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Ice Fishing for Perch

Ice Fishing for Perch Ice Fishing for Perch
By Dave Adams


With shoulders hunched and a shiver, the cold beer was placed quickly back on the bar. Then, my, I-only-fish-when-it`s-warm, get-to-the-next-fishing-spot-at-60 MPH, bass-angler-friend, John said, “Do you want to stand on a block of ice all day?”

“I don’t see the excitement in that.”

“I`ll pick you up at five, tomorrow,” I answered. “And you’ll see.”

During the ride north, the early morning conversation was light, mostly centering on the up-coming Super Bowl and I could sense his apprehension. But, this day would be different.

“I wouldn’t wear that heavy coat while we’re driving,” I said, as we approached the entrance ramp to I-79 north. Exiting the interstate at Erie, we continued onto Route 20 east and followed the signs to Bayfront Highway, passing the Chestnut Street ramp and parked at the Erie public dock (Dobbin`s Landing).

“Pretty neat,” was all I heard as we arrived. John, who didn’t want to go ice fishing, had grabbed his coat and was already on the ice.

It was hard not to admire the tranquil view. There was no wind, just the winter sun, brilliant at that, as it reflected a warmth from the eight inches of smooth ice. The air temperature was a comfortable 25 degrees and other anglers busied themselves, anticipating a day of wintertime angling, at its best.

Not far from downtown Erie, on the frozen waters of Presque Isle Bay, the ice reaches a safe thickness usually by mid-January, and ice anglers do well in a variety of areas. The headwater of the bay is generally good for early season perch or the occasional walleye. In the middle of the bay, the bigger perch will be at the 18-foot depths. Another hot spot is near the Chestnut Street ramp. Also, nearby, you can try Misery Bay or Horseshoe Pond where larger minnows or suckers can entice a large pike to your tip-up.

It wasn’t long after the first hole was drilled. Stumbling and sliding - my bass buddy forgot that you can`t run on ice – he reached the tip-up, iced a nice perch while yelling, loud enough to disturb the Canadian residents across the lake, “I got one.”

“Not very exciting is it?” I said. “By the way, how do you like standing on a block of ice all day?”

“Okay,” John said, looking away. “You got me.”

Through out the morning, the action was steady. Usually, the best tactic is jigging with small blue, purple, or chartreuse ice jigs tipped with a grub. But today, we were using tip-ups.

The perch couldn't resist a minnow dangled about four inches off the bottom. We concentrated in the 10-foot depths and used 1/4 oz. of weight to keep the bait in the strike zone.

That day, an ice hut wasn’t needed. Around noon, though, when the conversation about sports and good beer lagged, the sun left. Gray clouds overtook the blue, the wind let its presence known, and a few flurries fell, we felt the first chill of the day.

It was time to jig. I figured that a purple ice jig would work well and that we should move deeper, to perhaps 14 feet of water. But first, I suggested, "Lets take a short walk, warm up, and see how everyone else is doing."

The first person we checked had just limited-out on perch. “I was using a chartreuse ice jig, tipped with a maggot,” the young angler said.

“I`m warm enough. Now, let`s fish," John said.

We fished another two hours, then left for home. Later that week John called. "I just bought an ice hut and a ice jigging pole. What time are we leaving on Saturday?” he said. "I`m driving."


"But, let`s try on the Presque Isle State Park side," I said. "We can park either in the beach one parking lot or in one the first two parking lots along the bay side of the park. That way it's a shorter walk to the headwater."

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pitgirl24 | Posted: February 9, 2003

I liked the story. I have been ice fishing for the past 2 weeks here in north dakota. I love it!!! This is the first year I have ever ice fished, we bought a little hut, and have caught a lot of perch. Watching the bobber bob up and down in the hole is so addicting. I just can't get enough of it.

Terry | Posted: January 26, 2003

Really good. I am a recent first time ice fisherman and can totally relate to this situation. I too yelled when I caught my first one through the ice.

bili | Posted: January 11, 2003

no good