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I Need Help Finding Perch

toadfish · 25 · 14198

toadfish

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Most of the bodies of water near me are large, flat and shallow such as Grand Lake St. Marys, Indian Lake, Lake Laromie, Lima Reservoirs, etc.

How do I find perch on these with a short season and limited time?

I only have a couple hours of light after work.  Moving around and using electronics such as my Vexilar help, but where do I start and how much time do I spend in each hole?  I almost positive that drilling holes just a couple of feet over the fish will at least turn them off of feeding for a while.  By the time active fish are found, it is near dark.  I can be days until I get time to come back to the same spot and the fish have moved by then or the ice has gone bad.

How far apart should holes be drilled on flat, open water? 10 yards, 30 yards, 50 yards, 100 yards?  Buy the time a lot of different holes are drilled and "look at" with electronics and maybe fished, the sun is dropping and the perch are starting to shut down for the night.

Any helpful hints are appreciated.
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icebucketjohn

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1st:  Get a map of the lake & study it.
2nd: Start deep and as evening approaches, drill in shallower areas
3rd:  Change lures and techniques
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Ntoiceman36

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Those are hard perchin lakes, schools if the exist will be hard to find, alot of our inland reservoir are to shallow to support good perch populations fishing pressure and predation are also a factor, although at nimisilla res. Near me I have drilled holes near shore in very shallow water and caught many small perch
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slabslayer

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Perch move around a lot, especially in the types of lakes it sounds like you fish. Look for the deeper pockets and any areas that may have cover; I.e, weeds, deep submerged timber, etc. Also change lure color and silhouette often until you get a bite.  Sometimes they want your lure hanging vertical other times horizontal, pay attention to the subtleties. And most important is to drill tons of holes, for perch especially, since they can be harder to find. If you can drill 40-50 holes in various locations and depths, then go back thru with a camera, lower it into the holes until you've found the perch. If no success, repeat until you've found them.

I've spent an hour drilling and cameraing before I've ever put a lure in the water.  I know you don't have that much time, but for me, 5-10 yards apart for my holes is what I typically do. When searching, I'll Swiss Cheese the ice. If you only have 2 hours, spend half hour searching, if you haven't found anything, drop back and fish likely holes. Tip-ups or riggers, like a Jaw-Jacker, placed in 6 other holes can be helpful to intercept moving fish too. Then you know which holes to focus your search in. I'd rather spend my time fishing over fish than jigging my lure in dead water hundreds of yards from the nearest fish. It might seem like a lot of work, but once you've found the fish, the bite continues for a long time. And if they start moving, you can follow them much easier.  Hope this helps!
« Last Edit: November 30, 2013, 11:10:29 AM by slabslayer »
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toadfish

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Thanks to all for the advice.

I don't have a camera but I do have a Vexilar FL-20 that is my eyes to the underwater world.  Since perch are bottom huggers, especially in shallow Grand and Indian lakes, they are hard to spot on the Vex when hole hopping trying to locate fish.  This is compounded by the fact that you are drilling holes and walking just feet over their heads.

I have about 2 hours of light after work for the Lima reservoirs.  I might just try drilling hole after hole and looking down with the Vex until I spot fish, then lower a lure.  If no fish are spotted, I'll keep moving.

BTW Slabslayer, I read your post about purchasing a power auger and since we have only had mild winters with 4-5" of ice.  Can you take it back so we get significant ice again?
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slabslayer

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I usually drill all my holes first, then go back and start with the first hole and look for fish. This gives the fish a chance to settle down and move back in the area, especially if it's shallow.

As for the auger, I agree, that's why I just bought a new hand auger yesterday and left my power head in storage! ;D Hoping that helps!!
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toadfish

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I usually punch a lot of holes first too, then follow up with the Vexilar to check for fish/depths.  If I don't mark fish, I'll keep drilling or start hole hopping with the vex to see if anything comes in.  If it is cold and/or windy, I may pick out a spot and set up the flip-over to stay warm, but I don't like setting up over dead water.

Looks like we are in for a bit of a warm spell, I have not gotten my shanty out of storage yet.  I have been reading up on how to find perch and got a couple of ice rods out.

I the new auger has something to do with this, tale it back; I am heading to Canada and it is supposed to be -26F on Wednesday.  I wish we could get a week of those temps here before the snow starts flying!
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davidhoheisel

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This is a great topic Toadfish as I am wanting to target Perch also and they are hard to find.

There are anglers out there that are very good at targeting perch but I think they are very secretive about it.

Their are Jumbo Perch in Grand, Indian and Buckeye. I know because I have seen them but cant seem to find them on a consistent basis.

If anyone is willing to help us with what depth and cover and best bait at these lakes would be very helpful and appreciated.

Lets Keep this topic going!
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toadfish

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Thanks David. This is the reason I suggested taking video of the Fin, Fur and Feathers talks.  I think the Run and Gun on Lake St. Clair may help out the most on tips on finding perch consistently.

I want to figure out how to up my chances of connecting with schools of perch on lakes in the NW Ohio area that have huge areas of featureless flats.

From what I have been reading, finding weeds near spawning areas area a high percentage area.  Very few lakes/reservoirs near me have weeds except in very shallow water (under a couple feet).

Even using a Vexilar with a wide cone angle transducer, a very small area under a hole is covered in the display area, especially in shallow water.

When targeting perch, I use my 5" Lazer auger instead of my 7" Mora since I can drill more holes faster.  The thing is, I would have a problem fitting a decent walleye/saugeye up through the hole if the ice was very thick.

If there is anyone out there that is wiling to show me how to start searching, it would be very much appreciated.
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OhioFisher19

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Personally for the exception of the deeper reservoirs I doubt that the perch are in big schools like you see on Lake Erie or other big deep reservoirs. Whenever I have caught perch on an inland lake they have been loners for the most part. They might travel in a group of five or six roaming flats or weeds but once you catch one chances are they have moved on by then. I have seen the on the camera do this at a reservoir in clyde. They like shiner minnows the best if you can get your hands on them and a tiny jigging spoon with minnow heads will be your best option for biters if they are big enough to eat. When you tend to catch a few small perch they are schooled up for safety, this is what you find on Lake Erie or any lake... but in Lake Erie the big fish need to stay schooled for chasing bait while on inland lakes with few predators and different bait they don't need the large schools and can survive as a usual predator fish eating minnows and other tiny bugs and what not. I will say when you find an area inland, chances are it should hold them for a good period of time as when they like an area they will stay. Also if you find small fish it is a good assumption the majority of what you catch will stay small unless you move in search of bigger fish. Again any success I have had inland has been a dozen nice fish, moving when the hole dies and catching them on a variety of baits hugging bottom. So I wouldn't expect to get a whole lot of perchies but hopefully this helps a little just my opinion...
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steelneyes

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A couple of thoughts,
Perch are early spawners and in south/ central OH especially in the shallow lakes you fish, that can be a few weeks after ice out with how fast those waters warm.  We also find them up in the pads as soon as the ice goes out up here. 
On a trip to one of the lakes you mentioned, we were catching them a week before ice up from the boat, on the deep edges of the pads.  Keep in mind that deep water is relative so 6 ft to 3 foot is a HUGE depth change.  So if you work a 50 year area near a weed or pad bed, you can cover that change thoroughly and quickly and if there are perch there, they will probably not leave the confines of that area in a few hours. 
I disagree slightly about minnows in the winter for perch.  Once located and found to be active they will tend to take minnows and you will catch the most aggressive fish on them.  But in most of the lakes you are talking about and in winter in general, perch, crappies and bluegills switch to a mainly invertebrate diet.  Scuds, bloodworms, snails, larvae, are easy pickins and better for their slow metabolisms.  Perhaps others will disagree, but whenever I clean ice perch, they are full of of inverts and I don't ever recall cleaning one full of minnows. 
Putting it together, and kicking up some mud:
My high speed locating method would be to drill my holes as mentioned previously to cover a reasonable area where I can hole hop in a minute or two.  Using your vex (I use regular sonar and assume it works the same) drop the ducer in each hole and figue out where you are on the break, remembering 4.5 to 5.5ft. etc. is significant.  Then work each hole for 5 mins.  I would have 3 rods rigged, a tungsten jig that is tiny yet sinks like a rock, an appropriate bladebait and a jigging spoon.  Check each hole with the jig first, get it to the bottom and pound it in the mud.  Any active perch will come over to check out the distubance as you just kicked up the invert. buffet.   Tip with bait or plastic, your preference as long as it is pink or orange.  If no luck on that, I like the smallest cicada or vibee, rip it good for  few mins to see if they come in.  Then when there are fish around, try the jigging spoon, they may come in on the blade but not be willing to hit it.  Always keep the vex on and watch for weak returns as they tend to sit off the bait a few inches to a few feet and come charging in and grab it.  The higher up off the bottom you can get them, the more likely they are to bite.  We have had perch come up 20 feet in clear water following the bait all the way after kicking the bottom up, the inverts and anything that hatches out of the mud tends to rise. 
Lastly, break your lake down into manageable areas and work a different one until you find fish, then try to duplicate the same situation.  The trip I mentioned came down to very, very specific conditions but ended up being successful by paying fine attention to the details, and fishing areas quickly, staying when we found fish and leaving after 10 mins or less when we didn't.  It is much easier on the ice, travel as lightly as possible, drill, a few rods and the vex, a pocket size box with a few backup lures.  With only a few hours, you don't have time to change lures often.  If you aren't marking, you aren't in the right hole, if you can't catch them on one of those 3 setups, they aren't biting or they aren't perch. 
Sorry for long post, guess my 2 cents turned into an inflated pork project!


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 On Indian, Grand lake, they do school up in the winter. With that being said, it is often difficult to have ice good enough to get to the "hot spots" For example on Indian south of Dream bridge is one of the better spots for jumbos. They are also in the exact location in the dog days of summer. Areas that do get safe ice that are close to these areas (Moundwood & Cranberrys) get the stragglers.

 But if you really want Perch Bresler is the easiest. Find the hump an drill all over, from 8' to 24' the Perch stay located close to the foundations and road bed unless predator fish are around or they are feeding on the flat. I haven't caught anything over 12" but the volume of fish is normally good.

Hope this helps!

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Mullygyn

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I agree with wballard. Indian is difficult to find a school of perch. I think they are available but most people just take them as a bonus here or there. Because the depth is so consistent I think the fish tend to roam more so than say Bressler.  Bressler where there is a depth change, its easier to locate a school because we know what perch typically do, and where they tend to be in conjunction with structure. Find the ledges and drill. This was from bressler several years ago, it was 14"+


toadfish

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Wes,  I was very near the hump area you have highlighted a couple of seasons ago and did not mark a single fish.  I may have been near the point that goes out to the west, just on the west side of the hump.  I tried Metzger and Ferguson for both perch and eyes and caught lots (just a few really) of undersize eyes but not a single perch.  According to wildohio.com, the east reserviors have better numbers and sizes of perch than Bressler.  I picked up a few perch from the south bank the fall before last and they were 9"+.  I want to be able to get those in winter.

I drilled many holes and looked with the Vex FL-20 and would move to the next hole unless I spotted fish.  I never did mark anything but when the sun got low, I would jig vibee's for eyes.
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