Perch is among the most highly sought after fish species of table fare in the United States, and for good reason. Rivaled only by walleye, perch is noted for its lean and flaky flesh.
Unlike fish that spend much of their lives in warmer waters, especially in winter perch maintain a high quality of meat that is a target for anglers all over the colder parts of the country. When perch are present, catching them is a simple task after sorting through a few variables that increase the angler’s odds.
Rods and Reels
Even “jumbo” perch typically come in at only 12 to 14 inches, so ultra light gear is more than adequate for the fight. Six-pound test line is enough to reel one in, though some anglers opt for anywhere from four to 10-pound test. Lighter line will help to telegraph a strike, while heavier line provides insurance in case a larger gamefish finds the bait.
In waters shared with trout and salmon species, a stray hit from a 10+ pound fish should always be considered a possibility. In urban environments where the shoreline is a wall, such as harbors and slips, a long rod offers a wider radius to drop a line straight down. Many shore perch anglers even use 12-to-14-foot crappie rods like those made by B’n’M Fishing.
Light jigs with curly tails or jigging spoons can be effective with perch, but more often anglers will consult their local bait shop to find the particular minnows that are producing results.
Perch or crappie rigs are the top choice, especially when fishing vertically. With a weight at the bottom, two minnows hang from offset hooks a few feet up the line. This allows for strikes from fish in slightly different levels of the water column. The store-bought wire variety are ideal, but may anglers use a D.I.Y. approach with a swivel, weight and two hooks and knots tied up the line. A homemade rig allows you to choose the depth of hook placement, too.
While perch fishing might not be the adrenaline-producing experience that comes with game fishing, a nice treat from time to time comes in the form of a double, the result of one perch chasing the second minnow as an already hooked perch is reeled in. In clear waters, you can watch this happen from several feet down. Long nets are good to have on hand, particularly when the the distance from the shore down to water is several feet.
Yellow perch are best prepared in filets, sauteed or deep fried. A limit can be easy to hit quickly on days when the local fish population gathers at the shore.