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Lac Des Iles - A Great Place to Fish!
My bud Bart. who is a fixture around here, has fished Northerns all over Saskatchewan. His biggest releases have always been here. Don't ask him where - ha ha! Incredible Walleye have been caught on this lake as well. With a lot of luck you may catch a "Wallamina" on your first trip , but generally it takes time to "learn" the lake - it's not a bowl. Lake Des Iles has underwater springs, 100 foot drop offs, sunken islands and a river channel running right through the lake. The record Saskatchewan Perch is listed as 2 pds 7.4 onces. I've seen bigger. On a crazy busy summer day, a guest once gave me a glimpse of one that his kid had caught. I'm sure it t was close to 3 pounds! Later I asked him about it. He told me it was delicious!
Catch and Release: We like catch and release anglers, catch a few for a fish fry up but let the big ones go. If you land a "big one" or your kid lands a "great" one, email us a photo! You may just end up on our "Release Hall of Fame". We no longer freeze fish. Catch what you can eat and let the in-laws catch their own.
Lac Des Iles is home to 3 main angling species, Northern Pike, Walleye and Perch. For more information click on one of these three fish
Lac Des Iles is 18 km by 4, with lots of bays, islands and under water structure. Where do you go?
The fish on the map will get you started: click on our colour map to download our fishing map or
A Few Fish Facts about Lac Des Iles:
Ice Out: Fishing Northerns right after ice out is incredible. The big girls are spawning and very protective of their roe. They spawn in the shallow waters of Rangers Bay and beware any fish (or hook) that comes near. Toss a floating lure anywhere near them and you might just watch the water explode! I've been watching the ice go out in the spring for 25 years and yes "Ice Out" is nip and tuck with the May Long Weekend, but if you hit it right - wahoo! Most years the ice goes out between the 10th and 16th of May, so booking a fishing trip can be a bit risky, but then the great things in life do require some risk. If you are not a risk taker, Northern Cross does offer an "Ice Out Guarantee". I will email you on the Thursday before the Long Weekend and update you. If I feel the ice will still be on the lake, we will refund 1/2 of your deposit or you can move your dates to a later date (if available). Who else out there offers that?
Fishing Walleye: Fishing Walleye in Lac Des Iles requires "knowledge". Walleye have eyes on the side of their head. Northerns eyes face upward, so to the safest place to be if you're a Walleye is below them, so you need to find the holes and drop offs. And the best way to find them in a hole is to jib or bait fish Walleye with a leach or a worm. Trolling a lure will likely land you a Northern. After the big Northerns spawn in the bays and the water starts to warm up, they head out into the main lake on mass. The Walleye then move into the bays and try to eat as much Northern roe as possible, before they hatch and grow up trying to eat them. In the summer you will have to fish Walleye in the main lake, where they hang out in much deeper water. Look for a spot where a creek has created an underwater channel in the bank, a hole where they can avoid a Northerns upward facing eyes or a sunken island where they can see a Northern coming. It takes a bit of knowledge and patience, but a 9 pound Walleye is worth the wait.
Catching that Jumbo Perch: I've seem many a 1/2 pound perch in the stomach of a Northern, so again for a long life a perch needs to avoid the Northerns. The best way for them to do that is find a hole and wait for food to come to them. The big jumbos don't hang with the smaller perch, so if you drift into a perch hole and catch a big one, there will be other big perch in the area. Catch a small one and they will all be that size. Once the Northerns move out of the bays for colder deeper water, fish the shallow bays. Don't give them too much worm or they will snack on it and avoid the hook. Over the summer, kids catch juveniles right off the dock. You can't eat them but the kids have fun while you're relaxing.
Our Northern Pike: The Cold River runs in and the Waterhen runs out of Lac Des Iles. The current runs right through the lake so our Northerns are unlike anything that you might catch in a southern lake. Firm meat and a big fight! Our kids actually prefer Northerns to Walleye. The most important thing to learn in order to enjoy a nice Northern on the fire, is how to fillet them so that you get the "Y" bone out. Nothing like a fresh Northern. Don't be shy, if I'm not busy I can give you a lesson in de-boning or ask someone at the filleting shack - most folks will be glad to show you (just pay attention and practice - they won't want to clean all your catch).
Purchasing a Saskatchewan Fishing License:
If you plan on fishing for more than 3 consecutive days then your will need an annual license:
$37.00 for a Saskatchewan resident (you must be paying your income taxes to Saskatchewan and have a Saskatchewan Health Care Card - paying property taxes on your summer cabin does not count); $75.00 for an out of province resident;
$100.00 for a non-resident Canadian.
If you're going to be fishing in Saskatchewan on more than one trip or if weather conditions don't concern you, save valuable fishing time and hassle by purchasing a license on-line by clicking on the LICENSE link on the centre right.
Northern Saskatchewan doesn't offer a one day license, so you will need to purchase a 3 day license:
$19.00 for a Saskatchewan resident;
$40.00 for an out of province;
$50.00 for a non-resident.
With a 3 day license you will be "weather dependent", so wait and check the weather by clicking on the WEATHER NETWORK link on the lower right before you head to the lake or wait until you arrive and purchase on with your smart phone, iPad or laptop. Then come to the store with your email and password and we can print it off for you.
To download the 2019 Saskatchewan Fishing Regulation click on the ANGLERS GUIDE link on the upper right. Things you should know:
1) an Alberta License only works on the Saskatchewan side of Cold Lake;
2) Saskatchewan does allow barbed hooks (please have a mouth opener and good needle nose pliers so that you can release fish);
3) Conservation Officers will be "cracking down" on out of province folks bringing leaches and worms into Saskatchewan this summer;
4) Saskatchewan does not allow live minnows, smelts or gold fish - you may bring frozen bait into Saskatchewan;
5) the Walleye limit on Lac Des Iles is 3 as opposed to the general limit of 4;
6) Saskatchewan has a one big fish limit - Pike 75 cm or 29.5 inches - Walleye 55 cm or 21.5 inches (we prefer if you let these spawners go);
7) Saskatchewan doesn't have a lower size limit (let the little ones go to grow up, they are hard to clean anyways);
and overall, be respectful and only catch what your intend to eat (hopefully at fish fry up at your cabin or campsite). Now get rigged up and head to the lake for some excitement!
Lac Des Iles is home to some monster Northern Pike. The biggest I've seen recently was roughly 48 inches or 25 lbs (left), the biggest credible release that I've heard about was 54 inches or close to 30 lbs. Boy, have I heard some tales! From having the boat spun around, to a fish so big it was impossible to land. Realistically, most people are not equipped to handle anything over 20 pounds. To land a 30 pound fish you need a lot of luck, skill and some major equipment - 10 pound line and a Department Store Fishing Rod won't cut it.
Northern Pike Fishing Tips from Will Ryan
"All fish are predators but northern pike come dressed for the part: needle teeth, vacant eyes, serpentine shape. They haven't changed in 60 million years. Pike belong to the northern wilderness, where they remain most common. May and June are definitely the best months to target pike at Lac Des Iles. Recuperated from spawning, they prowl the shallows for baitfish. With little in the way of weed growth, the northerns don't have all that many ambushing spots. They haven't seen a lure in six months. In short, spring pike fishing is as good as it gets." Will Ryan - Field and Stream
LEAVE THE 4X AT HOME
Pike will bite through regular mono filament, so you always need to use a heavy leader of some sort. 20 or 30-pound, 12-inch black wire leaders are standard, except when you're using floating plugs (because the weight interferes with the action). For these, get the shortest wire that you can—usually 6 inches—or make your own from 12 inches of 30-pound mono tied to a snap at one end and a swivel at the other.
KEEP YOUR DISTANCE
As tempting as it might be, don't offer a pike any public display of affection, not even a quick peck. Some 10 years ago, an overjoyed Russian ice fisherman did just that, and the pike clamped onto his nose and had to be "surgically removed" at the local hospital.
PACK THE PLIERS
Pike won't just bite line, so watch your fingers when you're handling them. If the pike is under 10 pounds, you can grip it across the back of the head, behind the eye, or over the back of the gill plate. Bigger pike should be netted and subdued with a firm grip while in the net. Needle-nose pliers are a must; jaw spreaders can come in handy. Pinch down the barbs of your lures to expedite extractions and release those big fish!
SIX LURES YOU SHOULD USE:
Whichever lure you choose, white, yellow, and chartreuse are great pike lure colors, probably because they resemble the belly of a struggling food fish.
1. IN-LINE SPINNER: In early spring, before weed growth becomes a factor, focus on covering water. The bigger spinners are a top choice here because the weight lets you cast them farther afield and the blades throw more flash. Retrieve the spinner steadily, just fast enough to keep it off the bottom. Think Rooster Tail, Mepps, and Blue Fox spinners in 1/6- to 1-ounce sizes.
2. SPOON: Start by steadily and slowly reeling, just fast enough to keep the spoon wobbling. If that doesn't produce, try a flutter /retrieve, accomplished by utilising a jigging motion as you reel. Spoons are particularly effective along drop offs because you can precisely control the depth. Try Len Thompson or Lucky Strike spoons, like 5 of Diamonds, Red and White or Green Frog weighing ¼to 1 ounce.
3. MINNOW-IMITATING PLUG: Begin with a steady retrieve. If that doesn't work, try stop-and-start reeling. Early in the season, use a shallow runner. As waters warm up, go to a crank bait or a soft-plastic swim bait that runs in the 10-foot range. You've got plenty to choose from here: the Rapala Original, Rattling Rap, Shad Rap, Storm Wild-Eye pike or walleye.
4. SPINNER BAIT: Draw a spinner bait past sprouting weeds and stop the retrieve for a three count just as the bait approaches a possible hideout. Add a twist-tail or rubber-worm trailer for action and color contrast. Models abound. If I had to use only one pike lure, it would be a white spinner bait with a trailer. If it's overcast, try a bait with a chartreuse skirt.
5. JIG AND WORM: As the temperature in the shallows reaches 60 degrees, pike begin to set up shop along 6- to 10-foot drop offs. These are best fished with a jig in full, 2-to 3-foot hops. Pike often take the jig as it drops; the strike may feel like a nibble or a perch bite. It's not. Use buck tail and twin tail jigs in the ¼- to 1-ounce range.
6. SURFACE PLUG: In late spring, fish top water lures over weed beds in the calm water of morning or late afternoon. Over the years the combination of a slim minnow shape and propeller fuss has been the most productive for me. Tie on a large (4½- to 6-inch) Lucky Strike Wooden Plug or a Storm Chug Bug.
RODS, REELS, AND LINE
For our big Northerns, 10 to 20 pounds (and occasionally more), choose spinning outfits that handle 14 to 20 pound test, medium to heavy bait casting rigs that can handle 17 to 20 pound test, or 9 weight fly rods.
To catch the eating size, 3 to 7 pound northerns, you have to convince a nervous 25 incher that the plug sputtering across the surface really is a wounded perch. Use 6 to 10 pound test spinning gear, light or medium bait casting outfits with 12 to 14 pound test, or a 7-weight fly rod.
HOW TO READ A PIKE BAY
Mouths of swampy inlets make good starting points, but you'll probably catch more pike in the flats just offshore. Find one where the depth is 3 to 10 feet. Pike might have traveled up the inlet to spawn and will now be drifting out into the bay. These flats serve as staging spots for spawning perch or bait-fish.
Ice-out pike gravitate to secondary coves, areas that warm before the main bay. In fact, pike might have spawned in the marshy shallows or flooded timber at the edges of such spots. Fish the flats at the mouths of these coves with in-line spinners.
Prominent shoreline structures, beaver dams or downed trees, always deserve at least a few casts. Work your way in combing the flats in front with an in-line spinner. Choose one of our many beaches as a good spot for lunch; cast out a bobber and minnow and relax.
As the spring sun warms the bay, weeds grow and pike orient to cover near drop offs. Weedy points make particularly good fishing spots, as do mid-bay weed shoals. Search adjacent waters with an in-line spinner, flutter-retrieve a spoon, or stop and start a spinner bait along the edges of the weeds. If the water is calm, try your top water lures.
Deeper weed lines with access to deep water are the last spots on the spring tour. Find the 6- to 10-foot break. In general, pike over 10 pounds are the first to vacate the shallows for cooler water. This edge is the spot to try a jig and worm, or perhaps to flutter-retrieve a spoon.
Saskatchewan does not allow the use of live bait, but frozen minnows can be just as successful. Big-Zee and Candle Lake Shiners are available at most bait shops and you can buy shiners at most Super Stores. They all work ok, but only if you present them properly - a good rig that presents the frozen minnow in the most life-like manner is key.
When you're fishing near a prominent obstruction, around the mouth of a tributary or over weeds, using a bobber is a good approach (you want it as small as possible to minimize the resistance when a pike takes the bait and runs). Rig a bait in the 6 to 12 inch range on a size 1/0 hook, with a snelled wire leader attached to a snap-swivel. Position the float so that it holds the bait, hooked lightly through the back, a foot or two above the weeds. Give the pike a couple of minutes to turn the bait around in its mouth before you set the hook.
Cover long sections of definable structures such as weed edges, drop-offs, or shorelines. A 6-inch minnow hooked through the lips with a size 1 hook is about right. Match the sinker weight to the speed of the drift and the depth,starting with a single light split shot and adding until you hit bottom or fish. When you get a bite, drop the rod tip, open the bail, give a 10 count, reel in slack and set the hook. You may need to allow extra time with bigger baits, but if you wait too long, the fish will either swallow the hook or feel the sinker catch in the grass as it runs and will drop the bait.
JIG AND MINNOW
Hook a 4-inch minnow through the head, from the bottom to the top. Use a full(2 to 3 foot) but slow jigging motion and be ready for a strike on the fall. When a fish hits, drop the rod tip for a moment, then set the hook hard. Jig-heads in the ¼ to ½ ounce range seem to provide the best minnow action but it's more important to adjust for the depth and speed of the drift.
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Fishing Walleye in a lake with big Northerns is different than fishing a river channel where they are the top predator. You can't just throw out a hook and expect a lake Walleye to come to you - you need to know where the drop offs and holes are. A Walleye wouldn't last long swimming around out in the open with 20 lb plus Northerns around. But with a good depth finder, a keen eye for the lay of the land and a little patience finding that honey hole or drop off is well worth it. The Walleye on the left was a great catch, but we would rather you let these big ones go like my bud Ken (right) but hey a 8 pounder might be a once in a lifetime fish.
These Walleye Tips are adapted to Lac Des Iles from Walleye Heaven:
WALLEYE FISHING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
Using light jigs with a white twistertail and a piece of worm, Walleye gullet, leech, live minnow or salted minnow works best. This is the most popular way to catch high numbers of Walleyes.
In the spring, Walleyes are either in a river current or right close to shore. When I say close to shore, I mean 3 to 10 feet from shore. In Northern Saskatchewan Canadian Shield Lakes, the Walleyes that don't spawn in the river will find sandy areas along the shore to spawn. Walleye spawn just after ice out, but then they will hang around to protect their spawning beds from nasty Northerns for 3 to 4 weeks.
You can put on a light jig (1/8th or 1/16th oz) and cast along the shore and retrieve it quite aggressively as the Walleyes are very aggressive this time of year. Use bright colors like red, chartreuse, yellow or white. Walleyes that are feeding will hit the jig. Walleyes that are not feeding will still hit bright colors because they are defending the spawning grounds and bright colors aggravate them. Generally, white is always the best color.
In the daytime and in early spring, you will most likely catch smaller males, which stay at the spawning beds. The bigger females usually take off into deeper water during the day. If you are going after size instead of numbers, fish off the areas where Walleyes were spawning, in the 10 to 15-foot depth. That's where the big females are.
How do you find that special spot along the shore where the Walleyes are congregating? In the spring, put on a small Original Floating Rapala or Thunderstick and troll really slowly right along the shoreline. The Walleyes will be in 2 to 4 feet of water. Red, Blue, Chartreuse and Fire Tiger are the best colors in the spring. If you keep trolling past a spot and hit Walleyes, then that's where they are. In this case, stop the motor and start casting. Trolling back and forth too many times will spook the area and they will stop feeding.
The stubborn angler who never tries anything new or will not accept the fact that the fishing in a Northern Saskatchewan lake is different, tend to only catch disappointment. In early spring, 95% of the walleyes will be in water shallower than 5 feet. In the afternoon, the big females will go deeper to protect themselves from the sun and Pike.
In the summer the walleyes either go a little deeper, hang out at the mouth of the river or in holes to stay out of sight from big Northerns. Northern Pike have forward and upward facing eyes, so best to stay below them if you're prey. There are also some nice drop offs at the west end of the Big Island and just of the east side of Larson's Point. Lac Des Iles also has a couple of great sunken islands that are great summer Walleye areas. One is between the Big Island and the south shore and the other is just out from Pickerel Point just east of the resort. They are small, so you may need a good depth finder to locate them.
In the summer, Walleyes tend to go after more natural colors like silver, brown, black and white. When fishing with jigs, you can go to a heavier jig like a 3/8-oz or even 1/4-oz depending on how deep you are fishing. The unscented double tail or rubber jig you put on the rig should be these natural colors. Fish in the north do not like scented rubbers. They do like salted rubbers. Frozen minnows are excellent whether on a jig or a strait hook and to improve your odds just add a pinch of salt on your rubber lure.
Hot Days: Sometimes the Walleyes get very lazy in the summer, especially if it's a hot sunny day. Use a 1/8-oz jig and put a white unscented twister tail on. Then cast out and literally drag the jig across the bottom. Give it tiny little jigs (2 or 3 inches) once in a while just to shake off any mud or weeds. This bottom dragging gets the Walleyes feeding. It really works. You should always jig slowly. Just make the jig motion longer in the morning, as the Walleyes are more aggressive. Sharp quick jigs will attract pike. In the afternoon when the Walleyes slow down, put a piece of worm, Walleye gullet or salted minnow on your jig and use the slow bottom drag method and you will start hitting Walleyes again.
Trolling off the rocky points with a Rapala or Thunderstick is also good in the summer. Natural colors like silver or brown seem to work best. If you use bright colors, you will hit tons of pike. In the summer, the Walleyes tend to go a little deeper and stay off rocky points or rocky drop-offs because wave action on the rocks creates more oxygen. Also, bugs and other food floating on the surface tend to get more dense when drifting past a point, which attracts small minnows to feed and the Walleyes feed on the minnows.
HOW TO CATCH BIG TROPHY WALLEYE
Big trophy Walleyes are usually deep during the day and come up into shallow water at night to hunt down minnows along the shore.
In the summer most big Walleyes, especially the big females, will go deep and stay down between 15 to 35 feet deep and they only come to shore at night. During the day, they will move out into open water and feed on suspended schools of Lake Shad & Lake Herring. This is especially true in lakes where the shoreline is a gauntlet of Pike teeth. They like to hang around large rocks or deep weeds on the bottom of the lake where they feel cool and safe.
There are two things you can do. If you are in a bigger boat you can use down riggers or use down-deep Husky Jerks or J-13 down deep jointed Rapalas and troll out in open water. Look for schools of bait fish 20 to 40 yards off rocky points or river mouths. Try fishing 15 to 35 feet deep.
If you are in a small boat and you can troll really slowly, use a 3-way swivel and a 1 or 2-oz weight and back-troll through the schools of bait fish or troll 20 feet deep along the shore and follow the contours of the shoreline. Use a worm harness with a big juicy worm or small floating Rapala.
In the late summer or fall, some of the really big females will come in close to shore at night. So between 10:00 pm and 3:00 am try trolling with an Original Floating Rapala along the shore in 2 or 3 feet of water or troll past rocky shoals. You can also troll along patches of thick weeds out in the lake. The prime areas are where there are lots of minnows swimming around the weeds that offer them protection from the sun. For some reason blue is the magic color for fishing along the shore at night in summer. In the spring you can use other colors like Fire-Tiger, Red or Chartreuse. You have to troll your boat very slowly and you have to be quiet. Evening and nighttime is when the biggest Walleyes are feeding.
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Lac Des Iles is well known for it's Jumbo Perch. Two pounders can be found in her back bays. The most important thing about catching big perch is to be patient. Use your instincts and scout out a potential perch area and then drift into it, stay quiet and cast out a line. Don't move off after a few minutes - give it at least 15 minutes. They are easily spooked and wary of Northerns lurking in the area. You will have to use a light line and a light rod to feel them nibbling, so don't be surprised if a Northern latches on to your perch jig and rips it off. If this happens, move on. The perch will have vacated the area for safer grounds. If you land a nice perch, be quiet, bring it in and cast again as they are a schooling fish.
Perch Fishing on Lac Des Iles (excerpt from John A. Vance)
Remember when you were a kid - and loved to go perch fishing? No pressure, no fancy and costly equipment, just simple fun?
Many anglers and even some of the 'pro' fisher-folk are again rediscovering the yellow perch. This pristine flavored fish found in the back bays of Lac Des Iles allows many anglers to shed some of the stress associated with the fast pace of today's society and as little actual equipment is needed, the 'lowly' perch is easily within most people's grasp!
Indeed, many of us just want to go fishing for the fun of it. Perch fishing allows one to go fishing, catch some of the finest and most delicately flavored fish we have, with no pressure, without thousands of dollars of 'hi-tech' equipment - AND HAVE A BALL! Perch fishing offers us a chance to roll away the years and for that brief fishing excursion at least, be a 'kid' again and have some excellent eating to boot!
Perch can be caught at any time of the year and are usually willing biters provided we can get our small bait in front of them. Lac Des Iles is known for it's big perch that can reach 2 pounds. They are often found hanging out together in the slightly deeper water. The big ones tend to not hang around their smaller brethren or should I say the little ones stay away from the jumbos. Perch are predators too and tend to have a cannibalistic streak.
Perch can be caught without a lot of expensive equipment. The cool clear waters of Lac Des Iles offer everyone a great opportunity to catch a few perch for a meal of the finest eating fish available anywhere. On our lake, the south shore is too shallow for shore casting, so unless you use hip waders, a belly boat or a boat, your success will be limited. Kids do catch a few small ones off the dock, but they are generally to small to eat.
THE YELLOW PERCH:
Yellow perch are, for the most part, aggressive biters. The best places on Lac Des Iles to catch nice perch are in the reeds just south of the mouth of Rangers Bay or if you hang a quick right after you enter Ranger Bay, go through the narrows and enter Ozzie Bay, here you will find a great weed bed on the west side. If you have a shallow running boat you can either travel south into Long Bay or northwest into Lost Bay. After a bit of very shallow water you will find some great honey holes. Just be aware that you may pick up some weeds on your prop, so make sure you shut the motor off, lift the motor and keep your eyes open. Another great spot if you have a shallow running boat is to travel south once you enter Ranger Bay, find the south shore and then head east through the narrow gap into Hidden Bay, then look for holes and cast a line out. Look for clear 'fishable' spots just off weedbeds, etc, where you can toss a line without too much interference with weeds. Usually there are such places, even in the worst weed-choked shorelines. Breaks/holes in a bed of lily pads, water millfoil are especially appealing, if you can find them. Once you find a nice hole, be patient. The noise of your outboard will spook them at first. Stick around. Don't keep moving.
When fishing for perch, bear in mind that these fish, like their larger cousin the Walleye, are schooling fish (for the most part), and are 'migratory' so move around quite a lot. You could be fishing an area without even a nibble, then have a school of perch move in and whammo- fish-on! If you catch one perch, you are very likely to catch more, simply because they are a schooling fish. The secret, once fish 'move in', get that bait/hook back into the water as quickly as you can. Just as perch 'move in' they'll also 'move out' and your fishing success may go quiet again for a while.
You will find however, that some perch populations, especially in smaller bays, may not school up a lot. These fish are the exceptions to the general perch population. These more solitary fish can be caught easily though once you've found the depth that they are in, stay within that same depth during the whole trip out and cover territory by trying various places in the area.
I like to use light tackle for perch, and (one of) the nicest, most sensitive set-ups is a one piece five foot ultra light rod, rigged with a light, matching, open faced spinning reel, sporting either two or four lb. test line. If Pike or Walleye lurk in the same waters you are going to fish, it would be best to use the four lb test line, being sure you have the reel drag set lightly enough to accommodate one of these heavy-weights if they hit your bait!
Ultra light 'long' rod(s) can also be a sporting rig to use, especially if it is the lightest you can find in an eight foot, and even a nine foot rod would be fine. Longer rods sometimes allow an angler advantages over the shorter rod when using 'pre set' bobber (often called 'stop bobbers') or split shot arrangement. This stop bobber arrangement is where one 'fixes' the depth of their rig at a certain depth, and this 'set' depth doesn't change. To fish with this set-up simply either gently cast a short distance, or just let this outfit dangle in the water below the rod tip, moving the bait/hook location by moving the rod tip to a new location.
For terminal tackle, including bobbers, fish hooks and weight, use size 6 hooks and just enough weight to get the rig down to bottom. Perch can be aggressive biters or perhaps better described as willing biters and at other times they are incredibly finicky and will bite very lightly. Perch will hit a bait/hook set up much more aggressively and quickly, without hesitation, if the bait/hook offering is not overly large.
Use a slip bobber (one half inch in diameter). Go online or ask a friend and learn how to use a slip bobber, they open a whole new realm of fishing. Use small size 6 hooks, unsnelled, never use the gold or nickel plated hooks because they don't break down as easily in a fish's digestive system if you loose the hook/fish. The bronze hooks break down within a couple of weeks in a fish's gut and are not usually fatal, they're much cheaper too!
Often, due to either current or water depth, or an obstinate minnow, we will need weight. Use either a slider weights or egg sinkers, easily available at most bait/tackle shops locally and these are also some of the least expensive weights to use as well. Use only one weight stackers on the rig and a short foot long fluorocarbon leader next to the hook/lure/bait. You can also use a weighted jig head - as long as it isn't too big nor heavy!
ATTRACTOR HOOKS AND BEADS
Use small attractor hooks, both weighted (most often) and occasionally unweighted. These allow for a colorful offering and enough hook left to tag on a piece of worm, minnow maggot or grub - all excellent perch bait. The idea is that the added flash and zip the color adds will attract fish from further away, once the fish gets closer and sees the 'real' bait 'tagged' onto the hook they will, without hesitation, hit the bait/hook set up - FISH-ON! Also use the small jig hooks (1/32 oz.) and the very small twister tails and tube jigs available. You can also tag on a small piece of bait and maybe a florescent bead or two. These amount to much the same principle as attractor hooks. This rig can also be used under a slip bobber.
Once you're at your desired fishing location, simply bait up, cast out, and wait. Don't disturb the area too much by rummaging around. After the line/bait has set for several minutes, gently 'trigger' the line with your finger at the reel. This is done by gently, with a sort of tapping motion - tap/trigger the line. Don't overdo this - even though you think that you aren't doing much because of the line out and underwater currents etc, your bait/hook will be moving quite a bit from this simple process. If nothing happens doing this, wind in the line only about two to three feet max, then allow the bait to remain motionless again for a couple of minutes and then do the 'triggering' thing again. Repeat this process until the line is almost right back to the boat/stream bank where you are fishing. If you do catch a perch, be quick to re-bait up and get the bait back into the water quickly, you have to keep their attention or the school of perch may drift off and you'll be out of fish.
It's important to always pay attention to the area and more importantly the depth at which you've caught perch. Perch will often be found in/at a favored depth, which is likely at a water temperature they prefer. This is especially important in the hot summer months. Try to get your bait back into the water and at the same depth at which you caught your first perch of the day. Perch rarely suspend and are primarily a bottom feeder. I often use a small tag of crawler, leach or other grub as live bait on my hook or jig. This can be small and if you do not have access to a piece of live bait, the Berkely Gulp baits are superb, in a pinch!
In the summer, the Perch favored depth will likely be deeper than in the spring as Perch favour shallow water in the spring. Normally fish for perch in water that may be anywhere from six feet deep to fifteen feet deep. For the most part, stick to the shallower waters and you'll catch more fish and have a lot more fun.
Don't be afraid to try various jigging actions, baits and colors of attractor hooks or jigs; some days perch will 'hit' one color and not another. Generally though, the favorite colors are: yellow, chartreuse, fuchsia, white, black, florescent pink or red and various combinations of these colors.
In the summer, use larger pieces of bait, about a half of a night crawler( or less), large grubs and live minnows about one and a half inches long( as a max). I use these in conjunction with attractor hooks or jig head set-ups.
GENERAL PERCH TIPS:
1/ Use needle sharp hooks, and carry a hook hone in your tackle box.
2/ Use small bait size/pieces - the smallest bait that you can get away with, perch don't hit huge pieces of bait as a rule.
3/ Use a short sharp snap, but not a wicked jerk, when setting the hook.
4/ Use the lightest line and the smallest hooks and split shot that you can handle. If fishing deeper water, then you should consider using one of the newer fine braided lines such as Spider Wire. This will transmit a bite back to you better in very deep water or where you have a lot of line out.
5/ Use 'perch eyes' for bait only when you are into a school of perch. Other baits are much better to first attract them into your area.
6/ Use attractor hooks and florescent beads where possible, they'll give you that extra bit of color and zip needed to draw perch from a few feet further away, especially in muddy/turbid water.
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