Just to make sure we are on the same page when learning how to fish, it should be noted that there can be some confusion with common fish names. There are some places in the south especially that any sunfish may be called a “perch.” However, when most anglers say “perch,” they mean the yellow perch. Northern pike, a fellow cold-water species, often are shortened to the first part of their common name: “northerns.” But, I’ve yet to hear anyone continue with the first part of the common name format and say that they wanted to go on fishing for “yellows.”
Yellow perch are mainly found in the Northeast but have been stocked as far south as Kansas and Missouri. They are relatively small. If your catch exceeds the common 8-11 inch range, it earns the title “jumbo.” Perch ice fishing is tremendously popular because they remain actively feeding in the winter and are highly prized as table fare.
1. Drop bait near the bottom.
Any list of ice fishing tips for perch will describe a wide variety of ice fishing techniques and ice fishing perch rigs. Part of this reason for this diversity is that these fish can be caught on almost any small live bait available when fishing for perch in winter such as minnows, night crawlers, and mealworms. If lacking depth/fish finding electronics, ice fishing tips for perch recommend starting near the bottom.
2. Make perch come to you…
Patience is an important part of how to ice fish for perch. It can be tricky to know if the yellow perch will come to you or if you need to go to them. If your bait remains ignored near the bottom, you may need to experiment with shallower depths because these fish may be suspended. Ice fishing tips for perch often include jigging a small spoon off the bottom to stir up enough silt to make fish investigate. And if you can interest one, others are sure to follow.
3. Or you go to the perch.
Even though they commonly roam, often on large shallow flats, perch ice fishing may involve drilling many holes to help locate active fish, or areas where fish may soon arrive. Once one fish is convinced, the activity often fires up an entire school.
And never overlook ice safety for any perch ice fishing setup. Be sure to include all of the safety equipment such as life jackets, ice cleats, ice picks, cell phone, and everything you need to stay warm.