Finding Time for Jumbo Perch
It seems like I am always searching for time to participate in things I like to do. Schedules and deadlines have a way of creeping into the mix and forcing me to backburner some of my favorite activities. The day-to-day events we call life forces us all to compromise and prioritize.
When it comes to putting things in order of importance, I have gradually been moving perch fishing higher up on the list. It isn’t that I haven’t always enjoyed chasing perch, it just seems like it is more fun than it used to be.
I am not the only one that feels this way about the lowly perch. It doesn’t seem to matter where you go or who you talk to, perch fishing questions and comments always seem to surface.
One of the reasons perch are becoming more popular has to do with their eating habits. They are usually daytime biters and can be caught on a variety of gear. They are also scrappy fighters for their size.
Perch are excellent table fare. Although their tough scales make them more difficult to clean than other fish, their taste and texture on the plate is hard to beat.
Perch limits are also quite generous. In Minnesota, the limit is 20 a day with 40 in possession.
Finding a lake to chase perch on is not very hard. Most big-water walleye lakes have a healthy population of jumbos. Perch activity is a normal part of the reporting process for websites.
My favorite perch lake is Mille Lacs, located in Central Minnesota. This 132,000 acre body of water is home to a very healthy population of jumbo perch and is definitely becoming one of the premier perch waters in the area.
I have to admit that I cheat just a little when I head to the big water. In an effort to get the latest information about the perch bite, I check in with Mike Christensen from Hunter Winfield’s Resort in Isle.
As part of his ownership responsibilities, Christensen guides winter anglers for both walleye and perch. Since he is on the ice every day, I can get a pretty accurate report about where to go and what to use.
Although Christensen’s clients catch perch all winter long, he believes the best action starts to set up after the first late winter thaw. This thaw triggers an insect larvae feeding binge that starts the spring migration to spawning grounds.
From my experience, the bite can range from incredible to fussy. When the fish are fussy, I have found that neutral colored jigs, such as Woodtick Bro Bugs tipped with Euro larvae are hard to beat. Scaling down to two-pound-test Berkley Micro Ice can also make a difference.
In addition to presenting good looking baits, Christensen believes that bottom consistency is an important part of the equation. He feels transition areas where gravel turns to mud are ideal. He also emphasized the need to be mobile. Perch travel in large, loose schools and may have to be tracked down.
Winter jumbo perch fishing is high on my list of favorite activities. Although there are days when the bite can be challenging, there are also times when the action is nothing short of phenomenal.
Either way, I will prioritize several jumbo perch trips into my schedule this winter.
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