The perch is one of the most common fish in North America. It’s relatively small, usually only reaching a length of 15 inches and a weight of just over 2 pounds, but it’s very delicious and is a favorite in many restaurants. This freshwater fish is most likely to be found in the Mississippi River; the Great Lakes, freshwater in the Midwest, Northeast, and Northwest portions of the United States; and freshwater areas of Quebec, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia, in Canada.
Location, Location, Location
Now that you know how common perch are in freshwater, you should also know the specifics on when and where to catch them. The end of summer through the beginning of spring is the ideal time of year to fish for perch. Perch are not generally active at night, but they do feed during the daylight hours. The best time of day to go perch fishing is around sunrise or sunset.
It’s pretty easy to locate the best water spots for perch. They tend to hang out in shallow water when the weather is warm, and they head for deeper waters when it’s cold. Perch are often found near the bottom of rivers and lakes. Therefore, your best bet is to fish in open waters when it’s cold, since they seek out deeper water, and fish from the shore when it’s warm, when perch can usually be found in more shallow water. You’re more likely to hook a larger perch if you’re fishing straight down in deep water, while the smaller perch are usually found in the shallow waters. If you are fishing in shallow waters, look for natural underwater structures that allow vegetation to grow. This is where the bait fish hang out, and thus, this is where you’ll find the perch.
For perch fishing, it’s a good idea to invest in a fishfinder. Not only will a fishfinder help you locate underwater structures that are a preferred location for perch, but perch are school fish, and a fishfinder will enable you to detect a large group of fish. That eliminates the guesswork of whether a location is a good one. Until you locate a school of fish, change locations frequently. Don’t waste time in an area where perch aren’t biting.
What You’ll Need to Catch Perch
You really don’t need specialized fishing tackle to catch perch. A basic rod and reel will work just as easily as a more expensive one. An ultra-light open or closed spinning reel might be helpful, though. If you’re fly fishing, a good recommendation is a lightweight rod made of fiberglass or graphite. The rod should be 7-8 feet long. A good line is a light, monofilament line, in the 4-8 pound test weight range.
Live Bait or Lures?
Perch are best caught with live bait. The best live bait is crayfish, but minnows work well when you’re fishing in cool water, and night crawlers are the best for fishing in warm water. It’s important to use a smaller hook because perch have smaller mouths than other fish. Perch are notorious for biting and leaving with bigger hooks. When you’re removing the hook and rebaiting, the more quickly you can do it, the better, since perch are school fish and travel in groups.
You can definitely fish for perch with lures, too. The lures should be small and lightweight, with bright flashy colors to attract the attention of the fish. Good choices of lures include lead heads, poppers, and lightweight jigs. Again, use small lures, since perch have small mouths.
Perch are among the most common fish to be caught in North America. These suggestions will help you improve your chances of catching this tasty fish.