By Patrick Campeau (photos courtesy Patrick Campeau)
While waiting the open-water boating season, many anglers venture out onto the frozen surfaces of their favourite lake in search of one of the most popular ice fishing species in Canada, the yellow perch.
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 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.
1) Small “Ice Fly”: 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. 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 sizes 6 to 10. The eyelet can be straight and tilted forward or to the back.
2) Lindy Glow Spoon: This unique lure is designed to present the perfect amount of glow, making it easy for fish to find in stained water or low light conditions. Replaceable glow sticks light up the plastic spoon, which enhances the color pattern and presentation. Offered in 17 effective colors and three sizes from 1/16 to ¼ ounce. The unique shape matches natural forage profiles and imparts a swimming action on the drop, while tungsten rattles call in gamefish from distance.
3) Tungsten Toad: This tungsten jig from Lindy is a great option for finesse presentations. Tungsten drops faster and keeps your line tighter, eliminating slack in the line for better hook sets. The Toad is available in three different hook sizes: No. 10, No. 12 and No. 14, as well as glow and natural colors. Its horizontal presentation offers a natural look and can be complemented with small plastics or larvae. Work it slowly horizontally with a lift drop of 5 to 10 cm and twitch your rod tip frequently to impart an enticing action.
4) Puppet Minnow: This offering perfectly imitates a minnow. It measures 1.5” and weighs 1/8 ounce. 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. 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 headfirst into the abyss intriguing all fish within meters.
5) Perch Talker: This highly effective perch lure keeps it simple by using brass beads and discs creating colour, flash, sound, and water displacement. A subtle jigging action brings out all the fish-catching features. The click and rattle, sending out noise and vibration, will bring fish right into your presentation zone. The brass discs grab and displace water to stimulate the fish’s lateral line and draw them in. The dropper chain places the bait at a distance from the lure, enticing hook-ups that seal the deal catch after catch. Available in ten colors and two sizes: 1/8 and 1/16 ounce.
6) Syclops S00: Mepps developed this great classic a long time ago and 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.
7) 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 wobble 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 colours.
8) Quiver Spoon: Constructed from lightweight tin and engineered with a distinctive bend, this innovative spoon from Lindy descends slowly through the water column with a tantalizing, flashy quiver. All Quiver Spoons come with a strike-prompting red treble hook. The 1/16-ounce sizes, which can be tipped with a minnow head, larvae or plastics, are a great tool when you need to trigger bites from neutral or negative fish. Available in glow and natural colors.
Some anglers seem to think it is better to use a heavier line in case a walleye or pike come 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-lb test line like P-Line Floroice or P-Line monofilament C21 is more than enough. A perch’s teeth will not cut your line.
Good fishing and be especially careful on the ice this season.
Professional angler and 3-time champion
Inducted Member of the Canadian Fishing Hall of Fame