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Lets Go Perch Fishing

Lets Go Perch Fishing Lets Go Perch Fishing
By Dave Adams

Forget all those pretty stories and articles about beautiful sunsets while gently releasing fish. This column is about catching fish - lots of them. And doing what comes naturally to the human species - filling that void in our belly with some fine tasting Lake Erie perch fillets.

Most anglers - including me - get darn right upset if we don't catch fish. And come to think about, most of us like to catch fish because they taste good when we eat them. And if we don't catch fish when we go fishing, we get downright grumpy. And a hungry grumpy angler looking at an over-priced twice-frozen hunk of old fish at the grocery store is not a pretty sight.

If you're hungry for fish, go perch fishing on Lake Erie because this tasty fish is now the big news on Lake Erie. And for good reason - the upsurge of the perch population and hot bite during June has many anglers switching alliances from walleye to perch.

"Within the past two or three years, perch have made quite a comeback," says charter captain, Jim Dietz of Jaw Jabber Charters (724-789-7699). "Once you find the perch expect to limit out in about an hour and half and many of those perch fish are up to 14 inch."

According to Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission fisheries biologist, Chuck Murray that trend is continuing. "Good hatches during 1996 and 1998 will provide excellent fishing this year," says Murray. "And an excellent 2001 hatch will provide good fishing for the next few years."

In the Review of the Lake Erie and Presque Bay yellow perch sport angling fisheries report (1997 - 2001) report annual estimates of Lake Erie perch stock size (age 2 and older in Pennsylvania waters) have averaged 1.2 million fish during the period of 1996-2000. That's a lot of perch fillets! Most surprising, the same reports states that the average number of perch caught by anglers during that same period was only 50,170.

They are there, now let's catch them.

Lake Erie perch aren’t known for their intelligence or elusiveness. They are, however, known for their appetite for minnows (dead or alive). During early June, perch will begin filing the angler's cooler by being caught near the channel entrance. Soon after, according to Dietz, target the 35 to 42 foot depths just off the point. Between mid-June and continuing till the end of the month the perch will start spreading out. "As the month progresses you can still hang around the point, but move to the 42 to 60 foot depths," says Dietz. "If you don't catch a fish in 15 minutes - move."

Use a medium action rod, non-stretch line such as Spider Wire of Fireline, three-way swivel, 12 pound test fluorocarbon leader, two ounce weight, and size six or eight hook. The non-stretch line, which is used to detect the light strike of perch, is attached one of the eyes of the three-way swivel. Tie on a five foot fluorocarbon leader and hook to the other eye. Finally, attach 18 inches of line to the remaining eye and tie on the weight. Note: heavy weight is used to ensure that the bait reaches the bottom with the least of amount line and prevent bowing of line.

The type of minnow used is important. "Make sure you use the Lake Erie (emerald) shiner," says Dietz. "I have soaked other minnows such as the fathead all day and not caught a fish." Also, for a more natural presentation, hook the minnow through the nose, Dietz says.

Bring your cooler, fillet knife, and access Presque Isle Bay by taking I-79 north to the Presque Isle exit. Follow Route 832 into the park. Turn right at the first road past the administration building. The West Pier Boat Launch is 1/2 mile on the left. The minimum size on perch is eight inch, with a limit of 20. There is no limit on fun and good eating - enjoy.

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