Ontario Fishing Network E-Magazine

Ontario Fishing Network

Volume 11,  Issue 6- June 2011

Previous Page | Next Page | Front Page

Rigging Options for Early Season Yellow Perch
by Will Nalley

Understanding temperature is critical to the timing of the yellow perch arrival to annual spawning grounds in spring. Perch begin arriving as waters warm to 6-7 degrees Celsius (43-45 degrees Fahrenheit) , seeking out relatively shallow water (4-8ft) and soft bottoms with remnants of last years vegetation.

Traditional approaches to catching yellow perch in spring include tried and tested methods of rigging your line. Presentation options include suspending various baits, such as small minnows or dew worms, using a variety of floats.
Using live bait has its place, and there are some times when fish will accept no substitute. As always exceptions to the rule exist, and when fishing is hot, it’s possible to more than double your catch by using modified rigging options with the wide range of artificial baits available.

PerchRig Mod 1
Traditionally, float fishing rigs consist of straight monofilament and a fixed float which are held in place by passing the through the float, or securing the float using small pieces of rubber tubing. The key to the first rigging modification involves the same two key components, but refinements include a clear plastic slip float and a fluorocarbon leader. A slip float can be adjusted easily to accommodate fishing nearly any depth of water. Fluorocarbon has low light refractivity (ability to reflect light) and nearly disappears under water providing a real benefit to this modification. This property allows the use of heavier (8-10lb test), more resistant to abrasion and the occasional bonus northern pike. Lastly, fluorocarbon is denser than monofilament which aids in sinking your presentation vertically to its intended depth more quickly than mono, which can help you spend more time in the strike zone during each cast. The leader is connected to the main line using either a small quality barrel swivel, or use back to back uni-knots or a blood knot to make the connection. The length of leader is dependent on the depth of water you’ll be fishing, but as a general rule, a 2-3 foot lead of fluorocarbon will cover most situations. The business end of your float rig need only include a lightweight lead head jig. Jigs in the 1/64” to 1/8” should cover the range of fishing situations encountered. Although the use of small splitshot along the length of the fluorocarbon leader is commonplace, using only a jig head to present your bait is less troublesome for tangling around the tall vegetation and shrubs that are common to shorebound anglers.

Determine the depth of the area you are fishing by starting with a long lead – make your cast, and adjust your presentation until your bait is suspended slightly above bottom without getting snagged on bottom and float is suspending your presentation perfectly. This is determined when the float is in an upright position. Although this process can be tedious and may require many fine adjustments, the investment in paying attention to the little things will pay dividends by allowing you to make the best presentation possible. To deliver your presentation, make a long cast letting the float rig settle vertically. Slowly reel in line in conjunction with a short jigging motion using the rod, while effectively swimming in your float and jig. Stop - let the presentation settle and repeat. The movement imparted by reeling and jigging draws attention to your bait. Perch will usually strike when the float settles. Pay attention to any subtle changes in the way the float settles – when fish are light biting, you need to be a hair trigger in order to catch light biters.

Rig Mod 2
The dropshot rig is commonplace in bass fishing but is equally effective for finding and hooking perch. The basic rig is simple. This rig is most practical for fishing areas that are not heavily vegetated and full of snags. The sinker is tied to the end of the line, a hook is affixed to the mainline (12-14 inches up) using a Palomar knot (keeps the hook shank away from the mainline). In this modified rig, substitute in a 24” length of fluorocarbon to which the hook and sinker are attached. Depending on the bottom composition, you may choose one sinker design over another. It pays to have a selection of sinker designs and sizes options available, including the standard bell sinker, several large split shot, or one of the no-snag options such as the ‘slinky’ designed for use in snag infested waters. The depth in which you’re fishing, will dictate how heavy of a weight to use.

The dropshot rig is particularly effective in finding fish, determining bottom composition and is very sensitive. Cast and let the rig settle. Use a dragging motion to retrieve your bait. Pause every few feet and jig the bait on a semi-taut line to the sinker. Continue these steps until you connect with fish. If you’re drifting in a boat, it’s key to keep contact with the bottom at all times. If you cannot stay in contact, make adjustments to the amount of weight until the weight of the sinker bouncing along the bottom is consistent. When perch bite, drop anchor and fish the area thoroughly by fan casting the area.

Perch FishingBait Options
It’s never a bad idea to have live bait on hand. A selection of garden worms, dew worms, and small minnows can turn a slow day into a productive one but more often than not, artificial baits get the nod. Scent enhanced baits in many colors, shaped like fish fry, maggots, and minnow heads provide all the fish catching power you need. Always keep a selection of small 2” plastic tubes and twister tails. Productive colours include but are not limited to yellow, orange, white, red, and purple. Dark browns and blacks are often overlooked where perch key in on small crayfish and invertebrates.

Before You Go
Much of the leg work associated with determining where and when to catch fish starts at home. Utilize fishing websites and research popular spring fishing destinations. Applications such as Google Earth are priceless tools for determining ac
cess points to lakes and rivers but always use caution and make sure to avoid trespassing. Study the weather, and visit the fishing areas you intend to try often. Invest in a small thermometer and take a drive during the early season to determine what the temperature is like in your favourite bays, creeks, and rivers. Recording details of your reconnaissance can help identify key times to fish in following years. This record will provide a means of predicting the best fishing times in and provide a tool for observing trends. Lastly, do your homework - consult the internet to learn as much as you can about perch biology. All of your hard work will keep you in the catch, with a meal as your well deserved reward after a long winter.

Get North!
Stressed? need a vacation?  Visit Get North to find your Northern Ontario get-away!

Fishing Lodge Classifieds
Come fish your heart out at one of these many Lodges, Camps and Resorts.