The warm weather is a very welcome change and bringing the snow depth down to manageable heights will make late winter-season ice fishing a bit easier to get around. With several opportunities available for Crappies, Bluegills, Tullibees, and Perch, late ice fishing won’t last long with warmer weather upon us. Make sure when venturing out you bring along or wear higher boots because of increased water on the ice.
Perch fishing, especially in the late winter, can be some of the best ice fishing opportunities of the winter. Perch start to move shallow prior to spawning and are schooled up in big bunches. They are nourishing their bodies and eating several different critters that are available. As the melting water seeps into the cracks and holes of the late ice, perch will go on a feeding binge right up into ice out. Looking at your lake maps try to target areas that come out of deeper water to flats that are adjacent to shallower rocky areas. These are key locations to contacting late ice perch with consistency. Make no mistake you will still have to drill several holes to stay on them, but it’s worth the effort.
Yellow Perch are one of the best-eating fish available and that is why many anglers have learned their food value. The firm, sweet flesh of perch are like no other species. For generations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois, perch have been part of the “Friday night fish Fries” that many have grown up with. The reason is they are very tasty and fun to catch. We in Minnesota for many years never knew the value of perch until the last 20 years or so. Now there are many anglers targeting perch like never before. Limits were reduced to preserve the perch and now it has rebounded in several lakes where it was decades ago.
Small baits, like Northland Tackle’s Forage Minnow and the Forage Minnow Spoon, are deadly on late winter ice perch. Attach a minnow head or a couple of wax worms and subtly jig it until you get bit. Plastics also work excellent at times and the Impulse Bloodworm can be a bait that will put perch on the ice. Good electronics and an Aqua Vu underwater camera can be all-important ingredients in finding and staying on the perch. Much of the same tackle you use for other species of panfish are well suited for perch fishing also. Lite line in 4# test and a lite action rod is sufficient for perch and loads of fun.
Some of the good lakes in the Grand Rapids area are Big Winnie, Pokegama, Bowstring, Sand, Big Ball Club, and Jessie. Contact local bait shops for updated information on where the perch are biting. It can help in making your decision on where to fish.
To book a last-minute late winter ice fishing trip or book an opening fishing vacation, click HERE.