If you ask any perch angler, you will find that it is an absolute pleasure to hook panfish after panfish on an ultra-light tackle. No doubt, it is one of the best ways to spend the early mornings of every season, especially the spring. Now there are two things that need to be cleared at the start. First is that perch is not a monster fish that will be enough for a meal of a family. And the second is that there a number of species that are called perch. But the true perch are freshwater fish with two most common species pursued by the anglers: Yellow Perch of North America and the European Perch. The former is a bit small in size whereas the latter is larger and paler in color. On the taste score, they are both excellent!
Talking about the taste, they are considered to be the best panfish and there are no cases where an angler is not satisfied by a cooler half-full with these little beauties. If you are thinking about hosting a party and inviting your friends and family over for a fish fry, you will not find anything tastier than the perch.
The only catch here is that you need to catch a lot of them. They are small in size and seem hard to catch. But what they lack in size, they make that up in taste.
The Perch – Introduction
The most common perch in North America – the yellow perch is called “Perca flavescens” in binomial nomenclature. The name is given to them because of the bright yellow or golden color with distinctive vertical stripes that run vertically on their abdominal area. They are more pronounced in the males and there are instances where stripes were non-existent in the infants.
Apparently, there are many fish species that will resemble the perch, including bass or panfish, but they are different from each other. Essentially, it is a small family of fishes with three species and inhabits water in close range to each other.
Again, they are not too big in size, but they are “wanted” by legions of anglers because of their superior taste. The fact is that the fun is half completed by just eating them because it is very exciting to catch them also.
The European Perch is bigger and heavier than its counterpart in North America, weighing around 5 pounds and measuring over 18 inches in length. On the other hand, the Yellow Perch is around a foot in length and weigh about a pound. There are rare cases where anglers found bigger Yellow Perch, but they are extremely rare. As a principle, the females are a little bigger than males.
On average, you will find a perch from 5 to 10 inches that weigh around a pound.
Habitat & Growing Conditions
In general, the Yellow Perch thrive in cold waters and temperate regions, with the ideal water temperature around 63 to 77 degrees. They are a hardy lot and can face harsh weather conditions, but once the temperature of water plummets down to 50 degrees or lower, they stop growing. Similarly, they are not made for warm water. That’s why they have a limited range in the south although they grow in larger numbers and quickly there.
At the height of summer, they show clear signs of stress and undergrowth as the level of the mercury rises to cover the upward bound. This compels them to stop feeding.
Place In Food Chain
If you are wondering “enough of the praises of this little devil,” brace yourselves because this is just a beginning. This fish is one of the most popular sport fish and there is a reason why it is a pure pleasure. But you need to see in it the world and the environment it lives in.
They fight and hustle on daily basis in their habitat. It is because they serve as the primary food for bigger fishes like bass, crappie, pike, muskie, trout, walleye. Even, bigger perch are known to prey on their little cousins!
If it was not hard enough, they are almost stale food for almost every fish-eating bird, from eagles to kingfishers. The infants of the Yellow perch struggle every day of their life while growing. This is the reason their population remains in check because many of the kids do not reach their adulthood. To keep things in perspective, the Walleye can consume half of each year’s hatch, thus laying a ceiling to the number of perch in a neighborhood.
If you are not familiar with poor swimming fishes, you may break into laughter but it is true. These little things are much vulnerable because of their lack of speed and maneuverability. They are lazy and do not accelerate easily. This makes them an easy lunch for a bigger fish with half preying capabilities, looking for a sluggish small fish.
So, if you are a hungry walleye, muskie, or pike, you will find that it is the least taxing to dine on the perch because they are slow and plentiful. For the anglers and sports aficionados, you need to keep in mind the number of variations for perch!
They somehow lie in the middle of their respective food chain, which drastically affects their behavior and living style.
A single perch would have a hard time defending itself and its family. So, the school to make themselves safe in the face of impending danger. These schools are usually size-specific, to avoid the possibility of bigger fish eating the smaller ones. Now if you have caught one of those yellow-patterned fish, there are healthy chances that it has many others in the tow.
Due to the harsh environment, they need to put up with, it is only natural that this fish seeks structure and cover around weed beds, pilings, brush, and other under-water structure. They also resort to holding on or remain near the bottom to avoid a brush with predators.
Resultingly, you will not find them in the open waters where they do not stand a fighting chance against the bigger fish such as muskie, pike, trout, and many more. Just like they are in the middle of the food chain, they rarely dive more than 30 feet in the water.
As evidenced by the previous lines, the life of yellow perch is defined by a double-edged sword. This makes them prefer day over the night for feeding and strolling. They are most active in the early morning and in the afternoons, mostly just before the sunset. If you know the time when this fish is dormant or active, you can make much-educated decision to angle it and catch it with much ease.
There is an exception to that routine. For instance, during the spawn when the water temperature rises and measure around 44 to 55 degrees. During these times and conditions, the perch mate throughout the clock, and you will find them in the shallow waters and tributaries.
The best seasons for the perch are Spring and Fall, with summer in the middle. As discussed in the previous section, the water temperature starts to fall by mid-summer. This makes them sluggish and they abandon feeding, thus resulting in idle swimming and lethargy. At this point, it is way too hard to catch them. Now, the best thing you can do is to wait for the water to cool down, either with a change in weather or season.
When they are swimming in the ideal temperature range, they have diverse diet patterns that change as they grow and go through different phases of life. Similar to other species, the hatchlings and little fish feed on zooplankton and then move on to the invertebrates. As far as the adult perch go, they prey o shrimp, crawfish, roe, insects of all kinds, including other smaller perch!
Tips & Tricks To Catch Perch
Now, we have come to the place where we talk about practical stuff. In the lines below, we will discuss some of the practical tips and tricks to catch the Yellow Perch.
There is no chance you will feel many bites with perch if you do not carry a sensitive rod, light line, and a tiny terminal tackle with you. These are the must.
On the other side, there is nothing more practical than a light power rod, with the ultralight being the ideal. Fundamentally, you will fish with the same tackle as you would set to catch crappie, but there will be a change in the hooks area, which we will discuss in the later sections.
In general, anglers prefer monofilament for panfish, but there are still exceptions to that. If you are in danger to lose floats and hooks to brush, you can step up and adjust to heavier weight braids. Keep in mind that a heavier weight braid is less abrasion resistance if it is in the same diameter as the mono. It is not a good piece to tie knots, so you should keep that in mind also when you choose to tie the knots.
The seasoned angler use Palomar, Uni, San Diego Jam, or the combination of any with either braid or fluoro. The best part is that these knots work well with mono as well. The key takeaway here is to match your gear and keep the constituting parts in synch. In other words, you will not be able to fill your cooler half even after spending a good part of the day, if you are using a medium power rod, heavy line, and big hooks!
Pro Tip: For all the good things you need with the tackle like supersensitivity, shock strength, and abrasion resistance, stick 4 to 6 pounds of quality mono and start flying!
The Right Hooks & Rigs
In terms of size, a perch has a smaller mouth when compared to that of a crappie. To even things out, you need to run hooks, from number 6 to number 8 with live bait.
Common spreader rigs can also come in handy while fishing for perch, but they commonly use bigger hooks that are ideal for crappie and do not be of much use for the perch. Again, you need to think twice if you need big contraptions like a long-shanked Aberdeen to catch perch!
Most anglers rely on tackle and hooks as compared to rigs and contraptions. Still, if you have set your heart on using one, you should look for Bullet Weights rig, instead of Aberdeen. This will help you to work at the bottom of the water even in the absence of a slip float.
Pro Tip: If you need to rig on you own, you will find many excellent sources online that will teach you a step-by-step process to prepare one for the perch!
Importance Of Slip Float
Ask any angler and they will tell you that one of the most important pieces for perch fishing that they do not want to go out without is a solid slip float. A slip float does more than one crucial task and can be called as the friend of a fisherman. Some of the salient features of slip float are as follows:
1. Enable accurate casting
2. Provide precise depth control
3. Offer strike detection
In simple terms, it is just excellent perch gear that you should have if you intend to fill your cooler to show off and fill your belly!
Keep in mind that the yellow perch is almost the size of the crappie, so you would have many options to go around. Some of the most popular include Thill Crappie Cork and the Krazywolf Balsa Multipurpose Fishing Floats. Both of these flip floats are made to last a long time but you need to have stopper beads with the Krazywolf. Contrary to this, the Thill does not require beads because of its bead-less design.
You will find that slip floats and braids do not pair well. It is because the braid will hurt the insert that goes through the canter of the float. Once again, mono is the best choice when it comes to picking from these two.
For those who do not know how to rig a slip float, you can always consult a video tutorial online that will tell you in length what to expect and how to get your own rig without much hassle.
Slip Floating Over Cover
For a perfect perch catch, live bait like minnow is the best live bait. Still, it can be hard to work your way over and around a cover because of the snags. In this situation, you can add a slip float to the mix and it will help in targeting the brush piles without the irritation of being hung up.
As we saw in the habitat section, perch use the cover and bottom of the bed to keep itself away from danger. In these conditions, a slip float is the best way to present a live bait in a seamless manner. You have much control over the introduction of the live float, with precise location over the cover, there are always higher chances with a slip float to catch a perch!
As the most anglers will agree, you can have fantastic results in catching the perch if you find a downed tree or a brush pile and rig a live minnThen The, start casting over and around the cver, while adjusting the float to be around 6 to 10 inches from the botofm or the top end of the brush pile. If you end up doing this, it is better to have your cooler ready because they are coming!
Pro Tips: Somehow, if you do not have minnow as live bait for perch, waxworms and crickets can always be the great alternatives to that. Over YouTube, you will find many informative videos on how to hook crickets as bait.
Tiny Swim Baits Rigged Weedless
At this point, you know a lot about the behavior and nature of perch. Like a savvy angler, you know that the perch adores cover and take it as the assurance for life. You can take advantage of that fact for your fishing endeavors, but it is always a great pain to fish in the mess.
We know that the perch like live baits like a minnow, so we can capitalize on the fact and rig a tiny soft bait weedless. This will enable us to avoid the problem of wrestling with the vegetation, allowing you to fish effortlessly through weed beds with a life-like bait.
Pro Tip: You can go for an ultra-realistic live bait like the Johncoo 3D Eyes Shad. It is around a quarter short of three inches and can prove to be deadly, owing to its right size against the perch. The cherry on top is its delicate tail action that will drive the prey crazy.
An excellent alternative to this is the Zoom UltraVibe Speed Craw while taking into account the fondness of the perch for the craw. If you are thinking that over 3 inches are way too much, you can always clip the tail end to make it more streamlined. Still, the combination of salty flavor, exquisite action, and vibrant color choices make it a wonderful bait.
An angler does not have many options for a small weedless hook, so you will get the winner in the form of Paxipa weedless #6 hook. Of course, they are not perfect by any stretch, they are good enough to get you a cooler-full of perch.
Pro Tip: On the threads that join the guard to the hook, you may want to drop some glue. Also, clip the tip of the guard and tinker with its tension for the best results. For a pocket change and 100 units, this deal is the best you can get in the support systems.
Jigs & Swim Baits
As we are drawing close to the end, we will conclude the tips and tricks with another practical thing. For awesome action, while tackling and overall great action, try to hook small jig heads that are combined with small swimbaits such as Strike King Lures Rage Swimmer or the Zoom Bait Fat Albert Grub. The different tail styles in the two will help you in choosing the best one that works perfectly for you.
Most anglers prefer 2.75-inch pieces but you can do fine even with something slightly larger than that. They also offer a wide range of vibrant colors, so that you will always have something that the perch may want to bite on, on the day of fishing!
Pair these hooks with a 1/32-ounce unpainted jig head and you will get a smooth swimming action with your baits. You can jerk them off the bottom or pick up the slack and see them settle again at the bottom.
This style of lure has found a massive following lately, so it is not so far-fetched to give it a try!
In North America, Yellow Perch are a staple during the better part of spring and fall, and there is a good reason behind it. They offer much sport while catching and it could be said that it is not for the faint of heart. You will seldom find any other small fish that could make a better meal than this one, thus making them one of the most popular panfish across the length and breadth of the Northern Hemisphere. In the tips discussed above, you will find wisdom and practicality to make every tour to the riverside worth your while. You have a better idea about all the gear and contraptions you need, all the supplies like live-bait, life-like bait, and other tiny things with you for a unique experience. In the end, do not forget to master the techniques of throwing and getting around and over the cover. You need to keep the passion alive to come out with a cooler full of yellow perch. It will be a feast that none of your friends and family will forget!