Summer Panfish Tips: Perch

Targeting fish during the summer is a lot different than the spring, and panfish are no exception. During the spring fish are spawning, and the patterns and predictable behavior they display at this time enables anglers to plan their attacks. Once summer hits, though, anglers need to pull some tricks out of their sleeves and really dig deep for patience and determination. With panfish—perch, crappie, and bluegill, to be specific—fishermen will need to be a bit more aggressive than usual throughout the summer, and today I’ve provided you with a few tips on how to do so when angling for perch during the warm months.

During the late summer months, perch tend to hold in open water near the edges of weedbeds. Lakes with large amounts of milfoil, coontail, or thick cabbage that grow to just below the surface are ideal. Try to find vegetation that possesses a few defining features, such as deep pockets or parts that jut out into open water.

When seeking out perch in such locations, it’s best to use baits that cover water fast, and in this case, it’s hard to beat small hard jerkbaits. Smaller versions of Rapala’s X-Rap or Yo-Zuri minnows are great for finding and catching perch, as their aggressive action and fast retrieves both attract strikes and comb the water quickly. Cast these beauties anywhere from 20 feet out from the edge of the weeds to right up to the edge. Give the rod downward twitches during the retrieve—this causes the bait to jerk side to side. Also, pause for a few seconds during the retrieve to allow the jerkbait to suspend or slowly ascend, as perch will often strike while the bait is idle.

Perch are also notorious for following a bait to the boat, so be sure to keep an eye on your lure all the way back to the boat. If the retrieve is too fast, curious and reluctant fish will tend to follow, which is a signal that you might need to slow down a bit. Experiment when you find an ideal location until you find what works and watch the livewell fill up.

Late summer can get a little tricky, especially when it comes to panfish like perch, but once you locate where the fish are, you’ll be in good shape. Perch require a bit of an aggressive approach, which makes small hard jerkbaits the go-to in this situation. Tie a few on and hit the weedbeds and I guarantee you’ll be in business in no time!