Although perch don’t grow that big, a 3-4 pounder is always quite a prize. Fishing for perch is a lot of fun, does not require extreme gear, and they’re also very tasty. However, if you want to score a bull perch, maybe close to the record, here are a few essentials in terms of perch fishing.
Perch Habitat and Habits
Perch normally populate small lakes, ponds, and water streams of all sizes, but mostly medium water streams. They can be caught relatively easy, all year long. If you’re looking for a good spot to catch perch, you should be looking for a place just off a weedbed, not very far from the shore / riverbank, with a depth between 5-15 feet. Submerged, partially submerged trees or other structure provide excellent ambush places for perch, so you can be sure you’ll find them there.
Perch are lazy predators though, sometimes you have to look for them, especially if the water is cold, rather than making them come to you. However, they are voracious opportunists, attacking any bait that comes close, in front of them.
During April, they can be found in shallower waters, up to 6 feet deep, as they come to spawn. Once the spawn is over, they get back to deeper, colder waters. When it comes to weather, low barometric pressure and even rainy weather are great conditions to catch perch.
Even if they can be caught in various moments of the day, the best moments are at dusk and at night. Just as walleye or pike, they have a very sharp eyesight, which gives them superiority even in murky waters. Typically they hate bright light places, and in very clear waters, they will seek deeper spots, with weeds and a lot of places to hide and prepare an ambush.
Perch Fishing Techniques
Perch can be caught by different methods. One of the most common methods used for catching perch in Europe, is still fishing, with medium action rods, various rigs and dead or live baits. However they can easily be caught via float fishing, or actively fishing with lures, fast action rods and light gear.
Perch Bait and Lures
When it comes to natural bait, perch can strike almost anything that looks tasty and comes close to them. They will take a variety of baits, beginning with red maggots, lobworms, redworms, leeches, soft-shelled crayfish, prawn, silverfish or basically any type of small fish. Some anglers even use goldfish as bait, bits of bacon or slices of liver.
As for artificial baits, soft plastics are top of the list. Shads and grubs on small jig heads make excellent lures for perch. You’ll have to change a few though, until you get the right one. But in general, for shads is best to use the ones imitating roach or other silverfish. However, yellow or orange colored soft plastics, or even red, should work. Crankbaits imitating crayfish can also bring nice results.
For metallic lures, small Willow leaf spoons, silver or gold, also imitating roach are great. Also, if the lure is enriched with a red element such as a piece of red plastic at the end of it or even half a worm on the hook, its effectiveness should increase.
Rods. If you’re going with lures, evidently you should be using a light lure rod and tackle. Therefore, a lightweight rod, within the 6 – 7 ft. length range should do. I’ve been using a G Loomis GL2 Ultralight stick, but there are of course, many other cheaper alternatives, such as a Shakespeare 2-Piece Light Action Ugly Stik or an Abu Garcia Vengeance Spinning Rod.
In case you’re still-fishing on a pond, with natural baits, longer rods, up to 10-12 ft., medium action are more appropriate.
A still-fishing setup for perch calls for slightly heavier reels, withing the 3000 range, such as a Shimano Exage 3000 MH.
Line. There are two choices when it comes to line for perch: braided or fluorocarbon. Braided will offer you longer casts, and it’s resistant to abrasion, therefore it’s a great choice for fishing with lures, at it will last longer. On the other hand, fluorocarbon is invisible in the water. Therefore, in clear water it might be a better option, since perch have quite an acute eyesight. Anyway, the line shouldn’t be too heavy. Line within the 10-14lb. range should be fine.
Hooks. Perch are “inhalers”, they have rather big mouths, and very often they will be gut hooked. In a case like this, shouldn’t be released as it will die in short time, even if when released it doesn’t seem too affected. Therefore, it’s best to use bigger hooks, and if you’re catching / releasing, you may want to opt for barbless hooks. Owner Mosquito Hooks, No. 6 or No. 4 are great. However, barbless, circle hooks can result in less damage to the fish, so for catch and release these might be better.