Spring perch fishing heats up on St. Mary’s River
Perch fishermen waste no time getting their boats in the water once the ice is gone from the St. Mary’s River.
At this writing, the ice is not completely gone, but enough of it has retreated and broken up to allow the careful angler to search for perch while dodging icebergs.
We usually dress as if we are going ice fishing, even though the water is open. I’ve been known to wear my neoprene chest waders, which keep me plenty warm while bouncing along in my small aluminum boat.
The best fishing is yet to come, but you can really catch some nice fish just as the ice is going out.
Most of the fishing is done in the usual places you would expect to find perch at this time of year – shallow water, less than 8 feet, which warms up quickly. The fish are in there to spawn and find food.
But we’ve found perch in deeper water at this time of year, too – sometimes as deep as 25 feet. I’m not sure if they’re spawning at that depth, although fisheries biologists tell me that perch will spawn anywhere the conditions are right, no matter how deep that may be.
Spawning or not, we know they’re hungry. They take our minnows readily and their stomachs are packed with small crayfish, mayfly larvae, minnows and small sculpin. Most of what we keep are in the 9- to 10-inch range – the best size for eating, in my opinion – but it’s not uncommon to catch 12-inchers. A buddy caught one a few years ago that was nearly 15 inches and he kept that one to get it mounted.
I’m looking forward to fishing for perch over the next several weeks.