Finally got back on the water after a brief hiatus and it was like we never left the hot bite. It has gone from another great walleye year on Lake Erie, right into full perch mode like last season. Sunday was the time to get some and the lake didn’t let us down.
Pulled into Jeff’s Bait and Tackle bright and early, which is just down the road from Sterling State Park and loaded up on all the essentials. Shiners, 2-Fly Rigs, ice and plenty of beverages because the winds were light and it was going to be a hot day on the water. I didn’t forget the Cold Snap cooling towels either and they were definitely needed before the end of the day.
Drove down the road to the boat launch at the state park and headed out into Brest Bay towards a certain area south of the 1 and 2 buoys. Not knowing for sure where to anchor up, we went on a search and seek mission, which turned into search and destroy soon after. What I mean by this, is one of my best methods for finding a good school of perch is to get the poles in the water and start a drift until the perch tell you where they are.
Keep in mind several factors while trying to do a drift, first and foremost the winds have to be right. We had a nice little chop on Sunday so the technique worked perfectly in conjunction with the 1 ounce bell sinkers I poured the week before in my Do-It mold and my trusty St. Croix Premier six foot ultra light spinning rod. Now if the wind is kicked up a few notches you might want to break out the drift bags, or if your boat is equipped with a bowmount trolling motor you can slow your speed down enough to make this an effective method of finding a school.
I popped a nice 12 inch perch right off the bat, and as soon as I got it back in the water another fish came up just that quickly. Don’t have to hit me too hard in the head not to know we were on some fish. I carefully walked up to the bow and after a little wiggling to get it out of the box, dropped the anchor. Again, walking carefully back to the stern, I looked around to see we were all by our lonesome, not a boat around. There was a big pack to the north, and another flotilla of boats south and east of us….perfect! I have a philosophy in the works, and fishing in a crowd creates too much competition.
Contemplate this for a second, lots of boats can draw your fish away because at some point you will be going at it hot and heavy and the perch are flying in the boat. All it takes is one time for everyone in the boat to have their rods out of the water and the perch will move off in search of more food. Think about, a fish is driven by food and sex, and this time of the year, momma’s eggs aren’t quite in their prime 😉 Without too much structure available below Lake Erie’s surface, those fish are constantly on the move. If you fish the crowds, you probably already guessed, but those perch have already moved off to the next boat’s offering before you get your rod back in the water. One solution that I have come up with is leave a decoy rod in the water rigged with plastics to hold their interest just long enough for you to get the real deal back down to the bottom. Northland Tackle makes some excellent soft plastics for the decoy rig and they will pull a few fish throughout the day. The Mini-Smelt and Bloodworm imitate the perch’s natural forage and when put on the 2-Fly Rig with that extra flash created by the fly, they put keep the interest of the fish peaked.
The fishing was steady all day, dropped the 2-Fly Rig down the water column, catch a perch. Drop the rig down, give it a jiggle and catch a perch. Drop the rig down, drag it around the boat a bit and …you guessed it….catch a perch.
After that wind shift out of the east that we always seem to get this time of the year, someone chirped on the radio that the bite had ceased. I told my buddy I have something for that, I busted out the Enhancer product from Lure Lipstick and gave it a couple of squirts and dropped it down. There wasn’t any waiting period as the rod telegraphed that tell-tale thump and another perch came up the water column. That one and the next five literally inhaled the minnow and fly combination and helped us knock off the next twenty fish to reach the century mark.
Nothing like getting your limits, bringing the fish back to clean and having exactly the numbers you are supposed to have in the cooler. We stopped fishing when the counter on the Catch Counter reached 100. I iced everything up that night because a storm was rolling in and I couldn’t set the Tumble Drumm scalers up in the rain. Something to do with electric motors and moisture…etc. Monday morning hits and I roll out of bed and hit the shop to get everything set up to clean some perch. I have two of the scalers and started counting them, 25 in each one. After they were done, I counted them out again, 25 each. The Catch Counter has never failed me in keeping an accurate count which can be huge. The last thing I want to do is be one or two fish over my limit just in case one of those green trucks pull up to the boat at the launch!
Can’t wait to check the weather and pick out a day to get back out!