Perch Through the Ice, Part Two

buckshotWinter is here and ice fishing is happening wherever lakes are covered in ice thick enough for it. One of the most popular ice fishing targets is perch. These feisty fish tend to be found in schools, and can deliver nonstop action if you know where and how to fish them. Today we’ll take a look at some tips that will help you harvest your fair share of perch this winter and fill your freezer with tasty filets.

When it comes to deciding on lures for perch through the ice, you have several options. Many anglers keep a handful of search baits for when they need to quickly fish several holes to find roaming perch. A solid option in this category is the jigging spoon, such as Northland’s Buckshot, Blue Fox’s Rattle Flash, Swedish Pimples, Lindy’s Rattl’n Flyer. Spoons do a great job of attracting attention because they’re larger and offer plenty of vibration and flash in the water.  

Begin with your spoon a little less than half way between you and the bottom, aggressively jigging it. If that doesn’t work, try lowering the spoon all the way to the bottom, even banging it on the bottom a few times to stir things up. This creates a disturbance that mimics bottom-feeding perch and can actually attract other perch to join in the frenzy. If this doesn’t produce any fish after a few minutes, then you can move to another hole and repeat the process. This may take several moves and dozens of holes before you locate perch, but when you do find them, you’ll have no problem attracting bites.

Other good lures include hard baits, such as Rapala’s Jigging Shad Rap or Jigging Rap. Work them in a pattern of lift, fall, then hold, and be sure to give them plenty of time to glide downward and come to rest, in order to really take full advantage of their action. In fact, often times perch hit the bait once it’s still, so be ready for the strike. Don’t be afraid to mix it up by adding subtle twitches here and there, too.

Soft baits are another good option for perch. Small tubes are go-to lure for many perch anglers. Pair these with tube jig heads between 1/32 and 1/8 ounces, depending on how deep the water is. The spiral descent that tubes offer is hard to resist for perch.

There will be days when the perch are just fussy. When this happens, downsizing and using subtle jigging moves can often be the secret to catching them at the most finicky. A fan favorite finesse bait for perch is an ice jig, such as Lindy’s Little Joe Techni-Glo, tipped with a maggot or wax worm. Slowly lower the ice jig towards the bottom, using small hops and pauses to make it dance.

With these lures in mind, you’ll be well on your way to a full freezer of perch this winter. Hopefully the ice will hold for a little longer and you can take advantage of the ice action. Good luck to you all, and if you’re on the East Coast, our thoughts are with you, as well!