Summer Perchin'

By Steve Ryan - August 1, 2009
Perch fishing is one of summer's simple pleasures. As a kid, I recall waiting all winter for the first warm days of summer to head down to the 'Lake' for some jumbos. A can of crawlers or a bucket full of minnows was all that you needed to catch a stringer of perch.

Lake Michigan's perch fishery has changed considerably over the last several decades but the methods for catching these tasty fish remains the same. Crappie spreaders, Lindy rigs, jigs and slip floats will catch you a limit of perch no matter where you fish. These rigs are nothing more than bait delivery systems designed to present live bait to fish in the most effective method possible. Baits for tipping these rigs vary depending on the water temperature. Minnows work best in cold water settings. Nightcrawlers become productive as waters warm beyond the mid-fifty degree mark, and softshell crawfish tend to shine whenever they are available.

When fishing large basin areas, my two primary outfits consist of crappie spreader rigs and Lindy rigs. Both of these rigs can effectively be fished vertically to cover lots of water while drifting. Perch are schooling fish which tend to roam open water areas during early summer in search of emerging weeds, insects, larva and bait fish. To locate these feeding fish a mobile approach is necessary.

The advantage of crappie spreader rigs is that two baits are fish on the same main line, resulting in multiple double hook-ups when the school is located. The key to fishing these rigs is to use just enough weight to keep the rig on the bottom given the depth of the water and the speed of the drift. In twenty feet of water with a light chop, this may require as little as 3/8 oz of weight or as much as 3 oz when fishing sixty feet of water with moderate waves.

For crappie spreader rigs, try using a pencil style weight to get the bait down fast without tangling. When using a Lindy rig, switch to a No-Snagg sinker. Ordinary bell sinkers tend to get hung-up in rocky and weedy areas where perch hold. The curved cylindrical shape and unique design of the No-Snagg sinker allows it to easily ride over the top of rocks and slide through weeds without becoming snagged.

Make certain that the weight is in contact with the bottom at all time. This means occasionally letting out more line throughout the drift. Perch generally feed within a few feet of the bottom. If your bait is out of the strike zone you cannot get bit.

When fishing from shore or around shallow rocky areas, try a 1/16 oz. Fuzz-E- Grub in crawfish color. Tip the Fuzz-E- Grub with two small pieces of nightcrawlers and work the jig with a slow horizontal presentation. Drag the jig across the bottom without any undue hopping action. The jig, with its two trailing crawler pieces, resembles a crawfish crawling across the bottom. The action of the Fuzz-E- Grub tail, along with the scent and added action of the nightcrawler, is irresistible to perch. In addition, the noise imparted by the jig dragging on the rocks mimics the sound of a crawfish.

As summer progresses and more perch tuck into heavy weed cover, a slip float approach becomes increasingly effective. Instead of fishing bait on a plain hook, try adding a jig to the slip float rig to make it more effective. For float fishing, use a jig that rides horizontal and offers a good vertical presentation. The Lindy Quiver jig contains the correct oblong head design and fine filament dressing that quivers with any subtle movement of the jig. Even the slightest movement of the float from waves will get the Quiver jig dancing.

Set the float so that the bait rides deep within clearing and pockets of the weeds. Use a jigging and pausing retrieve to impart action on the bait. Allow the bait to rest for a minute between each jigging session before retrieving the rig a few feet and repeating the process. Match your float to your bait size. This way perch need to exert less pressure and feel less resistance when taking the float down.

When fishing a 1/16 oz. Quiver jig, tipped with a medium leech or piece of crawler, a medium size Thill Pro Series Slip Float is sufficient. With its brass tube insert, this float allows the line to slide effortlessly through the shaft of the float without tangling. Thill Pro Series Slip Floats come in an assortment of sizes to accommodate any size bait.

This summer get rigged up to catch more perch. With an assortment of Lindy rigs, No-Snagg sinkers, jigs and slip floats, you will be ready to target perch at any depth.

Author Steve Ryan
Steve Ryan
Steve Ryan is an outdoor writer and avid angler who enjoys targeting trophy fish throughout the Midwest and beyond.