How to Ice Fish for Perch

How to Ice Fish for Perch

Anglers love to go ice fishing for perch. If you get a chance to spot a pool of perch feeding, you don’t want to quit fishing until or unless your bucket overloads. 

For some people, jjigging to ice fish perch is the least fun part of the process. That’s mainly because these fast-moving fish add to your hard work as you can hardly stay on top of a crowd of biting perches. In addition, unfavorable changes in the water conditions can slow down their bite rate, which is exactly what you do not wish for. 

So how can you go ice fishing for perch? In this post, you’ll find some useful tips to ice fish for perch and have a great ice fishing day.

Can You Catch Perch on Hard Water?

One good place to catch perches is in the lush foliage that survives in shallower water at first ice. Perches rely on minnows and other fodder, and vegetation offers a high grass edge that sustains them. Usually, perches move into greater depths with silty floors that contain insects in mid-winter. 

Larger perch schools inhabit the broad mid-lake flats during the mid-winter migration. Perches begin moving towards shallow spawning areas as winter draws closer. 

Perch spawning habitat includes secondary points, reefs, and shallow bays. Moreover, bays with a mixture of rocks and flora are popular and hold bigger perches. 

In addition, perches move in schools, some in small pods and others in giant masses of 100+ fish. So, you should focus on finding larger perch schools for ice fishing by staying active and drilling multiple holes. 

But don’t be depressed if you only get a few fish at the beginning. Instead, keep moving forward and hunt for larger schools, as the larger the school, the bigger perches you can get your hands on.

Jigging for Ice Fishing Perch

To start a good jig, you can drop your bait down and poof the bottom. Then, be quick in picking up and dropping your ice fishing rod’s tip to create a stir at the bottom. This disruption will signal a feeding activity struggle in the vicinity and lure perches. You can start ice fishing your bait by staying above your poofy bottom. 

You must work slowly and keep the bait a few feet up. However, if you bring a flasher with you, you can use it to notice the fish activity underwater. Then, you must try to pull the fish upwards with a jigging cadence. 

But, you may need to jig more quietly for more tricky fish. Begin by moving the jig head a bit closer toward the bottom and slowly bringing it back up. When perch follows, jig higher in 1-2 foot increments, regardless of the bite. 

Perches react to the bait when they are separated. For more active biting fish (4-6 ft), jig closer together, and for inactive fish, jig closer together (1-2 ft).

Of course, these measurements may be a bit complicated for you in the beginning. But once you get a hold of it, perches will come to you as smoothly as butter. 

Are Perch Baits Helpful in Ice Fishing These Fish?

Perches love to feed on freshwater shrimp, smaller baitfish, and insects. So, you can start ice jigging with a waxie-tipped soft plastic to mimic shrimp and insects. This helps you catch more average-sized perch. In addition, the waxie you add will improve commitment due to its scent. 

You don’t have to pull your hook up to attach more bait just because a small perch stole away your soft plastic. Instead, it allows you to catch big perch. 

Once you enter a perch feeding frenzy, you will catch smaller and middle-sized fish. Therefore, if you want to target the bigger perch from a school, you can filter smaller perch with large bait. 

To mimic a big lure, you can tie a flutter spoon with a minnow head tip. This will intimidate and keep away smaller perches and help you attract the big boys. 

How to Deal With Slow Bites?

Yellow perch bites are significantly affected by changes in weather and cold fronts. So, when it gets tough to get a bit, you need to mix multiple baits and try different presentations to attract perch. 

However, perch may often get attracted to the bait but would resist biting. So, you can use a spoon dropper chain for perch that may appear like a spoon for inviting perch. This will also serve the bait below a few inches, which may seem less intimidating. 

In contrast, you can trigger a bite with a slip bobber attached with a wax worm ball or tiny crappie minnow if you’re getting much slower bites. For that, you need to follow a strict set of rules.

  1. First, start by drilling two 1 ft apart holes and set a depth of 6 inches from the bottom for the rig of slip bobber in the first hole. 
  2. Now, for the second hole, jig a spoon dropper chain for perch to attract the fish. 

This trick will help you catch more fish in a tough bite. Moreover, it will encourage sluggish perch to become active and strike your bait. 

Plan on Keeping or Releasing the Fish

Filling up a bucket with perches is easy with an active bite to enjoy tasty perch filets. But, if you don’t plan on keeping the fish, you need to handle the fish delicately and release it into the water safely. This will help ensure a good and healthy perch population. 

With single-digit air temperatures, you need to be quick at releasing the fish to keep them from freezing. You should avoid putting them on the snow or ice as it damages their slime coat. Also, try using your bare hand to hold the fish after removing the hook. 

You should also avoid targeting deep water perch unless you plan on keeping them. Catching deepwater fish below 35 ft inflates the air bladder of these fish. As a result, they may not be able to re-submerge into the water again. 

So, when fishing for fun, head over to shallower waters and explore deeper water only when you’d love a fish fry for dinner. 

Lure Perch with Fresh Baits

It’s essential that you keep your bait fresh while ice fishing for perch. So, if you’re using euro larvae, minnows, or maggots, you must replace them occasionally. That’s because big perches are more drawn to strike at hooks oozing with fresh juicy maggots instead of some old frozen remains. 

Revisit Active Holes

You’re likely to spend your entire day running to different holes. However, you must remember that holes turned out great for you. So, if you have a slower bite, be sure to revisit an earlier hot hole as a big perch may still be swimming down there.  

A good reason for this is that the perch are attracted to the weed openings, which are an excellent feeding spot. Or else, there is a good structure for the perch. 

Regardless of the reason, you must try your luck by heading back to active holes. 

Act on the Five Minute Rule

Many anglers often make a common mistake, which is not moving on after failing to catch a big perch. However, they should follow a tried and tested trick and move on after five minutes of not getting a good deal. 

The reason why ice fishers may resist moving to new holes is seeing a big perch on camera. So, they wait for the fish to bite. 

Use an Underwater Camera

To analyze an active perch school, you can rely on an underwater camera. This can help you know what size perch is present and what should be your next step. Make sure to use a quality underwater camera to obtain a clearer picture. 

Final Thoughts

The key to get a bucket full of perch is to spot a feeding frenzy and throw your baits to catch as many fish as you can. However, you must stay prepared to move all day and drill several holes since perch schools tend to move quickly and far. 

If you’re successfully getting your first perch to bite, it can trigger the entire school. On the other hand, if you’re actively finding perch, this means that the schools are sticking close by. 

You can start your jig by dropping smaller baits and gradually increasing the size to catch more fish. Moreover, you must make sure to keep the lure off the bottom. This will help you maintain separation and attract perches more effectively.

Warwick Braith

Warwick Braith is a thrill seeker at heart. He loves getting outdoors and testing his limits in the wild. As a blogger for YapQ, Warwick provides readers with insights and tips on how to get the most out of their outdoor experiences. Whether it's hiking, camping, or simply exploring nature, Warwick knows how to make the most of it.

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