Lures for Catching Hard Water Perch

Tony Roach with Yellow Perch
Tony Roach with Yellow Perch

Tony Roach with a yellow perch caught through the ice

During the hard water season, many anglers venture out onto the frozen surfaces of the Belle Province of Quebec in search of one of the most popular species, the yellow perch.

by Patrick Campeau

The sport of ice fishing, which has been practiced since the dawn of time, serves to relax and provide fun and entertainment. It also provides the opportunity to bring home some delicious, tender fillets that everyone enjoys.

Far too often, upon analyzing the contents of our ice fishing tackle box, we find bare trays and selections are limited. If this is your case, the following assortment is the perfect selection of baits to outwit these small delicacies.

Ice FlyIce Fly Jig
This lure has really proven itself over the years. I am sure that the majority of perch fisherman have already tried this little creation, generally designed by artisans. There are no really large tackle companies that seem to manufacture them. This offering that imitates an insect as a larva is totally irresistible for perch. The size of hooks used varies from 6 to 14. You will often find ice flies on display at specialty shops in size 6-10. The eyelet can be straight and tilted forward or to the back.

Tungsten Banana Bug
This model, in its original form, introduced me to the glory days. Tied on at the top back of the bait, it swims on a horizontal axis. For maximum movement with this 1/28, 1/16 or 3/32 ounce tungsten lure, gentle inch to 2 inch “twitches” impart an up and down swimming action. Its action is quite unique. It is balanced so that every time it’s raised the head tilts forward, which has the effect of simulating a small fish that dives mouth wide open towards the bottom, as if feeding. If you use a conventional closed knot, it will not work properly because the fishing line will cause too much resistance during its various motions. Opt instead for an open tie that does not close. I have been very successful working this bait by raising it barely 8 to 10 cm and then letting it fall back down without tension.

The Mud Bug
This jig from Northland Tackle has a unique appearance. This lightweight 1/64 ounce lure with a size 12 hook or 1/32 ounce with a No. 10 hook has a stocky oval shape allowing it to stand. Its appearance mimics the face of a large insect larvae emerging from the shallows. Oversized eyes add an extra inviting touch for small predators. The eyelet is positioned at 60 degrees to accentuate its action. Work it slowly with a lift and drop of 15 to 20 cm and twitch your rod tip frequently to impart an enticing action.

The Puppet Minnow
This offering from Northland Tackle measures only 1 ½ inches and weighs 1/8 ounce. It perfectly imitates a minnow. This metal, vertical jigging lure has an eyelet on the back which keeps it horizontal when you work it. It is equipped with a single hook on each end and a small treble on the belly. So there are five hooks that help to sting its attackers. An inverted V-shaped rudder instills a provocative motion and prevents it from tumbling over itself and tangling. Its unique action stimulates all the senses of a perch. When jigging this minnow, it rises on a perfectly linear axis. Then, when given slack, it comes spiraling down head first into the abyss intriguing all fish within meters of it.

Forage Minnow Jig
If you are targeting perch that are relatively aggressive, I recommend you try your luck with this perfect imitation of a small fish. It has an eye catching color with realistic holographic patterns that make it even more attractive. For the best action on this bait, simply rip it up quickly a short distance, then drop back down gently without tension. Then, go back up by jigging a few times and start the same routine

Mepps developed this great classic a long time ago. The vast majority of fish-eating species on the planet cannot resist it. Even the smallest version of this family wreaks havoc on the perch population. This marvelous 1/8 ounce, 4 cm lure, offers an alluring swimming action on a sinusoidal axis, like a fish in water.

W10 Wabler
This small reproduction of the famous Williams Wabler will find a place in your box as it also offers a very irregular and exciting action. This lightweight, 1/16 ounce lure measures 2.5 cm. It has a side to side flutter and wabble when it goes up and then when it falls back into the shallows, it resembles an inert prey that has lost all control. Perch looking for an easy meal will let themselves be easily seduced and trapped on its sharp treble. I especially favour the blue and red luminescent colors. The W20 Wabler, this slightly larger cousin of the W10 Wabler, can be fished in the same way as the W10 but is also a favourite when bent at a 90 degree angle making an L shape out of the spoon with the treble hanging off the bottom of the L and your line tie at the top. When jigged this altered shape imparts a very aggressive action and can be a very productive option for perch. My favourites are the classic silver and gold in the hammered Nuwrinkle finishes. Tip the odd shank of the treble with a maggot or other bait on slow days.

Buck-Shot spoon
This brightly coloured, 1/16 ounce spoon has a sound chamber that awakens even the most dormant yellow perch. When imparting slight jerking motions, the pellets in the chamber create an easily detected rattle below the surface. When dropped down with no tension, it slides from one side to the other. If the fishing action is slow, I like to aggressively agitate this bait to create an underwater riot.

Fishing Line
Some anglers seem to think it is better to use a heavier line in case a walleye or pike comes along. In this case, I would say it does not bother me to lose a few lures at the expense of these large predators rather than compromise the subtlety of my presentation. Keeping to lighter lines will catch you more perch. Given that the Canadian record perch is 2.97 lbs, 4 pound test line like Maxima Ultragreen is more than enough. A perch’s teeth will not cut your line.

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