Who needs ice!? The summer perch search on lakes and rivers
Your perch search should start with lakes that offer a good size profile of fish. Look for lakes with a solid walleye population. If you’re looking for big fish, then consider larger bodies of water. Rule of thumb: Lakes or rivers with good walleye and bass fishing often have good perch fishing.
By this time of the summer, start by searching deep water. I’ve caught them in more than 30 feet of water during the heart of summer. Sunken islands are good places, along with rocky reefs and points. They’re feeding on minnows, insects hatching off the bottom, and even crayfish.
There’s a myth that perch must be belly to the bottom during the heart of summer. Not true! Your graph may pick them up spread throughout the lower part of the water column in deep water.
Many tactics will perform for summer jumbos. A nightcrawler on a slowly trolled crawler harness or a live bait rig with a minnow will work in lakes, or try using your electric motor to troll jigs. Just like walleye fishing, keep it vertical! Definitely consider using a jig and minnow in this situation, too.
Perch also can roam a main basin (not just bays!) on their quest for food. Again, electronics are very valuable in this search. Motor around some of these structure locations and monitor the bottom, though – almost like crappies – they’ll suspend a bit. If you find suspended fish, you’re going to see a school and you may have to assume that you’re seeing perch. (It’s obviously easier if you’re on a good perch lake). Worst case, you might pick up a few slab crappies.
It may take 30 to 45 minutes to find fish, but that’s time well spent, because otherwise we’re working dead water and wasting time.
By late summer when water cools, perch may begin to relate to a deep weedline on some mid-age lakes, say 10 to 17 feet. These typically are good walleye lakes with solid natural reproduction.
Perch will bite in the heart of summer, and if they’re not, then you’re just not looking in right spots!