Perch party on Lake Erie
We launched out of Buffalo and headed west to a predetermined location that was much shallower than reports I had been getting all week for yellow perch. I was fishing with Capt. Brent Snyder with Day Five Sport Fishing (585-944-5826) and he was going to be fun fishing with his first mate Mark George and Gary Caccamise, both of Alexander, N.Y.
In 10 minutes of motoring on a flat Lake Erie aboard his 2021 28-foot Hewes Craft Ocean 240, we were dropping our golden shiners into 46-47 feet of water at the first sign of perch on Snyder’s electronics. The Minn Kota Alterra was deployed and put on Spot-Lock, keeping us in place. Almost immediately, everyone had a fish on. My first drop resulted in a triple header, something I had never previously accomplished.
“I’ve never seen that before,” said veteran perch angler George. Fifteen minutes later, he saw it again when Snyder reeled in a triple on one rod. The perch were hungry!
To top things off, it was a beautiful day for early November. The lake was flat, and the outside temperatures were expected to hit 70 degrees mid-day. It was a gift, and we were taking advantage of it as best we could.
Like with any business, the key to success is location, location, location. For Snyder, a charter skipper for over 30 years, he emphasized a slightly different take on the success philosophy – structure, structure, structure.
“I like to target slightly shallower water in the fall,” says Snyder. “I look at the contour maps and identify breaks. How much current there is can be an important factor, too. If there is a strong current, the fish will be deeper. If there is only a slight current, they will be in shallower water. I knew the general area I wanted to fish, usually between Sturgeon Point and Buffalo. Then I start to hunt for them in that general area. It’s usually where no one else is fishing.” We were by ourselves this time, too.
We had consistent action for a half-hour and then it stopped. Snyder looked on his graph and saw some bigger marks.
“The walleyes moved in,” said Snyder. “Let’s move.”
He didn’t need to go very far. It might have been 20 to 30 yards when Snyder barked the “drop them” order. Almost immediately, we were on perch again. Double headers were common. We caught fish up to 14-1/2 inches long, very impressive perch to say the least. Mixed in with the perch were smallmouth bass. Sometimes it was tough to tell if it was a perch double header or a smallmouth. The action would be constant and when it stopped, we would move again another 20-30 yards.
Another important key to Snyder’s success is his logbook that he keeps religiously. Every trip he collects intimate angling details from the specific location and depth to water and air temperatures. Wind direction, wind speed and how much water current are all part of his record-keeping, too.
“I can go to a specific area and seek out yellow perch spring, summer or fall,” insists Snyder. “If they are not there, I will know if they are behind or ahead of schedule. If I want to try and fish perch in the summer, I know that they are food oriented and I must look to find their forage. I knew these fish were going to be here today because the water temperature was a bit lower than last year at this time.”
If you are serious about your perch fishing like Snyder is, he recommends that you keep a detailed log like this so that you can consistently catch them time in and time out.
Snyder also enjoys taking customers out for perch and his preferred rod set-up is a 10-foot noodle rod with a bit of a spongy feel. “It is more forgiving for the occasional angler, especially when a bass or big walleye hits. You don’t want to break off because time is money.”
Snyder also uses 8-pound test high visibility monofilament on his spinning reels. It’s easier for Snyder to see and he can tell when his customers have a hit. Again, he wants a bit of stretch for his clients when they have a bigger fish on.
On this day of fun fishing, we decided we would quit at 11:30 a.m. We started fishing at 8 a.m. Our final count was 179 yellow perch and one walleye in the cooler. We also caught over a dozen bass that were released unharmed. What a morning! Fresh fish was on the menu with a few packages going into the freezer to help get me through the winter. It doesn’t get any better than this. Give Snyder a call if you ever want to give perch fishing a try in this Great Lake.