Some of the best perch lakes in the entire country are right here in Minnesota and includes Mille Lacs, Leech, and Winnie to be sure. They have the right makeup to produce numbers of big perch and do it year after year.
Right now of the three mentioned Leech might be considered the hottest with buckets of 10-to 13-inch perch being caught.
Finding midwinter perch isn’t all that difficult and is a matter of drilling some holes and covering ground. Good starting spots include deep gravel humps and mud flats on Mille Lacs and shoreline sand breaks and offshore humps and bars on Leech and Winnie.
Starting spots are just that and may not be where you end the day.
The thing is if you’re on them they bite. If not; they don’t. They don’t bite and they don’t even show up on a depth finder so keep moving until you start hooking a few.
And small fish aren’t the answer either as they can be anywhere and everywhere. Perch school by size and if you’re catching nothing but small fries it’s time to pick up and move. On my Humminbird Ice 597ci the small ones show up as thin green marks. The better perch show up as thicker red marks and are what you’re looking for.
If you’re working a hump or reef; try fishing the top, sides, or 10 or 20 yards or more off the side in deeper water. Same thing goes for the shoreline breaks. You never know where they are for sure so be prepared to cover it all.
The good thing is it really doesn’t take very long to figure out if you’re barking up the wrong tree. If you’re in the right area you should see and catch fish within 15 minutes or so.
If not; time to move on and drill some more holes.
A power auger makes a huge difference when you’re trying to make some moves and I wouldn’t leave home without it. I’ve had the chance to run the new Ion electric auger this year and have been drilling all of my holes with it because it’s light, easy to use, and cuts just as fast as gas augers.
One of the hottest tickets for hooking up with eye popping jumbos includes spooning, and lots of it.
Smaller spoons like an eighth ounce Buck-Shot Dropper Spoon can be downright deadly and why I’m always using at least one rod rigged with a spoon. The Dropper Spoon is a unique bait that has a built in rattle and a short dropper with a single colored hook that you can tip with a smaller minnow or maybe a waxie. It’s a finesse presentation that gets down the hole fast and can trigger fish that are a little bit finicky. See you on the ice.
Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.