PRIME TIME PERCH
Perch are a much sought after game fish, especially during last ice months of March and in some places April. They are also a delicious fish to eat. Cajun perch is my absolute favourite!
Here in Manitoba, the giant perch lakes are well documented. They also change on a yearly basis depending on winter kill or over harvest by anglers. It’s a simple thing to visit the Master Angler page here in Manitoba to determine which lake is currently kicking out jumbo’s.
PRACTICING SELECTIVE HARVEST
In Alberta, Hooked Contributor and guide Dave Shmyr has caught more than his fair share of jumbo perch. Dave also knows how fragile these fisheries can become with over fishing.
Residing in Alberta, it’s safe to say most of the ice anglers throughout the province target perch all winter long. Some go for their limits every chance they get, some release and some take what they are going to eat that night. I think it’s very important to understand your lake to protect the species within it. I fish a couple lakes for perch strictly trying to catch a super jumbo 14 plus inch jumbo and everything goes back. I don’t keep any perch from these lakes because they have been over harvested in the past. The limits have been dropped to minimal for a reason. I have seen these lakes in unbelievable shape in the past and now get to see how over harvest can ruin a lake. Then of course on the other side of that example I have a lake near by that’s very over populated with perch, therefore we take all our eaters from it. I keep 8-11 inch perch to protect the big spawners, and give yourself a better chance of getting a giant one day.
I spend most of my time in March chasing perch in the Manitoba Interlake. Certainly the Shoal Lakes have been great place to go to catch both numbers of perch and a few trophies thrown in. While East Shoal has seen a decline in catches, the other lakes seem to be holding their own.
FINDING PERCH LATE SEASON ICE
It does pay to be mobile when it comes to perch. This is important later in the season because the schools of perch will tighten up and if you find that school you could be in for some of the best fishing of your life. It also doesn’t hurt that the weather is usually fantastic and travel on the lakes unlimited in a good year.
I have found that perch tend to move shallower at this time of year, usually on sand flats next to weed lines. This is also a great big pike location so making sure to have a tip up out with a big dead bait is a real bonus. Now that you have found that mega school, you can be pretty aggressive in your presentation. I really love the Lindy Flyer Rattlin Spoon tipped with a piece of uncooked shrimp. With the presence of scuds in many of these lakes, shrimp is a real good option. By pounding this spoon in the marl, perch just get fired up! You can catch a lot out of one whole before they spook with this method. That’s why you always have another rod rigged up with tungsten jig and small plastic to trigger extra bites.
Mealworms and maggots are hard to come by in Manitoba but artificial imitations will get the job done at this time of year. Putting a minnow on a deadstick will work, especially for the biggest perch. I have caught some 15 inch perch over the years, but have not kept one. I will only keep perch in the 8-11 inch range if I can. This will conserve the resource for years to come!