by Jack Payne
This past week we started catching perch in the junk. Each year as the ice leaves the perch move in. Wednesday was the first day of ice free water on a local bayou. Just like turning on a light switch a few perch moved into the shallows.
Get a day with a warm sun and calm winds and schools of perch will move in. Cold windy days will find the perch on the deep points closest to the shallow water junk.
Shallow water junk is old weeds, decayed vegetation, areas where the wind has pushed leaves and clutter into. If there is any type of current available the better the shallow water location will be.
One of our favorite locations has a drain culvert leading into it. With spring run-off a constant source of current is found. The perch are often in the junk filled bottoms in a foot or two of water and where the culvert current blows morsels of food by.
Any lake or river system that has a shallow water area that during the summer might not be fishable is a good place to look for early spring perch. Some of these locations are the weedbeds that become impenetrable during the summer. With higher water tables in the spring you might have depths between 4-8 feet.
The water temperature will be warmer in these locations than any other spot on the lake. Many times this will be on the northern shorelines first. Sometimes you will find a canal or boat channel connected to this type of water.
These locations become red hot on perch and plenty of bonus bluegill and crappies. These canals and small boat channels are shallow and often have a mud bottom that warms up quickly.
Under poor weather conditions the fish might pull out but only to the first deep water point. This seasonal fishery might last six weeks or like last season, only two weeks. It starts the day the ice comes off and will last until the water temperatures get close to the 50 degree mark.
The productive methods used are very basic. A bobber or a float, a few jigs and plain hooks with a couple of split shots and a speed snell connector is it. This is not the time and place for a perch spreader rig. These fish are shallow and active and you as the angler need to fish quickly and cover water.
We use a slip float from Carlisle or Lindy Tackle with a Fin Jig tear drop from Stopper Lures or the Lindy Crappie Queen and a plain red number six aberdeen hook connected to our main line with an Arnold Speed Snap. The speed snap allows an angler to add or remove extra hooks or jigs without tying or cutting your line. The speed snap hooks to your main line in two seconds and your second or third lure onto the other end of the speed snap.
Add just enough split shots so that your float is half submerged. Your jig should just graze the bottom when drifting with the wind. Your second hook should be set a few inches higher and if you want a third hook, just a few inches from the second hook.
Minnows are an excellent choice during the ice out season. Hook your minnow lightly so that it stays alive and dances around. Some anglers hook the minnow in the tail and others lightly through the lips. You pick, just make sure that it stays alive.
Work the shallow water debris, watch for any areas of current or spots that the wind might push your float across and continue moving until the fish are found. If the action wanes then pick up and start the search all over. If weather conditions sour head out to the deeper water points and drop the anchor. Ice out perch fishing is easy and perch often bite through out the day so no need to be the first on the water.