Each spring, anglers look for a way to shake off the winter blues and have an excuse to warm up for trout season. Yellow Perch migrate into tidal and freshwater shallows to spawn. Locating the Perch is a challenge. The schools of spawning “Bucks and Roes”, wait for the water temperature to be just right and then they rush up into the creeks to spawn. Dense groups of perch fill small streams or drainages and become easily caught.
When spawning, the “Bucks” excite the females to shed out long skeins of eggs. These long egg sacks hook onto sticks and debris where they are then fertilized by the smaller “Bucks”. When you find the egg sacks, you have found the perch. Look for the deeper pools and snags to be filled with the “Yellow Neds”. Where you find one perch, you will find more.
Light tackle is best for sport and fun. Shorter ultra-light rods allow you to explore the small streams. Take along a pair of pruners to help you cut trails through the tangles. 2-4 lb. test lines work great. Polaroid glasses allow you to see fish even better. They also protect your eyes from sticks, thorns and injury.
The average keeper yellow perch is about 10 inches or larger. 12-14 inch females full of roe are what I target. When you catch and release perch, use a pair of forceps to quickly allow you remove the hook. A hand towel on your belt is a great idea to keep your gear and hands clean.
Tiny shad darts, spoons, and jigs tipped with grass shrimp, worm or a minnow work best. In larger pools, use a small bobber to drift the lures into position. I sharpen my hooks to allow for clean hook ups and hook removal.
Beginners need to remember that Yellow Perch have sharp spines on their fins. The gill plates are also razor sharp.
Filleting Yellow Perch is the best way to clean them. I do not scale them but instead skin them with a sharp filet knife. I also rinse the filets thoroughly. An electric filet knife also works well. Years ago, the limits were huge but today the populations are more protected and limits defined. Check the regulations for the area you fish.
Perch, like walleyes, are in the pike family of fishes. For me, they taste great and are fun to catch. Try a tailgate or shoreline fish fry. Pancake batter is a perfect dry coating to shake your filets into. Some tartar sauce, fresh rolls and a slice of tomato tops off a perfect fish sandwich. The eggs or “roe” are often over looked as food. This Perch “caviar” is tasty and healthy to eat. Try frying it with your morning breakfast eggs. Make sure you plan ahead and don’t forget to invite Montana Grant for a great perch meal!