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Hot Techniques for Eye’ Popping Perch
By Ron Anlauf

Late winter is the perfect time for chasing jumbo perch. By then the walleye fishing can slow down, (maybe way down) so why not keep a good thing going and make a switch to a fish that keeps on biting, and biting. It’s not that big eye poppin’ perch suddenly turn on and go on a mad rampage as there are some good catches made all season long. It’s just that by late ice they’re more likely to be bunched up and the odds of finding at least a few that are in the right mood greatly increases. During the hard water period there are seasonal movements that can lead perch from shallow water to deep, and back again. The thing is; after the earliest part of the season most of the action is hit and miss. The mega schools you can run into at first ice seem to bust up and you’re more likely to find little wolf packs of perch here and there, and the action becomes a lot more sporadic. However, by late ice those little packs come together and start to show up in masse and can be found holding along shoreline related structure like hard bottom breaks and drop offs. Other key areas are main lake basins and soft bottom flats out in the middle of nowhere. If the truth be known structure fish are a lot easier to find than those running the flats. On the other hand; flat fish tend to run much bigger on average, and may be your best bet for icing numbers of true jumbos. Structure gives you a starting point and is something to key on when you start looking from scratch.

Ron Anlauf used a red hot technique to nail this late winter jumbo

By starting close you may save yourself some time, especially if the little buggers have already started making their move back in. A good plan of action would start with a shoreline break and head deeper and deeper until you may eventually end up a mile or more off shore, out in the middle of nowhere. When you start looking don’t be afraid to get into shallow water before heading out into the deep. If you start too deep you could miss the whole thing and waste valuable fishing time

A good example of that occurred a some years back when I got wind of a hot bite on the west side of Mille Lacs Lake off of a shoreline break very late in the season. My son and I were going to cash in on the fun and arrived with high hopes (we always do), and started with the break where it dropped from fourteen feet of water into about twenty. The fish just weren’t there so we kept heading deeper and deeper and drilling hole after hole with little to show for our efforts. We’d punch a hole and give it about fifteen or twenty minutes for any sign of life to show up before moving on to the next. After about four or five hours of rather fruitless angling we decided to head back. On the way in we thought we’d give it one last try and picked it up where we had started and headed shallow instead. After a few holes and a couple of moves we found them big time, in about ten feet of water. We quickly put together a decent catch but it could have been a whole lot better if we had just started where we finished. Great perch baits include jigging spoons like the 1/16oz Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon tipped with half of a fathead minnow. The Buck-Shot can draw them in from a long way off and you may want to give it some extra time before you give up on a spot. Another advantage to the spoon is the fact that it gets down the hole fast and fast is exactly what you need when you're over a hot bunch of jumbos. They can turn on and off at the drop of a hat so you better make the best of it while you can. A set line with a jig tipped with a spike or waxie is another good option and can be used in conjunction with the spoon. Jigs like Northland Tackle’s new Mud Bug will often trigger fish that have come in for a look at the spoon but aren't charged up enough to take it. A Mud Bug combined with a light action rod sitting perfectly still in a holder is the best setup for the technique and about all the action you'll need to get the right response. Another hot new bait that jumbo perch are going to have a hard time resisting is the Northland Bloodworm, which mimics the size and shape of a type of insect larvae and is a natural forage. Perch can often be found jammed full of the stuff and should be perfect for working tight to the bottom. Another consideration when you’re on the hunt is the fact that late ice perch location can vary from year to year and you never really know for sure where the good action is going to be. Just because a spot was hot last year doesn’t mean it will be the same this season. The thing is; to be consistent you better be ready to make some moves and drill a few holes (maybe a ton) to get the job done. See you on the late ice.

Ron Anlauf

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