Pre-Ice PerchBy Dave Duwe - November 1, 2008
The perch begin to school up in late September through the winter months. The great thing about perch in fall is that they are located in some of the shallowest water that they will live in all year. A typical depth range that I have found is 6-10 ft of water. Perch prefer hard sand bottoms with scattered weeds. The fish don't seem to like the real weedy locations. Once you find the right spot the schools of perch can be huge. I have had customers catch in excess of 2-300 fish in a matter of four or five hours. The lake that I have the greatest success on is Lake Geneva in Southeastern Wisconsin. The typical size of the fish is five to six inches however with some sorting I will usually keep 15-20 of the 9-11 inch fish. Yellow perch aren't like other fish that school in like sizes. I have caught a 12 inch perch moments after reeling in a 4 inch fish from the same location.
The equipment I use isn't anything special. Your basic 6 ft ultra light fishing pole with a small reel spooled with 4-6 lb Silver Thread line will do the trick. I will always fish a slip bobber rig for perch. With the presentation, I will have a Bait Rigs Panfish Cobra, an Arkie 1/32 oz lead head jig or a single hook. The color of the jig isn't that critical but I prefer a chartreuse or orange. I will tip the hook with a wax worm or small fat head minnow. I like to position the bait approximately 1-2 ft off bottom.
Fishing in November can be miserable with the cold temperatures and winds, sometimes lots of winds. With that in mind, I will always anchor my boat. I use a 28 lb anchor to insure a solid hook-up which will prevent drifting and boat sway. Being in a stable position tends to make bobber fishing a whole lot easier.
Once the boat is positioned in a likely location I will fan cast 360 degrees around the boat to check for fish activity. I will not fish any one area very long. They will usually bite immediately if they are there, if not, I will raise anchor and move on to more active fish.
Yes, fishing in the fall can be a bit cold, but the numbers of fish that can be caught can make the trips worth it. On a fairly warm day, it may be a great time to take a youngster out for some perch action.