Head to Lake Erie, the perch are biting!


Finally! Lake Erie’s famed yellow perch bite is on.

Anxious anglers have been waiting impatiently for Erie’s perch season to crank up, but the fish have apparently had other things on their mind. Typically, perch bite reasonably well all summer, but for some unexplainable reason, or reasons, perch fishing has been frustrating and hardly productive until recent days.

Top reasons

Perch fishing
There are many reasons perch fishing is the most popular of all Lake Erie offerings. (Mike Tontimonia photo)

One reason is the simple fact that Lake Erie populations of yellow perch have been on a downhill slide for the past five or six years, with this year’s stock at the bottom of the slide. Another finger has been pointed at the inconsistent weather and wind, and still another digit at the difficulty bait shops have had obtaining Emerald Shiners, the preferred bait of yellow perch anglers.

Many interested minds wonder if the bait is really there to catch or if the lack of calmer waters that minnow netters require has been the issue. But negatives aside, knowledgeable perch fishermen are now reeling in some of the best perch of the year and if history repeats itself, it is just going to get better in coming weeks and should last at least through October.

Out on the water

Some friends got together a few days ago for a perch outing and the fish we caught were certainly not starving. In fact, each and every perch we caught was chubby at least and noticeably overweight at the most. We found plenty of action in 52 feet of water straight out of the Conneaut harbor. Our day started out slow and although lots of bottom-hugging fish could be seen on the Humminbird depth finder, their mouths were closed. We decided that we would wait them out, just as a couple dozen boats around us were doing.

And yes, the dinner bell rang later in the morning and the bite was on.

One of the unique things about perch fishing is that anglers can use multiple hooks, which often end up producing multiple catches. One fellow in our group cranked in several doubles, but the rest of us connected on just one at a time. Go figure.

Takes the ‘touch’

Perch fishing is not as easy as it sounds. With a daily limit of 30, the sport challenges one to develop what might be called the “touch,” because perch can be extremely secretive, as they often seem to remove a minnow from a hook undetected.

Hook set-ups can differ greatly and every fisherman in a group seems to favor a special rig. My personal favorite is a spreader, two red hooks, and small green twister type tails tipped with Emerald Shiner minnows. I am obsolete in my approach according to most others, who have almost all turned to vertical rigs. To each their own.

Perch fishing makes for a perfect day for anglers of all ages and skill levels. Perch charter guides like brothers Captain Bill and first mate Gary Huber, as well as several of their associates run out of Conneaut where the largest of Lake Erie perch seem to gather at this time of year. Collectively they are in tune with the bite and smiling broadly with the recent beginning of prime time.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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