Schooling Yellow Perch

By Dave Duwe - September 1, 2010
After Labor Day in Wisconsin, the kids migrate back to school. At this same time the yellow perch are also migrating from the main lake basin to the shallows.

Perch will travel in schools throughout the day. Once you locate the schools they can be caught extremely fast. They feed by sight so the daylight hours are the best time to catch them. Unlike most fish, perch are not affected by the weather as much, so don't let a cold front get you down.

In late summer, I will look for the perch in a depth range of 10-14 ft of water. The key for me is finding a location in a lake that has hard bottom (sand/rock) with scattered weeds in close proximity to an area of soft bottom (muck). Lake Geneva in Walworth County has been my choice for years. It is clear water with a tremendous amount of areas I described.

Once I locate the fish I always anchor. This will allow you to stay on the actively feeding school. Because perch are a schooling fish don't spend too much time anchored without catching any fish. As a side note, perch are typically oriented close to bottom, so anchoring will allow you to present the bait more effectively.

The equipment that I use is a 6' to 6'6" medium light Fenwick spinning rod with a Mitchell Advocet reel spooled with a 4-6 lb test. Perch can be subtle biters so a light rod is essential. I choose a slip- bobber rig. I will use a Thill bobber with a plain hook or an ice jig. Because perch are light biters try using the smallest bobber you can, it will help you detect a lot more bites. The preferred bait is late summer for me has always been small fat head minnows. By using minnows you will tend to catch bigger fish and prevent the small perch from nibbling your bait off. When setting the slip-bobber I will start positioning the bait 6 inches to 1 foot off bottom. The distance off bottom is dictated a lot of the time on how thick the submerged weeds are. When in an active school of fish you need to get your bait into the water quickly, so you can catch another fish. Action can be one after another until the school moves. If fat head minnows aren't working, a good alternative would be leaf worms.

With the perch located in some of the shallowest water they will live in all year, shore anglers will also have an opportunity for success. The same approach can be used as if you were in a boat.

Two of the best things about fishing perch after Labor Day haven't even been mentioned yet. First, the boat traffic on the lakes is reduced by over half on a typical day and secondly and even more important is that perch are some of the best table fare on can get.

With school in session, go catch some yellow perch.

Author Dave Duwe
Dave Duwe
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over 20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website www.fishlakegeneva.com .