Yellow perch season starts now. No, there’s nothing official, nothing listed in the regulations books, nothing posted near launch ramps, no opening day or other calendar marks, and no announcements but let world know it is without doubt perch season.
Lake Erie may be struggling to produce the catchable numbers of walleyes that brought about its pronounced title as the Walleye Capital of the World and for sure the remarkable smallmouth bass fishery along the big lake’s shoreline structure is less than it once was but then there is the lowly yellow perch, a blue collar fish ever there was one.
Yep, the basement of Lake Erie must be literally teeming with swarms of perch, smallish fish that are tempting fishermen from one end of the lake to the other. Like unpopular cousins, perch stick to themselves, seldom hanging with walleyes and steelhead, the glamor guys, probably because they live in a world of eat or be eaten, but more likely because they find the table set with the right things near the bottom of the lake. Perch fishermen often haul in fish in that are obviously stuffed with water fleas and minnows but still willing to grab one more shiner minnow simply because it’s there.
And believe this, an invitation to a perch fry is to die for. Don’t be late. Yes, a walleye fillet cooked properly is good eating and steelhead trout carry a limited table fare following, but perch fried crisp and quick are Lake Erie’s very best. Any argument? I didn’t think so.
So let’s talk perch fishing. You’ll need a rod and reel. Nothing fancy or expensive. Perch bite lightly and quickly, one tap and one of two things happen. You’ve either been quick enough to sink the hook or your minnow is long gone. Just that quickly. The best outfit is a light, sensitive rod and braided line, the stuff that doesn’t stretch. Anglers can use a couple of hooks and there is a variety of spreaders and vertical rigs with multiple hooks. They all work and if you’ve spent more a couple bucks for tackle you’ve overspent.
Lake Erie’s perch get bigger from west to east. While perch fishermen in the western basin settle for eight and nine inchers, the fishermen near the eastern border of Ohio waters often bag fish exceeding a foot each. And as the perch season extends into early- late autumn, the fish keep stuffing themselves and growing.
The perch fishing off Cleveland to Conneaut is on fire right now and will get nothing but better, if that’s possible, in the next two or three months.
Indeed, Conneaut is king when it comes to big perch, really big perch. Most people associate perch with small. Those miss-informed folks have never been fishing just north of Conneaut where a 30 fish limit can average a half pound per fish or more. There’s nothing shrimpfish about that.
There’s no mistaking, perch season is on.