foot to 11 foot, our favorite model is hands down the PSO802ULFS and eight foot two piece rod that is lightweight, but has plenty of backbone to handle double headers with jumbo perch, slab crappie, bull nosed bluegill and other panfish species. The Daiwa Laguna LT 1000 and 2000 spinning reel models are a perfect match for the Presso rods. We recommend spooling on 80 to 100 yards of an eight carrier braid such as Daiwa Braid 8 in the high visibility yellow color.
GET OUT AND GET OUT OFTEN
The best advice we can give anyone interested in catching perch is to get out and get out often. Perch are the ideal species for family fishing outings. There is something special about perch fishing with family and friends. That special experience just gets better when a fish fry comes as a bonus.