Spring perch fishing tips help beginners on Lake Erie
Yellow perch fishing on Lake Erie has exploded out of the gate once again to the delight of ring back anglers. Also, to the delight of beginner anglers, diehard perch fisherman Steve Brzuszkiewicz of Marilla is always willing to share perch fishing information. He is like a machine on this Great Lake.
His recommendations for a beginner perch fisherman are try to stack all the variables in your favor. These include weather, equipment, bait, and a plan of where you are going to fish. On the weather aspect, it seems best to head out on a day when the winds will be less than 10 knots at least two days after a big blow. A little ripple seems to be better than dead calm.
“Locating perch is the key,” insists Brzuszkiewicz. He prefers a boat that lets you get close to the water like a tiller aluminum boat in the 16-18 foot range equipped with an I-pilot trolling motor to hold him over the fish at the push of a button. He has not used an iron anchor in more than 10 years.
“To find perch, a good fish finder and GPS really are keys,” says Brzuszkiewicz. “I find it best to troll slowly while using the fish finder’s lowest frequency which usually covers the most area. Mapping GPS is great for telling you where you are and have been in addition to marking waypoints to test on future outings. Perch usually hug the bottom but sometimes seem to layer a few feet off the bottom.”
For gear, he recommends a light action 5-1/2-foot rod and spinning reel using 10-pound test braided line. This gives him a better feel than monofilament and the short rod makes it easy to swing the fish into the boat. His favorite rig is a 4-foot fluorocarbon leader to which he ties two size No. 4 gold Aberdeen snelled hooks. The snelled hooks also use 14-pound fluorocarbon line. The only hardware is a swivel snap for the 1-ounce pencil sinker. His braided line has a swivel and leader has a loop. This setup maximizes stealth which he feels is better than excessive hardware when the perch are picky.
To try to ensure success he tries to get the best live bait the day before if possible. Live emeralds are his first choice. Live is better than salted. He prefers to keep his minnows in a bucket with a bubbler so he can get them quicker. His preference is to double hook the minnow from the tail end when vertical fishing or drifting slow.
If trolling slowly, he may hook the bait through the head to see if it makes a difference. “Getting the perch to bite sometimes requires perseverance and experimentation,” says Brzuszkiewicz. “Just dropping to the bottom works on a good hungry school but moving less dense finicky perch requires some trial and error.” This includes casting out with a slow drag back to the boat, or a slow lift and drop, or a small twitch, or let the line loose so both hooks drop to the bottom or a dead stick.
In any case, check your minnow after 10 minutes of inaction and put on a live one. Save your old minnow if in short supply because a hungry pack could show up later and dead fresh minnows work better than salted ones. And finally try to go where the fish usually are. You need to go to the fish because they won’t come to you normally. An exception is when they are in an area and moving around.
For the beginner, a group of boats is a good starting point. Don’t get too close to anyone. Look around using your fish finder and keep your eyes open for sea gulls feeding near a boat because that boat is catching fish. This will build up your way point history for the future. Help from your buddies and other fisherman for starting points is key. It is easy to do in our age of cell phones.
“Never give up searching for fish because the next spot may be that hot spot,” says Brzuszkiewicz.
This is an excellent time to give perch fishing a try on Lake Erie. Time on the water makes a huge difference. If you want a short cut to learn spots, techniques, and tips, hire a guide for a day and have an on-the-water educational lesson. For a list of Lake Erie charters in New York waters, check out https://www.easternlakeeriecharters.com/.