Do you love big bluegill?
Perca Flavescens, Yellow Perch ,named for the yellowish coloring they display .But one can think of them as Flavor -scens ,because they are a great tasting panfish. These striking looking fish, are very plentiful in many New Jersey lakes as well as elsewhere in the country. Within they're natural range , they are often the most consistent cold water period fish to be caught .With perhaps the summer months being the most difficult time to find them, they are a 12 month of the year food fish.If there are Walleye in the same lake the 'Eyes' should not be far off this favorite food source.
Yellow Perch are notorious for feeding down ,so on or close to bottom is a great place to start .Working the water column from top to bottom while jiggling and raising the rod tip sometimes results in catches at all depths. I've seen it work that way on shallow flats dropping into a creek channel at 6-12 feet in my home lake. White Perch as well as yellows can be picked off slow trolling over or to the sides of the creek channel in the cold water periods of early Spring and late fall. When you find a hotspot that has them bunched up try for numbers by jigging.16th oz. When fishing from shore Marabou Jigs un tipped once the water gets 64 degrees equals Yellow and White Perch .The retrieve that triggers sometimes is a slow steady reeling with rod tip jiggles and occasional pauses.Often however ,whatever the season , a faster presentation targets a White Perch bite and a slower approach gets the Yellows . White Perch have rough scales like a Yellow Perch but are actually Bass family members. They are often found and caught in numbers ,feeding competitively together with Yellows. It's as if they are working together as allies! In some Northeast waters ,both Yellow and White Perch are regularly the first fish to be seen in the shallow coves and shorelines shortly after iceout. I have found that a water pipe inlet or stream, that's flowing nicely ,is a magnet for both Yellow and White Perch .After warm rains ,scores of Perch, as well as other panfish ,can be caught .The action can last as long as the weather is stable and the water is flowing well .If the water is not flowing as much you may have to use long casts from shore to get out to where the fish may have dropped back to . I prefer getting in the boat and fishing away from shore on flats adjacent to where the stream bed reaches out further from shore . You can relocate those fish that seemed to have disappeared .
In summer ,drifting a crawler piece on or near bottom through basin areas can be the ticket for BIG Yellows! Anchoring next to a hole off a steep bank and fishing a bait tipped spoon on or near bottom is a choice for summer White and Yellow Perch. Often working the spoon a little quicker selects the White Perch from the Yellows. These summer tactics continue to work well approaching the mid- fall period.During early Summer thru early fall, trolling #2 - #4 spinners and 1/8th, 1/4 oz. or heavier cranks near mid lake humps and dropoffs when the wind is up works well for White and Yellow Perch. Rebel Wee R Crawfish and Bomber 4 F cranks produce well. Slow down if you're missing fish and you may start catching them on the rear hook of the crankbait making it easier to release an unharmed fish. After contacting Perch while trolling ,drifting and casting baited jigs or spoons over the same area can be employed to catch some other perhaps less active but bigger fish. Drag your lure and baits close to or on the bottom lifting /dropping/dragging till you make contact again.Try to notice exactly when the fish hit to develop a refined presentation!
Early to mid fall is a great time for tandem swim jig rigs, and if the fish are bunching up and the bites hot this may be a quicker way to fill the stringer than the very effective slip float approach .One way to work a tandem rig is the slow steady swim with perhaps a few twitches of the rod tip now and again. A second alternative ,at times preferred by the fish ,is more of a drop, lift, drop, drag bottom retrieve ,the way you might work a single jig or spoon. I prefer to work a single jig when fishing on or right near bottom unless theres not much danger of frequent hang ups.
When late fall approaches and arrives ,colder water may dictate the single jig approach, for better control. A very patient retrieve that may include more frequent and longer pauses on bottom can produce when you think the fish aren't there because your swimming approach isn't working . Perch will sometimes just pick it up off bottom and swim away so watch the line where it enters the water .
In late Fall, bank fishing with Slip or fix Floated jigs tipped with bait for Yellow Perch can be a Bonanza ! Rip Rap dam areas have produced many Yellow Perch in this period. Especially when the wind is pushing toward the bank you're fishing. Mussels, if you can find them on the shoreline, are a great tipping bait .Be careful breaking them open as the broken shell shards can cut the fingers like a sharp knife! Long Rods and long casts are necessary if fish are farther from the bank than casts from shorter rods can allow. Sometimes it's a very slow steady retreive that nails them and Crappies and Bluegills may want the same presentation. A twister Tail on a Squirrel Tail ,Buck tail , Feather or Marabou Jig works with this retrieve .If you tip with bait ,sometimes it's best to just pop the float and wait for a take.Crawler pieces or mealworms are baits of choice.A third presentation is to slowly sweep the rod forward a 1/2 a foot or so and let the jig or bait settle .Watch the float, sometimes it doesn't go down but it starts moving off .Keep reeling the line in and you find they're on . Jigs from 24th up to 1/8th oz. casts well with the proper sized float .As the weather gets colder use lighter jigs and if you still need more weight to cast put split shot up the line away from the hook .
Through the ice both Yellows and Whites ( and certainly Bluegills ) are very willing biters and the Rattlin Flyer spoon finds them as well as the jiggin Rapala! Tipping spoons with Perch Eyes are often taken by either Perch or Bluegills .Works great! Live shiners or fathead minnows on tip ups may be the ticket as Perch love a lively bait through the ice. It often happens that the Biggest Perch will eat a good sized Shiner on a tip up . However ,save your dead shiners bring them home and salt them .Next time out put a shiner head or tail section on a jiggin' spoon and work it for Perch and Crappie .I always look out for dead shiners on the ice ,left by tip up fisherman leaving the ice .I save them to use on spoons and catch Crappie this way but Perch can be caught this way as well. Yellow Perch can be found on a somewhat sandy sparsely weeded and level bottom on my home lake at 12-15' summer and winter.Spring catches are usually found in a shallower cove or spawn area near inlets on the same lake . I do believe Yellow and White Perch relate closely to flowing water either coming into a lake or stream beds under the lake surface .Fishing close to bottom under these circumstances has been my target areas for Perch numbers.They are allies as I see it and if you want Whites speed up ,yellows ,slow down .Either way good chance you'll catch food fish as they are both schoolers !
Thanks for your input Howard! I'll have to check with the local tackle shop and see if they carry maggotts.
I have used perch eyes on the end of a jigging spoon before and recall catching Crappie and Yellow Perch .The cannibals!
Yes Howard Maggotts(Spikes) are a great bait for ice fishing!Been doing it this year more than years past.Do you use them at other times of the year also?
Last time out I used dead minnows I salted for the first time .I pinched off the heads on some good sized minnows and tipped 1/4 oz. Rattlin Flash Spoons and Kastmasters .They really turned on the Crappie.A few Yellow perch were taken this way too. What to do with the lower half I've got to fiqure out .It seems the head half stays on the jig hook better when hooked under the chin through the top of the head on a 1/8th oz. Kastmaster or 1/8oz. Rattlin' Flash spoon. A 10-12" Crappie will take a good sized shinner head on those spoons . Great way to catch fish !
how about fall perch? In lakes and rivers where do I look for them?
Don't know about your lake but the late summer pattern mentioned above usually proceeds to the basin area nearby this hump I've been fishing close to as Fall develops . Also steep banks should be the ticket for numbers .I would be inclined to eliminate long shallow flats and concentrate on mid lake humps and the deeper water nearby and deeper holes near inlets and outlets.On the tougher days drifting slowly through basin areas with live bait while using a driftsock has woked in late Fall (early December)for me.
Hope this is useful to you Charlie .Drop Jim Gronaw a line with the same question. He is a great guy full of fishing info and can help you better than me.Let me know how you do and post pics !
Thanks John for the feedback. I have my minnow trap in the river right now and hope to do some fishing soon. We have a big storm headed our way today so that may screw fishing up for a few days. How do perch react to cold fronts do you know? OR can they still be caught by moving deeper and fishing slower?
Also do you know if perch drop down stream to winter in the basin or can they be found in holes in the river upstream?