We’re losing ice fast, but we have time to talk an underfished species: late ice perch. So many readers demand locations for these fish, there are just too many variables to talk specific locations. Weather, ice conditions, runoff, noise and food sources all affect where these fish will be.
Know that yellow perch are roamers, so my default for identifying their locations is food sources. Mud or transition areas between bottom substrates can be good. They’re in search of food. This time of year, perch often will have the feedbag on and will react to attraction or vibration in the water.
For fish in a neutral or positive feeding mode, try vertical jigging spoons. Switch out colors, sizes, and flash. Also try plain leadhead jigs and work with colors in 1/32 or 1/16 ounces.
You’ll find me using 4- to 6-pound test line over late ice. Then I’ll use a whole minnow or minnow head. (The latter is very productive.) Truth be told, this is a lot like ice walleye fishing, which shouldn’t be a shock since both species are in the perch family.
In a tougher bite, try a bobber, bead and hook. This is where we’ll use a fathead. These are perch that will be 10 inches or larger. Not small perch!
I hear a lot about waxworms for perch, and that’s fine but I find myself usually catching smaller fish under these circumstances. Use your electronics like a camera or Vexilar to avoid the smaller fish. Watch those red bands, and pull your lure up slightly and away so you’re not be pestered by small ones and you can concentrate on big fish. Small fish are bait stealers!
Perch are roaming so you should, too. Don’t be stationary. Get a starting point, and when fishing an unfamiliar lake, drill a couple holes before you mark fish. Some of the “move, move, move” advice goes over the top, but just don’t die over an unproductive hole.
Still want some locations advice? Try mud areas where insect and larvae hatches usually are kicking off by mid-March. A sand gravel mixture is another bottom content where I see perch, especially at the edge of a mud flat. Then work your lure or live bait a foot or two off bottom. Cold-water perch are delectable and biting right now!
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