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Catch More Jumbo Perch This Fall

By Jason Halfen - October 20, 2020
Fall is a great time to target the biggest panfish in your favorite lake, river, or reservoir. Jumbo perch, slab crappies, and bull gills are all packing on the pounds before cold north winds convert the colorful autumn landscape to shades of brown, and eventually, white. Here are three tips to help you put more jumbo perch in the boat this fall, whether you're looking for a trophy or the last fish fry of the season.
Go shallow in clear lakes. Some of the Midwest's most prolific perch factories, like Minnesota's Leech Lake and North Dakota's Devil's Lake, host extraordinary shallow bites for fall jumbos. This general movement of quality fish into water that might only be three to four feet deep is often coupled to the last crayfish molting of the season, an event that rings the dinner bell for fall jumbos. Look for relatively hard bottom with scattered rock and low-growing vegetation, like sandgrass or even chara - a hard, calcified algae. I've experienced many fall days when you can, quite literally, sight fish in water that is hip deep for perch in the 12-14"+ class. Pitch a 2" minnow-profile soft plastic rigged on a 1/16 or 1/32 oz jig on ultralight tackle to these supersized tigers. Now that's fun!

Look to the first break in bad weather. Nothing is more consistent in the fall than inconsistent weather. Wind, rain and snow will push shallow perch into weeds along the first prominent breakline that separates shoreline flats from deeper water. These fish will still bite, but expect the action to be slower and require a live bait approach. Under these conditions, pivot from a soft plastic on a jig to a fathead minnow presented beneath a bobber. As you look for fish, remember that a few boat lengths can make a big difference in terms of the number and quality of fish that are present; patience will be rewarded!

Look to river channels in reservoirs. Small reservoirs - often called flowages across the Northland - often host extraordinary perch populations of their own. On many of these bodies of water, fall perch action is concentrated in the deeper water that represents their original river channels. Look for small schools of jumbos with help from your Side Imaging-equipped fishfinder, and then present soft plastics or fathead minnows on 1/16 oz jig to elicit strikes. Don't be surprised to tangle with a quality walleye or slab crappie while perchin'!

Jumbo perch fishing kicks into high gear in the fall. Spend some time this season enjoying those cold water tigers!

Jason Halfen
Dr. Jason Halfen is a long-time guide, tournament angler, and specialist in marine electronics. He owns and operates The Technological Angler, dedicated to teaching anglers to leverage hi-tech tools to find and catch more fish. Learn more by visiting
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