Use a shorter rod in a shelter, since there’s less vertical room for hook-sets

Ice-fishing Friday: 2 must-know strategies to land more jumbo perch


Using a hut or shelter is a good time to watch fish with an underwater camera


Once the perch go off the feed and head back to deeper water, it’s time to switch it up and hunker down for a while. Sitting over a neutral school of staging midday perch and getting them to bite is often a game of patience, but their predatory instincts can still kick in when they’re presented with an easy meal.



Under this scenario, sitting in the comfort of an ice hut or portable shelter is often the norm. The key to success is offering the fish a quick-and-easy meal they can’t refuse—think of it as putting out a bowl of candy—making it a great time to deadstick a suspended baited lure. Simply set your rod in a holder and watch the tip. As soon as it bends, grab the rod and set the hook.

In a shelter, try a slip-bobber with small soft-plastics

The warmth of an ice shelter also lets you use an in-line slip bobber, another excellent way to suspend a tantalizing offering over the fish. Perch will often suck in the bait, causing the bobber to sink. Or they may grab the lure and swim upwards, causing the bobber to fall over. In either case, set the hook and start reeling.

Sitting tight in a shelter also gives you the opportunity to observe your quarry, which can provide some surprising lessons on how to adapt your offering. Several years ago, for example, my son and I set up camp over a group of midday perch, which we could see on our underwater camera. We couldn’t get them to bite, however, until we saw them picking up minnows from the sand that had fallen off our lures. Taking our cue, we started letting our offerings also sit on bottom. Then whenever we saw perch inhale our minnows, we’d set the hook before even feeling the bite.