Guarded by the logistical gauntlet of a twisted beaver bog which cut through the mountain lowlands, the secluded lake deep in the Adirondacks held the chance for secluded summertime perch. Perch are known as being a highly regarded winter and spring target. Most don’t see the summer months as a great time to target good eating perch. However, the Adirondack park is a golden resource and protects fish from the pressure other lakes in our state face. But if you love adventure, heading for hidden lakes and ponds combines a childlike sense of it with the action of feisty fish on lightweight gear.
Perch in their own right are predatory fish. More than once I’ve seen minnows sticking out of the throats of hungry perch. A part of the walleye family, perch find themselves in a weird part of the food chain as both hunter and hunted. Like bass or pike they, hunt near structure. From watching countless schools of perch through the polarized lens of fishing glasses, perch will often hide in the very middle of wooded structures or under rocks. Two of the best structures to seek out are beaver dams and downed trees which coincide with a dropoff. This serves a two-fold purpose in hiding from larger predator fish and the ability to ambush their food, but anglers might need to take a chance with your jigs, suspending them closer to their ambush zone than would be deemed smart. Yes, snags are a part of rousting big summer perch from their bidding places.
Cast over the school
Whether the structure you find consists of rocks, dropoffs, logs and downed trees, many anglers are frustrated with the abundance of baby perch robbing their hooks of bait. However, since perch are know to travel in large schools, finding the small perch is your key to discovering the larger specimens. Through personal experience, the larger targets sit well below the majority of the school. Reaching the lower depths where the larger fish lie can be difficult with basic hook and bobber or straight hook. My favorite methods for reaching the depths for big perch are marabou jigs. Mini bucktail-like jigs with differently colored heads and bodies. The tail skirts on marabou jigs provide extra action, which often gives enough incentive for a monster perch to strike. Another method which proved even better at times for reaching deeper waters were Mr. Twisters. Usually seen as a lure for bass, Mr. Twisters with half-ounce weighted heads allowed us to quickly reach the deeper waters and stay mostly unavailable to the smaller fish. When you find the main school and cast well out past the group into deeper water, walk and bounce the jigs on the bottom back toward your boat.
Extra Ffavor and action
If one ever watches perch, or any fish for that matter, they tend to give any lure a taste test before fully taking a giant chomp. Tipping your hook with bait is a bit cliche, I know, yet giving a bit extra flavor is the ticket for enticing picky perch. There are some days it feels like they would chomp on a a rigged bottle cap; other days it seems like they might not exist. When tipping a hook with worm, leave a bit of the worm dangling. Reason being, when the fish tastes the smaller dangling piece they will have to bite the hook as well. The classic nightcrawler you can never go wrong with, but meal worms are like candy to fish. They are less slimy and stay on the hook better from what I have experienced. This can save time and frustration, especially when fishing with younger children.
Perch are not just a fish reserved for getting little kids started on fishing. Finding good perch schools can take time. When you do, have some batter mix, oil and a cast iron pan ready for some of the best eating freshwater fish you can catch.