Outdoors column: Mining for jumbos under the ice

It’s that time of the year and things have definitely slowed a down a bit, at least when it comes to walleye fishing. Perch, on the other hand, start to pick up the pace and is when some of the season’s best catches are made. That doesn’t mean the fish will be everywhere and that they will always bite, but the chances of running into some willing to cooperate goes way up.

The key to it all is location because right now if you find them you will catch at least a few.

The author went hole hopping for this dandy late ice jumbo.
The author went hole hopping for this dandy late ice jumbo. Submitted Photo

It’s not always easy to put a finger on it because there is usually more than one pattern going and includes deeper basin areas and rocky bars.

Structure fish are a lot easier to find than those running the deeper flats because there is going be a lot less of it but basin fish tend to run much bigger on average and may be your best bet for icing numbers of true jumbos.

The big draw for basin running perch is bug beds, which are typically found along a softer bottom in deeper water.

The bugs are mayflies in a larval stage that have become big enough for perch to key on, and boy do they ever. The hard part is finding the beds, which can be just about anywhere, and is really a matter of finding the fish. The program includes drilling a hole or two and then dropping down a suitable bait like a smaller jigging spoon tipped with a waxie and then watching your depth finder to see if anything comes in for a look.

On my Humminbird Ice 597ci the bigger perch will show up as thick red marks (just like a good walleye would) and if they’re not red, they’re not what I’m after.

The thing is if you’re on the fish at least a few will bite. If nothing comes in and takes the bait you’re not on ‘em so keep moving. When you do pick up a fish or two it would be a good idea to drill more holes to expand your search and see if you can narrow down the heaviest concentrations of fish.

Another thing to keep in mind is the fact perch stay on the move and can come and go just like that, so it would be a good idea to do some hole hopping when it starts to slow down. See you on the ice.

Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.