The real secret to catching more fish is knowledge! The more you know, the more fish you’ll catch. These Perch ice fishing tips and techniques are proven winners.
Perch are one of the most sought after ice fishing species. They’re found in many lakes and are definitely one of the best tasting fish around.
If you want to catch more Perch the two most important keys are locationand presentation. You could have the most appealing bait in the world but if there aren’t any fish around it’s going to be a looong day. And, not catching a thing while everyone else around you is catching fish can be really frustrating. What you present to the fish is just as important as finding them.
The information found here is best used along with some investigative work done by you. Finding out what the Department of Natural Resources says about a lake and talking to local anglers, especially at the bait shop, can save you a ton of time finding the fish and knowing what they’re biting on.
Perch can be ice fished at any hour of the day but changing light conditions in the morning and evening usually triggers more activity and feeding.
Perch Ice Fishing Location
Winter gives ice fisherman an advantage for catching Perch over summer fishing since in the summer they’re more spread out and more difficult to find. In the winter they tend to school up more often and suspend over deep water.
Perch can be found suspended like Sunfish and Crappie or close to the bottom like their cousin the Walleye. When they’re hungry they’ll usually be close to the bottom though.
In early winter Perch can be found in the same places they were just prior to ice up. Look for them in shallow weeds and just off the weed line. Especially when the weeds are combined with shoreline breaks and points. Click here to learn about fish attracting lake structure.
By mid winter the Perch will have moved off the structure, usually to the nearest deep basin. Start by looking for them suspended in the basin near the structure and at the same depth of the structure. Perch follow food so as the zooplankton and minnows move, so do the Perch.
Late winter they’ll begin to move in closer to the bays and weedlines. Perch spawn in shallow, dark bottom bays after the ice is out. You’ll find them moving closer to these spawing areas as spring approaches.
Before we switch gears and talk about presentation, remember locating Perch is only half the battle. Don’t just drill one hole. Instead drill several holes and find the fish.
Using modern electronics can also help you find fish faster. Depth, fish and structure can all be seen using a flasher (Vexilar or Marcum).
Perch Ice Fishing Presentation
OK, you’ve found the Perch, now let’s look at some effective techniques to get them on the ice!
The most effective ice fishing presentation is jigging. Jigging is basically raising your rod tip about a foot, then dropping it back down to its starting position.
A very effective method is to raise and drop the tip, wait 5-10 seconds and repeat the raise/drop.
Another jigging technique made popular by the pro ice fisherman Dave Genz is pounding the jig. Pounding a jig is basically jiggling your rod tip up and down just an inch or two very quickly.
If you’re not using a flasher and have no idea what depth the fish are at, start by jigging near the bottom. If you don’t find fish, come up a foot or two. Continue the process until you either find fish or reach the ice with your lure.
Now that you’ve got the hang of jigging, lets look at the lure/bait you’re using. There are several jigs that have proved effective over time. Be willing to experiment with any of the jigs pictured below.
Perch like a lot of the same jigs you’d use for Walleye. The only difference is you’d use a smaller version.
Flash spoons, or vertical spoons, like the Swedish Pimple and Acme Kastmaster, are a couple of my favorite Perch spoons. They are easily identified by their vertical fishing position and a treble hook on the bottom. Spoons are great for moderately active fish. Put a minnow head on one of the hooks and you’ve got a dangerous combination.
Horizontal Jigs are effective when the Perch are fussy.
Pink Jighead with White Twistertail
System Tackle Genz Worm
JB Lures Hot Head
Swimming lures include the Nils Master Jigger and Jigging Rapala. These can be effective on aggressive Perch.
Nils Master Jigger
Rapala Jigging Rap
Using live bait is important to trigger a bite. Tipp your jig with either a live minnow, minnow head, or a grub.
In most places while ice fishing you’re allowed more than one rod. I usually set up a second rod with a float (bobber) and a lively minnow on a hook or a jig while ice fishing for Perch.
Hopefully you’ve found something new to try in these Perch ice fishing tips and techniques that will help you ice more fish.
What most people consider luck is usually a combination of preparation and practice so get out there and enjoy the practice!