Perch - Tips and Tricks

Perch feed by sight and need light to find prey. They start foraging only after sunlight enters the water depths. They may feed off and on throughout the day, but usually eat once in the morning and once in the afternoon. As night approaches the schools scatter and the fish are lazy until the next morning. Perch are rarely caught at night.

The best time of day to catch perch can change suddenly on any day. Perch fishing is usually best in the early morning or evening hours during late spring and early summer and late afternoon or evening in late summer. In autumn, both morning and late afternoon-evening provide excellent fishing.

In the natural lakes, the best fishing is usually from late summer until late fall. Late spring and early summer rank as average; an angler that can consistently catch perch in mid-summer can catch fish at any time.

Perch are found mostly in deeper water during much of the year, so they are hard to find without a boat. A boat provides an easy way to seek out fish by trying different locations. 

Shore or dock fishing is good at times, particularly during spring and early summer. Perch gather around bottom structures, such as rock piles, reefs, along the lee side of land points, beds of submergent aquatic plants and bottom drop-offs. In late spring and early summer they are often found in 10 to 20 feet deep water, still near the bottom. Drift or troll until you find a school, then anchor and still fish or cast.

No matter what type of lure, bait or gear you use, success is often dependent on how well the bait is presented to the fish. Perch orient toward the bottom, so your bait or lure must be fished on or near the bottom. When perch are found, fishing may be slow at first, but most often action is fast and furious as schools of perch move through while feeding. Land each fish as quickly as possible and put the bait back down, because the next perch is waiting to strike. A strike may occur as the bait drops, but most often it happens just as the bait is lifted off the bottom – so be ready.

When fishing is slow, vary your techniques before moving to another spot. If jigging produced good fishing then suddenly slows, cast in a circle around the boat. Let the bait hit bottom before reeling it in. If a strike occurs, land the fish slowly. The flashing action of the fighting fish seems to draw other perch back into the area. As action increases, land fish more quickly and get the bait back down.

Swishing a rod back and forth in shallow water will often attract perch and trigger some bites. Running the boat motor, even while anchored, also can have some positive results with the noise appearing to entice perch. Some anglers pound their anchor up and down in the lake bottom before anchoring to attract perch. If there's still no action after 15 or 20 minutes, move to a different spot and try again. Perch usually need no invitation to bite and once found they will provide lots of fast action like few other fish.