Author Topic: what i have learned about patterning winter perch  (Read 2581 times)

Offline logicallycompromised

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what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« on: Jan 11, 2018, 06:50 PM »
hello good sirs and misses!
i decided to get back in touch with these species i had overlooked for 20+ years and did some research leading up to my first artificial lure ice fish just a couple weeks ago.  these last couple days i have become comfortable enough that my mind has been able to process and ask more questions which has lead to these patterns.  the sample size is still smaller then most but the correlation is also very strong.

those pink annotation i added should give you an idea about the water i have been fishing.  i choose these locations as wanted to be near smaller flats and try to locate the dying weed edge.  i have caught 50+ fish now from 10-28'.  i have been using a garmin striker 4cv for most of this time and the larger perch do not mess around.  they come in hot and crush whatever you are offering.  the smaller fish seem more reserved about showing themselves to high off the bottom maybe they feel naked, vulnerable?  the toads could not car less.  the most productive depth for number is about 20'.  often there is very little weeds in these depths here and it makes reading the screen much easier; it is not difficult to begin with but having less weeds saves me time tweaking the sensitivity of the sonar.  often most holes i catch perch in the deeper waters also produce a couple more for upto 3 minutes or so then the show is over.  i have stayed around and gotten one more but took too long to justify.  i have not changed lures after the bite stops so that could pick it up but i am seeing no indication of fish on my screen; i trust this unit explicitly. 
i have now caught a handful of 12"+ perch and they seem to concentrate in 14-16' range.  i have not caught any toads any deeper then about 18'.  here are some images of the larger perch; the 2nd and 3rd are 12"+ and the other two i feel comfortable calling 11's.  i am catch and release, barbless hook only guy but it appears most others that call these waters home do not practice such stewardship.  i would like to believe there are true 14" here but only time will tell.



it is interesting how much more sexual dimorphism takes place in these fish from 11-12".  use the top two images for an example.  i know the 2nd one is 12" and the first one i estimate at 11"  they both have huge bellies but all the 12" + fish i have caught have this prominent bump located near their dorsal fins.  that last fish i estimate around 11.5 as that back bump has formed well but still needs to be a little more pronounced before i measure it to be sure it is 12+ inches.

the rods i built for this were left over tops from some blanks that broke during shipping several years back.  the reels i am using are also less then idel but i am out there catching fish. i made some spring bobbers and they help immensely but the rods are still too stiff.  i have some more blanks on there way which should be a real treat to fish with.  i am fishing the thinnest 4pound line available; nanofil with double albright to about 4' of trout hunter 6x flourcarbon.  the nanoline is awesome, much thinner than equivalent braid and does not wick up water and freeze guides.  i am using smaller guides then most to increase sensitivity.  this thin setup results in less drag then most setups and the 3.3gram tungsten jig gets to bottom fast.  i caught one large perch on jigging rap but these jigs topped off with a spike or two are much more forgiving.  the spinning reels spin me up a little too much for my liking and i ordered my first inline reel yesterday.  i will likely order a couple more after i verify the quality first.  i have only lost two fish that i will blame on the rod, one was much smaller and the other was going to be a toad.  if i had more spring in my rod there is a chance it would not have unloaded enough for the barbless hook to slip out.

i am in this for keeps now. i used to sit around and let depression eat me up in the winter.  it has been a long time since smaller fish have gotten me this excited.  if i stumble onto any other ideas worth sharing i will update this thread.

if you have any information to pass along so that i can continue to be successful by my standards i am happy to remove some gradient from this learning curve.
thank you for your time and live long and prosper!

Offline esox_xtm

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #1 on: Jan 11, 2018, 07:38 PM »
Thanks for sharing! I grew up tippy fishing but I've got lots of jigging stuff and looking to broaden my horizons. I like perch and agree with many of your observations. Those are some slob eatin' b@$tards!

Help us out and add your location to your profile. I look forward to your future posts!

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Offline logicallycompromised

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #2 on: Jan 11, 2018, 08:53 PM »
understood. updating profile right after i hit submit.
i have fished minnows and tilts for 25+ year but never tried this jigging stuff.  one late night, in early october of last year i started watching all these ice fishing videos and wanted to try it out this season.  little of my gear is ideal but i am happy to have made much of it and get out on the ice to learn and improve the system i have developed thus far.  i think it will be about 3 weeks before i have the new rods blanks here and i will just keep doing the best i can with what in the interim.

do you find these larger perch to be more solitary?  the closest back to back i got was probably within 5 minutes on the same hole but the second fish was more like 10 inches, still a nice fish but no toad. being new to this, i do not know how solid this fishery is here so maybe it is not reasonable to expect these fish to school where as better waters(?) would even have these pigs schooling like i am finding much more common with the 5-8" perch.  those perch i can catch up to 4 within the first 5 minutes of fishing a hole then it seems i benefit more so from moving.

any other patterns you have observed or even if it was a rare exception, could you provide details so that i can have an option to try when fishing is more difficult.
peace and long life good sir or miss, esox!

Offline panfishman13

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #3 on: Jan 11, 2018, 10:24 PM »
lots of awesome information, logicallycompromised. you're well on your way to being a perch maestro!

the larger perch do tend to be more solitary, usually traveling in "wolf packs" of 4 to 8 fish separate from the massive schools of dinks, but not avoiding them. i'm working to nail down a pattern right now based on the theory that these double-digit perch hang around schools of small perch, using the small perch as a source of food. so far on the couple of chances i've had to test this idea out, i've caught fish on the upper end of 11", a very promising size for this particular body of water at this time.

the numbers of big fish aren't quite there, but it's understandable given the history of this particular body of water. about 10 years ago or so, there were massive schools of 11"+ fish, with 12 inchers remarkably common; but here in Idaho perch, and most other panfish, do not have a limit. you're literally allowed to take home every single fish you catch, and many anglers unfortunately abuse that allowance.
this lake in particular was extremely overfished, and only now are we returning to the days of double-digit perch.

but i digress. basically, what i'm dealing with is a massive mud flat at a consistent depth of 30 feet. i drill holes until i find fish then, using jigging lures, i'll work the school into a frenzy. ideally attracting larger fish to investigate, looking for a good meal. on a day with a more aggressive bite, i might search out different schools looking for larger fish, but the size and uniformity of this mud flat makes it so there's not much to really concentrate fish, except other fish.

my largest perch didn't seem to have any rhyme or reason to it other than random luck. i was set up over a weed bed on an overnight trip for crappie, and at about 8 AM the second day, a fish rushed in and grabbed my jig. you can imagine my surprise when what came up the hole was not the dink trout i thought it to be

i'm making another trip this monday to a lake that i know has trophy perch. it'll be the first time i've fished there in a while, but i'll come back with whatever i find out.



Offline logicallycompromised

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #4 on: Jan 12, 2018, 10:32 AM »
i have also experienced a similar phenomenon after catching a larger perch.  when i try the adjacent holes, like say 20-30' apart from the one that just produced a larger fish i often will catch smaller ones as i maintain a similar perpendicular to the tangent of the contour line heading to the deeper water.  often these other holes put me into 20-22' of water and the larger perch i catch are around 7-8 inches or so.  i have also gone the other way as well, caught a couple schoolies and when i fished the shallower hole in line with deeper hole have caught larger perch.  with an underwater camera we could start to piece together this enigma a little better but for the time being i have just accepted that correlation and drill more holes when i catch any perch to increase my chances.  i now try to maintaining a similar depth but move 30' to the sides.  or if i catch smaller fish i try to think about their shortest path to that magic 14-16 of water.  i think most the time this magic zone will incorporate a healthy weedline flourishing with inveterates, but i have been incorrect many times.

how close do you drill to a successful larger fish hole, 20' or closer? 

after trying to proofread my mess a little i will share a possible explanation for what we are discussing.  i suspect these rich weed lines that concentrate the food chain to be an unsafe location for smaller fish.  so they relate as close as they can to the edge of nourishment waiting for an opportunity to go in quickly and get out; strength in numbers.  energy conservation governs most things and i suspect that these larger fish, who just so happen to have less predators hang around the food and are less likely to inhabit the deeper water.  if there are larger pike maybe even these larger perch may head just a little deeper and leave the feeding zone.  i think if a fish can tolerate living in this food zone they will as it makes little sense to leave it unless their life is at risk.  i suspect there to often be a gradient of larger fish staying as close as possible to food and the smaller ones taking up shop just outside of this. 

what say you?

i have experienced similar situations with largemouth bass in the summer.  the same points and coves that these bass feed in under the comfort of darkness, they still slip into throughout the day to grab a quick meal.  one can pound the shoreline and allow serendipity to catch them a large fish ever once and again or i believe in pounding the deeper water which allows the most efficient access to these feeding grounds.  i have experienced what seems like fish staging and taking turns on these feed flats; waves of action and then nothing for 30 minutes.  if i hit a spot long enough in deeper water i will be rewarded more often then shallow so long as i know the fish use the feeding zone from catching them when they are more vulnerable in the evening and morning hours.

Offline esox_xtm

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #5 on: Jan 12, 2018, 06:11 PM »
Been my experience that the first drop usually gets the largest fish. After the alpha is gone the rest battle for it but if you're looking for big, subtle locational moves can be the trick.

Oh yeah, don't have to be "sir" but definitely not "miss".  :flex:
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Offline logicallycompromised

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #6 on: Jan 12, 2018, 06:38 PM »
thank you! i had not yet put those dots together and who knows how long it may have taken me.  it seems logical, thank you!

Offline panfishman13

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #7 on: Jan 13, 2018, 12:04 AM »
Quote
how close do you drill to a successful larger fish hole, 20' or closer?
closer. i drill my holes about 5 paces apart (10 feet, give or take), this is mostly because i find a spot via GPS, drill a test hole and check it, then pick a direction and drill anywhere from 10 to 20 holes in either a straight line or a dogleg before checking all with sonar and a rod. makes it real easy to find specific depths or weed edges really quickly, getting all the drilling out of the way first makes hole-hopping way faster, and in shallow water any fish disturbed by my drilling have time to come back into the area by the time i start checking with sonar.

Quote
what say you?
weed edges are a bit of a double-edged sword for baitfish. the weeds provide food and shelter, but also conceal predators like bass and pike, which are literally built for ambushing baitfish in weeds, which is why weed edges are such a key spot to target those predator species. they can't move around in the thick-thick weeds that baitfish hide out in, so they lie in wait for baitfish to leave the weeds looking for food or somesuch. how this applies to perch? not entirely sure. it seems to me that larger perch may sometimes use weeds in a similar way to pike and bass, ambushing schools of baitfish that pass by, but that's only a theory based off of a handful of encounters.

the other catch-22 is that big perch (and other panfish) tend to be completely absent from bodies of water lacking large predator species. I.E. you can't have big perch without a population of decent sized bass, trout, pike, etc. to prey on the small perch and keep them from overpopulating. there are some odd exceptions that occur though, in Idaho's Cascade lake, a massive population of world record class perch has exploded into existence from a transplant of stunted perch. there are trout in the system, but they don't seem to prey on the perch as much as the larger perch do. it's an interesting puzzle that i look forward to piecing together.

Offline icetilt

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #8 on: Jan 15, 2018, 04:02 PM »
i have also experienced a similar phenomenon after catching a larger perch.  when i try the adjacent holes, like say 20-30' apart from the one that just produced a larger fish i often will catch smaller ones as i maintain a similar perpendicular to the tangent of the contour line heading to the deeper water.  often these other holes put me into 20-22' of water and the larger perch i catch are around 7-8 inches or so.  i have also gone the other way as well, caught a couple schoolies and when i fished the shallower hole in line with deeper hole have caught larger perch.  with an underwater camera we could start to piece together this enigma a little better but for the time being i have just accepted that correlation and drill more holes when i catch any perch to increase my chances.  i now try to maintaining a similar depth but move 30' to the sides.  or if i catch smaller fish i try to think about their shortest path to that magic 14-16 of water.  i think most the time this magic zone will incorporate a healthy weedline flourishing with inveterates, but i have been incorrect many times.





Hey man I'm glad to see you took advantage of the first hand knowledge you picked up from me as well as following my advice to the "T" on how to pattern that place out looking for big fish.

Offline logicallycompromised

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #9 on: Jan 15, 2018, 06:30 PM »
yes sir, thank you!  by sharing your knowledge and answering my questions the sample size increased dramatically and patterns became more apparent.  i was going in the general direction of understanding and you and soft hackle saved me time.

Offline SHaRPS

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #10 on: Jan 15, 2018, 08:24 PM »
Your time is special.
Just add water.

Offline lunkerslayer

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #11 on: Feb 28, 2018, 07:08 PM »
This is what I have found when fishing for perch in deep 35+ water, the ice is covered in a foot of snow so there is very little light that makes it through. When  test drilling holes looking for active fish, I bring a piece of foam with a 1 inch hole in the middle to allow for me jigs to be fished. I have found that as active perch will come off the bottom much more aggressive then if I jig with covering the hole first. This doesn't mean that I get any takers it just tells me that the light spooks the fish in deep water.
That's why to me it seems that setting up fish house to be able to have the best shot at catching active biters in deep water.
Also being mobile is your best bet when searching for perch and the snobear is the ultimate vehicle

Offline panfishman13

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Re: what i have learned about patterning winter perch
« Reply #12 on: Mar 08, 2018, 10:21 PM »
we've had some strange stuff happen in the past few weeks. warm weather in january had pretty well melted off almost all of our ice, then a cold front came through and froze a few places again for about 2 weeks, and now they're thawing again.

in that little window of safe ice, i managed to get out for a couple hours and found a spot holding some very nice fish. i caught about a dozen before the light went away and they quit biting.

the only major difference between there and some other spots where we only caught small fish was that it was across the bay from the boat launch.

maybe they were less pressured there, maybe the bottom had some gravel or rock or something they were relating to that the sonar couldn't reveal, maybe they were there because there were fewer small fish to crowd them. whatever the reason, they were there, and they were aggressive. like, i had to keep a few of them because they swallowed my salmo chubby darter too deep.
easily the best day of perch fishing i've had this year.

next year i plan on buying an underwater camera to help solve some of these mysteries

 



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