Montana > Ice Fishing Montana

Perch madness

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Went fishing south of Lothair this weekend.  Ice looks great little over a foot thick now.  No one down there was having much luck as far as fair sized northerns or walleye, but there is one factor that sticks out like a sore thumb.  I don't think I've ever seen more 4 to 6 inch perch taken out of the water than I did this weekend.  No one dared throw them back because you couldn't keep them off your line.  2 years ago the wind blew a huge amount of tumbleweeds into the lake and formed some very impressive spawning grounds for the perch.  I haven't decided if it's good or bad yet, but it sure keeps a person busy busy busy.  Spear fishing on the other hand has been perty good.  I haven't heard of anything monsterous yet, but most of the folks I've talked to have gotten some perty fair keepers.  10 to 1 odds they were full of perch.

you answered your own question (of whether this situation is good or bad) when you said "10 to 1 odds they were full of perch.  

If you want a healthy population of walleyes, lots of little perch is a good food source to keep that wally population healthy.

I saw skinny, starving walleyes on Mille Lacs (Minnesota) last year.  The walleye population had gotten high and the perch population was too low.  Sometimes when hooked the fish would surface ten feet away from the boat, lay on its side and just let you drag it in across the surface with no fight at all.  They often didn't move when being handled and unhooked either.  It was a such a sad sight nearly made me cry, believe me you don't want that to happen to your local fishery.
Luckily Mille Lacs had two huge perch hatches this summer and the walleyes are healthy again.  Now we're having the same problem of catching two inch and four inch perch (and we are throwing them all back).  After seeing starving walleyes, I'd encourage you to do the same if you  can make yourself do so.  If it helps tell yourself the cold hard truth, "these little perch are GOOD for the FOODCHAIN"

So I've had a day for introspection and realize I may have sounded a little "preachy", if so please know that was not my intent.  It's just that my experiences the last two years on Mille Lacs have impacted my thinking noticeably.  Others have different life experiences, therefore understandably different opinions.

Okay, enough philosophy.
 A couple questions for Gusher.

You often say you went south of Lothair.  Does this mean that you were fishing the willow creek arm?  Or does it mean you were where the Bootlegger hits the north shoreline?  Not that it really matters, just gives me a little better mental picture since I know Tiber pretty well.

Absolutly no offense taken, you made a great point.  I was fishing the willow creek arm, right south of Kolstads farm.  Next time I go out I'm going to move to the east a little ways and fish off bird island.  Looks like the ice is good all the way out and doesn't look like anyone has ventured over there either.  If you have any spots on Tiber that you really liked, I'm always willing to give a new spot a shot.  

By the way I talked to Bev Cramer the other day and told her about our chance meeting.  "small world isn't it"

Have you had a chance to make it out fishing yet?

Okay, I've thought about it some more.  If you have 10 seconds to explain to someone out on the ice that little perch in the lake are a good thing, here's the line.

"Little perch that get eaten by walleyes make BIG WALLEYES.  Little perch that don't get eaten by walleyes become BIG PERCH."


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