Spring Perch Bite on Little Bay de NocBy Captain Marty Papke - February 1, 2008
Ice-out starts triggering perch to spawning areas. When water temps reach in the mid 40's, the spawn begins and Perch begin to deposit their eggs on vegetation, brush or sand/gravel bottoms. Perch do not build beds. Generally, the spawn occurs during night-time hours, and depending on its size, Perch will deposit between 4,000 to 40,000 eggs. Water depths for spawning varies from 3 to 10 feet. Spawning areas are residual areas where fresh, clean, and clear waters enters. Once spawning has completed, the eggs hatch between 8 and 10 days. Unlike other panfish species, once spawning is complete Yellow Perch leave their spawning sites. Perch aren't good parents and many game fish will readily eat their young.
Pre-spawn and spawning Perch can be difficult to catch. However, post-span perch fishing is generally best! Perch generally school by age class and size. As shallow waters warm, you will see post-spawn Great Lakes perch moving into deeper water and can be found suspended several feet off the bottom. Using electronics can help you locate these schooling Perch and once located, you will these fish passing through regularly through the fishing day.
Some "go to" spots on Little Bay de Noc are the upper Bay around the Whitefish, Rapid and Day's River. Look for fresh green weedbeds emerging. Search around the deeper water breaks off the reef areas as well and don't forget the weedbeds surrounding the Butler's Island, Kipling location. The deeper waters south of Gladstone has some good runs of perch as well.
Fishing methods should be kept simple. Fish vertically using slip-floats, tiny jig heads or perch 2-hook rigs in the deeper waters tipped with wigglers, small minnows, wax worms and red worms produce the best catches of spring Perch. Once you find a school of perch, anchor up and you will usually see perch moving though the area throughout the day. Perch eating preferences include other fish, crawfish, snails, insects, worms, fresh water shrimp and wigglers. Perch belly meat and even perch eyeballs are two of the best fish baits for catching schooling perch.
On our Perch Charters we not only have fun but try and do some "catch and release" of some of the larger Perch. These larger perch are the stock of the Bay.
If your looking for a fun, early spring fishing adventure check out Little Bay de Noc and get that bucket of fresh Perch filets for the dinner table!
Captain Marty Papke