While scanning a rock pile in 22 feet of water with my boat’s electronics, I spotted several fish hovering just off the bottom. Immediately, I engaged the Spot-Lock feature on the trolling motor to keep the boat over top of them. My fishing partners and I then baited our jigs with leeches, dropped them to the bottom, gave them a couple of twitches and began reeling up colourful yellow perch. That’s right—we were specifically targeting perch in open water.
Many anglers chase perch throughout the winter months, but stop fishing for them after ice-out, preferring instead to go after bigger gamefish such as northern pike, walleye and trout. That’s too bad, because open-water perch are an angler’s dream. Throughout the spring and summer, these feisty fish are very aggressive feeders, feasting on small minnows, crayfish, snails, crustaceans, larvae and other aquatic creatures—and that makes for plenty of fun fishing action, not to mention tasty fillets. Here are my top tips for finding and catching open-water perch.