Archive for the ‘Perch Fishing’ Category

The New BigMouth CatchCounter: counting perch, bluegills, crappie and more

Monday, July 14th, 2014



Like many walleye anglers around the Great Lakes when late July and August roll around my attention turns towards those tasty yellow bellied treats known as Perch!  Even fisherman who do not put their boats in for chasing walleye come out in droves when it comes to the annual perch season.  Often the bite can be hot and heavy with slinging multiple perch into the cooler, one after another.


With that in mind, while combining either Ohio’s limit of 30 perch or Michigan’s larger amount of 50 per angler, keeping an accurate count can be difficult to say the least.  It is time-consuming to stop fishing and take several minutes to check multiple times to be sure of a precise number in the cooler.  I even thought of using a clicker like the one above, this was even before they started showing up in fishing catalogs and local bait shops for sale.  The problem with the clickers is that before long somebody in the boat will eventually ask, “Did you count that last one?”.  Which will lead you to ask, “Who’s last one?”.  And the vicious cycle of putting the rod down and start counting the individual perch all over again.


Original Catch Counter

Original CatchCounter




Two years ago I found the solution to my perch counting problem, The CatchCounter.  Made locally in Port Clinton, Ohio, the counter kept track of the number of perch going into my cooler, while keeping them on ice as well!  As I wrote in a previous article, I learned of The Catch Counter from a friend of mine who sent a link for a Craigslist posting, I contacted the owner, Tony Sebastiano.  Tony was great, explained everything about the counters to me and went with getting just the counter myself, had an old cooler, cut my hole in the lid and was ready rock n roll on Lake Erie.  The counter was great, never had an issue with it and has performed flawlessly for the last couple of seasons.

BigMouth Catch Counter

BigMouth CatchCounter


I will say this about Tony, you can tell that he has a passion for his product because he works all the time to improve it for the panfishing minded consumer.  Responding to feedback he has introduced the new BigMouth CatchCounter.  Crappie anglers in the South wanted the opening to be bigger for their crappie that grow rapidly in their warm southern climates.  Tony made it bigger, stronger, more durable, with even a more accurate counter.



There are three options when buying the BigMouth CatchCounter, well actually four and will get into that also.  First you can order just the counter itself, and then mount it to any flat surface storage area.  The second option is that you can buy the counter mounted on a 5 gallon Bass Pro Bucket.  I like this option for ice fishing because it is easy to store.  The third option is to have it come mounted on a 48 quart cooler, which is really nice for fishing the big lakes and handles the larger limits with ease.


The fourth option is actually the best deal of all, if you can get five of your friends to order at the same time, you actually can get just the BigMouth CatchCounter heads for  five dollars cheaper per unit.  Don’t have five panfishing friends, that issue can be solved, because I bet two or three of the people you do know, know a few other anglers who would want one also.  Installing the heads are fairly easy to do yourself, and most folks have an old cooler or bucket lying around.

If you ice fish like I do, it is easy to first install the counter on a cooler, and then because it is so easy to take the head off, you can then use it on a bucket for ice fishing.  If your experiences on the ice are anything like mine, once you start throwing bluegill, crappe and perch on the ice, you tend to quickly attract a crowd near  you.  By keeping them in a bucket, it is a little easier to hide the fact that you are on a hot bite.  Instead of laying them on the ice to get a count, which can draw attention, the CatchCounter does it for you.

Once I hang up the walleye gear for the summer, will be posting lots of pics of the BigMouth CatchCounter from the boat, and later on when the ice gets solid, from the hardwater too!

If you want to see one of the units for yourself, you can check them out at these locations:

-Matthew’s Bait&Tackle, Monroe Miahigan

-Fin/Feather/Fur-4 Ohio Locations. Canton,Ashland,Middleburg Heights and Youngstown.

-Ravenna Marine-Ravenna,Ohio
- FISHERMANS WHARF – Port Clinton, Ohio
- A&J BAIT – West Lakeshore Dr., Port Clinton, Ohio
- LAKE SHORE BAIT & TACKLE – Ashtabula, Ohio
- BAD BOY BAIT & TACKLE – Vermilion, Ohio 


Copyright, 2014


It was a Perchy Weekend

Monday, September 16th, 2013


Perch fishing on Saturday was a lesson in bait versus gas money.  Bait won, but not without a little turmoil in the process. I called far and wide in search of emerald shiners before heading out in the afternoon.  From up near to Erie Metro, to down by Turtle Island, and every place in between,  before choosing a place on Jefferson, who guaranteed they had emeralds.  When we got there, the kid working informed us it was a mix of “shiners”.  Think the kid knew we were a bit upset, because the scoops that went in the bucket looked big enough to be four scoops anywhere else I have been in years!


We set up in a pack of boats near Stoney Pointe, and in 30 minutes, maybe had five fish in the Catch Counter cooler.  Ok, this where I do a quick plug for a pretty sweet product, the Catch Counter.  The unit mounts pretty easily to a cooler or even a bucket, and the bucket set-up can be used for all seasons as it will fit nicely in an ice fishing sled or shanty.  They are well worth the cost, I have had (and still do) have the little handcounters that you click for each fish, and the concept is great, if you actually remember to click it for each fish!  Been there and done that, and just got tired of all the second guessing, trying to remember countless times during a trip if that fish or the one before was counted or not. It is even worse when there are multiple people in the boat tossing in perch, while you are trying to fish at the same time.  Throw in the fact that it is not worth the cost of the ticket to have an unreliable count, and you will want to be sure too.  They are made down by Port Clinton, Ohio, and you can find them locally (according to the website) at Trout’s, Rose Marina, and Fisherman’s Cave down on Summit St.  Pretty sure I saw them at Matthews Bait and Tackle, also, but I would call ahead to make sure of that.  Alright, counting rant over, back to the perching.


After that first half hour, we moved to the eastern side of the pack, in 23 foot of water.  The first 20 minutes or so were about as unproductive as the first stop and we started discussing where to go next.  Then my neighbor Cliff popped a couple of nice 9 inch fish, and I picked up a couple of small ones that went back in to grow.  A little times goes by, and its approaching 5:30 pm.  We start talking about moving again, and then they turned on for the last hour and half we were out before it got dark.

It wasn’t exactly what we call a “flurry” of action, but with the time and bait left, it was enough to hold us there.  Except for the occasionally swallowed hook, the large percentage of the fish that went in the cooler were 8 inches or bigger.  We ended up with 32 that night, and decided to call it quits when the sun touched the trees behind the rock wall at Sterling State Park.


Went back out again Sunday morning, and popped another 44 in the same place. Would have stayed in later, but we both had stuff to do.  Besides, the Tigers and Lions were both on television!  All in all, it was a good weekend, and on Saturday I got some pictures of what could be the prettiest sunset on Erie I have ever seen.



Copyright, 2013

Perch Fishing is Picking Up!

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

It might not be in high gear yet, but the August/September perch bite on Lake Erie is showing signs of life.  Made it out last Friday and Saturday, and although we did not limit out either day, all but three fish were eight inches or bigger.  A positive sign that there could be some nice catches ahead!


This nice 9 inch perch came on one of the homemade perch rigs, I call it a hybrid because I combine the traditional perch rig by using one 4 inch hook lear, and a single hook rigged up like the tightline rig about three inches above the arm. To get a third hook on the rig, I attached another snell to the snap used with the weight.

Actually, if you do not have time to play around and experiment, I suggest using a single lear tied on above the snap. 90+% of the fish we catch come on the bottom hook and off that single lear, which puts your bait about two inches off the bottom.  In the long run it will save you some minnows, and while fishing the single arm keeps two minnows hooked up near the perch’s strike zone, the lake bottom where they actively feed.

The top arm will catch fish, but not as many as the bottom two.  I do like to run that top arm though when I have some really big shiners in the bucket.  These bigger baits seem to act as a decoy, or provide a bigger profile to call the perch in from a distance.  Sometimes they nail it, sometimes they settle for the smaller minnows on the bottom hooks.  They also tend to stay alive longer, and their constant wounded action is another factor to bring in a school.

I find it a good idea to fish two rods at a time.  It can be troublesome at times, but there is a method to my madness.  Example, the perch are actively feeding, you get a hit and bring your line up.  Now those fish are down there with nothing to hold their interest, more often than not, they swim off leaving you behind while they search for food. At least when you have another rig in the water, even in a rod holder, they have a reason to stay in the area.

Copyright, 2013


What Makes a Good Perch Rod

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

One of the recent posts I saw over on one of the forum websites dealt with a question, or the author wanting ideas on what kind of perch rod to buy.  I have done this post before, but it is worth revisiting since there are new people looking each year for a good perch rod.  You should have a “perch” system in mind when purchasing a new rod.  That means you know what reel and line will go with the rod to make it work best for you personally.

Some will want a medium rod, maybe even a medium light action, but we are not talking a walleye rod, nor a pole for bass fishing.  In my opinion, those are just too heavy.  With rods like those, you miss the subtle bite that sometimes finicky perch will approach your bait with.

The best two rods in my estimation when it comes to perch fishing is either a light action one, or an ultra light. Short of hooking into one of the Detroit River or Brest Bay muskies, these two rods will bring anything up to the boat, including walleye with the drag set correctly.  To me I would not suggest going longer than 6 ft. 6 inches (which I have with a light action St. Croix Premier) or a 6 ft. ultra light rod, also a St. Croix Premier.

My reel choices would be something in the 1000 to 2000 size, depending on the rod you choose to fish with.  Daiwa makes some of the best reels in the world, and if you were to choose either a Lexa or an Aird, they will last you a lifetime of perch fishing.  Both are quality that is hard to beat in a mid-priced spinning reel.







Now to cap off the right set up, choose your line wisely.  A good braid like Suffix 832, in the 6 lb. weight, will get the job done nicely. You could choose 10 lb. test if you plan on using the reel for fishing another species, but I would prefer 6 lb.  Once you put on some mono backing, you can fill up the rest of the spool with the braid, and that one package should last you several years of fishing, well worth the extra costs of using a braid.  More importantly, that braid will allow you feel everything going on at the other end of the line.  Draw your rod up tight at the handle, get the rod to bow slightly, and you have a fine tuned set up for perch fishing.


Copyright, 2013


New Twist on an Old Perch Rig: Brand New

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Saturday night I am playing out in the shop, making up some perch rigs, reorganizing my kit. Always trying to build a better mouse trap.  The best thing about fishing sometimes is just basically tinkering with old ideas, and either adopting a concept here and there, or coming up with a new application for an unrelated idea.

You know the standard in perch fishing well enough by now.  You can even add a 3rd hook to the snap used to attach your weight to increase your chances of catching more fish.  It works great, over the last two years most of my perch have come on that bottom hook.



Last year I started playing with the idea that most of the perch do not come on the top lear (wire arm).  The ones that do seem to bite at the top minnow are often the small, young perch. More often than not, they just steal the minnow off the hook.  My observation over the years is that the bigger perch are more of the bottom hugging variety. So I made up a bunch of rigs with just a single lear, and use that snelled hook with the one coming off of the weight snap.  Lost fewer minnows, and it seemed to catch more fish, win, win in my book.

Now we go back to Saturday night and tying up the rigs out in the shop, I look at the bottom of my kit, which is just an old kitty litter tub.


I look at the bottom of the tub and find some of the tightline rigs that I tied up, very similar to this one from Domka Outdoors.


The wheels start turning, coming up with a new way to get three hooks into the area called the strike zone. I ended up combining the semi traditional one arm rig, with the tightline rig.  By doing so, I put three hooks into a thirteen inch area from the bottom of the lake.


Sunday morning I put it to the test, and the results were good, caught two triples while putting a two-man limit in the “Catch Counter”.  LOVE that thing, because I was always messing up my count using the standard clicker.  So worth the investment!



Copyright, 2013

Today is the Last Day, Free Shipping at Jann’s Netcraft

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Today is the last day (July 7, 2013) for free shipping on orders of $50 or more online with Jann’s Netcraft. Enter the code X84776 at the code at the checkout step at the end of the process.

After gearing up with some extras for the perch fishing that is to come, it doesn’t take long to rack up a 50 buck plus bill with all the goodies available at .  I picked up some new colors and reloaded on some faves in 5 mm beads.  These beads get used on the snells above the hook, below the Indiana blade, and they also get used tying up the two arm styled perch rig.  While I was cruising through the beads, I added some new colors to the 6 mm bead collection, $6.99 is a fair price when getting a 1000 count in a particular color.  Throw in the free shipping, and it is a really good price!


In addition I picked up 100 more hook lears.  I really like the 4 inch ones since they get the hook further away from the rigs main vertical line, cuts down on the tangles.  You get 50 for $10.84, and that is 25 rigs when tied up, which is a lot.  Specially when you reuse rigs that get torn up over time, just tear them apart and rebuild them as you need too.  BUT, believe me, once your perch fishing friends find out you know how to make them, they will ask you to put some together for them. Good way to make a little minnow money…wink, wink.  Worst case, you make your parts money back and get to buy some more!

The best part is that you made them yourself, they will catch you just as much perch as any store-bought rig.  They save you money over a couple of seasons, you get to build them to your specs, you can reuse them, and your friends will think  you are brilliant! Well, at least when it comes to catching perch ;)

Copyright, 2013

Perch Rig Options: a comprehensive look at making your own tackle

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Just yesterday I was thinking of making up some perch rigs with spoons and short leaders. Its something I have done before with good results, this morning I went to write about it and I had a comment on an older post, “Please provide the link”.  I found the original post with converting ice fishing spoons to perch rigs and gave the reader the link. Looking back, while locating the original, there have been seven posts that were dedicated to anglers making their own rigs, or gearing up for perch fishing.  This article will have all those links, with a brief description of the content.

Here is the post that was asked about.  Converting ice fishing spoons like Northland Tackle’s Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon, and either rigging them with an ice jig, a leader and a hook and some plastic options.


This article was dedicated to using plastics to catch perch in open water.  Many of the baits are similar to Northland’s and although the links for the article are no longer viable, you can find most of the Little Atom product at Sportsmen’s Direct on their website, or in the store up on Lake St. Clair.  Although live bait is my first choice almost always, these soft plastics have their time and place, and will keep you fishing if you run out of minnows.


This rig is similar to the standard rig, but can be made up quickly on the fly if you need a rig right away.  No lears (metal arms), some line, couple of hooks and some beads.


This is just a quick example of using a single hook rig for putting perch in the cooler.  Its simple, and it works!


This piece is an example of the traditional rig, they are easy to make, and you can get all the parts at Jann’s Netcraft down in Ohio or on their website.


Here is a novel twist on the classic perch/crappie rig, using two sizes of lears to avoid some tangles and give the fish another presentation.


This article brings it altogether, including all components, into one neat way to organize all your gear into a  complete kit.


Copyright, 2013

Getting Ready for 2013 Walleye Season with Molds from Do-It

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Even thought it is the wrong time of the year to be thinking about open water walleye fishing, I find myself planning for next spring already. Good or bad, I actually started looking back in October on the Do-It Mold website and had them mail out a catalog.  One nice thing was that they included a 25% off offer for folks placing a direct order for the first time.  That actually took a little sting out of placing an order so close to Christmas time.

This is going to be my big leap into pouring lead for the first time, so I did a lot of research on melting pot options.  I asked guys I know who have done it before, specifically their likes and dislikes.   I chose Lee Pro 4-20 self pouring, 110 volt model.  It has a 20 pound lead capacity, that is 320, one ounce jigs at a time!


Even though I was not going to out of control in ordering things I might like to have, when it came to the molds, I ordered the ones I knew for a fact that I would get the most use out of right away.


Going left to right, I can use bell sinkers for just about any application.  The lighter ones for drop shotting for bass, and I know, people who know me are screaming….”WHAT???” because I mentioned bass fishing.  Truth be told, the drop shot approach is a lot of fun, it reminds me a little of jigging for walleye a little bit.  Then there is always live bait rigging with a three-way swivel, and that works with panfish and walleye. OK, just got a thought for a new approach for pike and muskie under a float, will have to save that for another day after I toy with the idea a little more.  Mostly I chose this mold for perch fishing and went with the brass eyelet versus the swivel model because it just looked like a better product.  Besides, there is already a swivel at the top of the perch rigs that I make, and usually a snap and swivel on the main line attaching to the rig.


Second from the left is the Walleye Head Jig mold.  Bottom left in this picture. There several types to choose from, but the WHJ-7-AR model has a ring and a barb for better securing plastic like a Wyandotte Worm or a Fin-S Minnow.  It still doesn’t hurt to carry around a tube of crazy glue in your jig box just in case, not only for securing the baits to the jigs, but repairs to the plastics from bites, as well.

The next two choices were simple to make, starting with the Vibrating Lure or what has become simply called blade baits on Lake Erie.  This type of lure works the best it seems when spring rains turn the lake into stained tea or chocolate soup.  The vibrations created on the lift call the fish in, and they seem to thump it when it hits the bottom or right at the beginning of the next lift.

The Ultra Minnow Head Jig mold over on the far right was the one I really wanted the most.


The plan is to work this winter on tying my own hair jigs for the spring bite down on the Maumee Bay.  It looks like last year’s big buy from TJ’s Tackle and all the powder painting equipment and supplies are going to be put through a workout this winter.  In the picture above I already got started with some 5/8ths oz jigs that I had gotten off Ebay earlier in the fall.  You cannot give an angler a new tool and expect it to sit on the shelf until it is time use it!

Will the average angler ever justify getting all the gear to make your own lures and rigs?  Possibly,  maybe not, but do not under-estimate the thrill and feeling of success  whether you catch that one monster for the wall, or simply fish after fish. Knowing you did do that can be a measure of success all on its own.

Copyright, 2012

The CatchCounter: keep track of your Perch, Gills and Crappie

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Recently I had an old fishing buddy send me a link for a device that would automatically count perch as fast as I could catch them, the CatchCounter.  I checked out the link on Craigslist and then I did what I always do, I “googled” and found the direct website: .  After browsing through the site, I wanted to learn a little more info and decided to fill out the form and send an email.

Last Friday I got a response, and it was followed up with a phone call Saturday morning.  I was talking with Tony Sebastiano, the owner and innovator who designed the CatchCounter.  I asked him how he came up with the idea for building the contraption, and as he started to explain, his story was something I could really relate to from my own experiences. How many times have you used one of those fish “clicker” counters and the perch are coming up so quick, you have to stop and think, did I get that last one?  It is even worse when you have multiple people fishing and they start second guessing themselves too.  Lets face it, the DNR will not care if it was an honest mistake or not, if you are over the limit, you will get a ticket!

The CatchCounter can be mounted on multiple platforms that have a flat surface like coolers, livewells and bucket lids. During the discussion it really hit me that this makes the unit something I can use throughout the year, for all four seasons. Spring, summer and fall while on the boat I can have it mounted on a cooler for crappie, perch and bluegill.  I checked out a previous device that fit on a bucket, but it really wasn’t too practical. Whether I am fishing in Ohio waters where the limit is 30 perch, or on the Michigan side with being able to keep 50, you start to run out of room in a bucket and don’t even think about trying to squeeze any ice in there too. You really had to take the lid off every once in a while and dump them into a cooler with ice in it.  The CatchCounter eliminates this step and because you are not constantly opening and shutting a cooler, your ice lasts longer!

During the winter when I am ice fishing, I can take it off the cooler and mount it to a bucket lid to keep track of the fish being caught.  This makes its versatility a space saver, because realistically who carries a cooler onto the ice to put their fish in?  The answer would be nobody does, but everyone carries a bucket! It can go into the sled when walking on the ice, or in the shack when I am pulling it with the quad.

Another thought just hit me and it could be the difference between a lot of money, or getting shut out in a tournament.  After spending 11 years on the competitive ice fishing circuits, I have seen my fair share of counting miscues.  Guys come to the station a fish short of their limit, after catching more than enough to fill their tourney bucket.  Worse is when they come in one fish over the limit and get disqualified, or penalized to the point they fall out of the money!  The CatchCounter is definitely going on the road with me this year.

I already have my cooler and bucket lid picked out for installation and cannot wait to use the CatchCounter this weekend out on Lake Erie.  Later in the fall when the perch run slows down, will be using it out in Irish Hills for the fall bluegill bite.  On the ice, it is definitely going with me to Ludington for the panfish tournament so I don’t mess up my count at the weigh-in!

Additional information, if you want to download the CatchCounter brochure in a pdf format here is the link for it:

Copyright, 2012


Weekend Perching on Erie: 9/15/12

Monday, September 17th, 2012

After what seemed like a month of the lake it was time to hit again and work on putting some perch in the freezer.  Spent Friday night pulling the St. Croix ultra lights out of the rod tubes that I used for the Upper Peninsula trip, checking the braid on the spinning reels.  Then gave the perch kit the once over, had enough rigs made up for Saturday, but going to have to make up some more snells and rigs for any future trips.

First stop was to hit Jeff’s Bait and Tackle and load up on shiners and then launch out of Sterling State Park.  Got five scoops of what they called “silver shiners”, and they seemed to worked alright.  I have a feeling that since all the bait shops were out of emeralds, the perch didn’t have much of choice if they were in the biting mood.

The first stop,  in front of the beach in 18 foot of water started pretty slow.  Then it was boom-boom action with some pretty nice ones in the 9 to 10 inch range.  We were doing better than some of the boats in the area and it wasn’t long before the action warranted breaking out my second Premier rod to try and double up on a hot bite.

The other nice thing about having two rods in the water at the same time is having the ability to hold the perch’s attention long enough to get the second rod down as quickly as possible.  Lets face it, this end of Erie does not have much structure and it really is one of those classic “flats” type of bites. Not having bait down there for any length of time often causes the perch to move on to next presentation available.

It did not take long for that little hot bite to dry up, and after 20 minutes we moved to the end of the River Raisin channel.  We had caught fourteen or fifteen nice fish there, but the choice was simple wait for the chance they might come back, or move and find some more active fish.  Action was slow at the second stop, and we moved to an old spot between the first two sets of buoys, but missed our hump in the area and caught nothing.

Next stop was east of the pack of boats in 23 foot of water and caught a few here and there, but not enough action to hold us.  Off to towards the Pointe we went for what would be our last stop of the day.  We made a few moves inside the pack, but finally got the bite dialed in and started popping fish left and right.  Even when I would drop a rod to reel in the other one, the fish were hitting the elevated rig well off the bottom.  They were aggressive to be sure.  We ended the day with our limit of 100.



OK, time for the helpful hints portion of the write-up.

1)  Fishing with two rods is really easy, and highly effective if you do it right.  Ten years ago I would fish with my right hand, hook a fish and switch the rod to my left hand to start reeling.  Its because I learned to fish with a bait caster set up first instead of spinning gear.  Ice fishing taught me that I am better at finesse jigging a bluegill with my right hand, so I forced myself to learn how to reel with my left hand.

If you are not comfortable reeling with either hand, perch fishing is an excellent way to learn, no matter how  awkward it might feel.  All you have to do is keep constant pressure and the keep fish heading up the water column.  The best set up is to have your spinning reel’s handles set up for reeling with your opposite hand.  I promise it will not take long before you are comfortable catching fish in either hand.

2)  Braid as your main line on your reel is huge when it comes to detecting bites.  The no stretch principles will quickly tell you if its a bite, fish brushing your line, or if you dropped the sinker on their heads.

3)  I like shorter rods, and ultra lights the best.  But, if I had to pick another rod for some all around use, a 6’6″ light action is a nice choice, too.  I take my St. Croix Premier’s, and with the tip near the water, let the line fall off the spool until it stops.  Then close the bail and draw the rod up until there is a tight bend in the rod while keeping contact on the bottom with the sinker.  What’s the old saying, “Tight as a fiddle.” ?  That is what it is like with the braided line drawn up tight, you feel everything!

4)  The lead can be the key to keeping that line tight.  I keep an assortment of weights for my perch rigs in a small Plano box.  On Saturday, the 1 ounce weights proved to be the most effective.  It can vary from day to day, or trip to trip.  It pays to have a range from .5 to 1.5 ounces to change out quickly if need be.

Copyright, 2012