Mid- to late fall usually finds few perch anglers on the water, however nonetheless gives ample choices for diehards prepared to hold in there till winter closes the guide on one other openwater season. The October-November timeframe gives a wide range of eventualities for sag-bellied jumbo yellow perch throughout the continent.

Beginning within the East, Jim Gronaw—longtime In-Fisherman contributor on panfish matters—notes two vastly totally different eventualities every providing probabilities for perch surpassing the foot mark, and tipping the size effectively over a pound.

“Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake is a premier perch fishery,” he says. “Throughout summer season, the three,900-acre lake is a vacationer lure. However come fall, when the crowds go dwelling, its weedy coves and flats are nice locations to persistently catch perch measuring 13 inches or higher.” Gronaw has damaged the 2-pound barrier whereas fishing Deep Creek in winter, so he is aware of big perch are potential.

Sunken Gardens

The Deep Creek Lake setup is much like numerous pure lakes and impoundments the place wholesome stands of vegetation persist into autumn. In line with Gronaw, weedbeds in 7 to eight toes of water, together with deeper beds in 18 to twenty toes, are Meccas of late-season perch exercise. The variance in depths on Deep Creek largely displays which aspect of the lake you are on—the shallow, fertile higher finish or its deeper, much less eutrophic decrease reaches. “Rocky factors on the similar approximate depths may be good, too,” he notes.

To focus on weed perch, he suspends a 1/16-ounce, bright-colored jighead tipped with a dwell fathead or medium shiner beneath a Thill River Grasp float. Drifting edges and choosing pockets or slots within the salad works effectively, no less than till lake managers decrease the water stage for the winter. “This brings weeds that had been 4 toes from the floor proper to the highest, and makes it troublesome to fish the inside of the beds,” he says. “At that time, edges are the place it is at.”

Tidal Wave Perch

Bobbering shallow weeds works in Deep Creek and different inland lakes, however the swirling depths of tidal rivers just like the decrease Susquehanna and different Chesapeake Bay tributaries provide a special, however equally interesting fall perch situation.

“Everybody round right here fishes yellow perch throughout the spawning run in February and March, however few folks goal them now,” Gronaw says. “Perch are nearly into their wintering part, holding in deep holes and on ledges in 20 to 40 toes of water. They’re catchable on bladebaits or spoons tipped with minnows, however you might want to play the tide as a result of each six hours the fish relocate, tucking behind ledges or humps as the present adjustments.”

Prime displays embrace 1/4- to three/8-ounce Kastmasters, Swedish Pimples, Reef Runner Cicadas, and bucktail jigs, tipped with a 2-inch mummichog or “bull” minnow, impaled via the nostril or cranium. “You can even stack two 1/8-ounce lures—similar to a spoon on the underside and bucktail on prime—18 to 24 inches aside on a single rig,” he notes.

Nice Lakes Bonanza

Craig Lewis, proprietor of Erie Outfitters in Cleveland, says now’s the time to faucet large numbers of Lake Erie perch 11 inches and up. “That is one of the best time to catch the largest fish,” he says. “The colleges are tighter than in summer season, in order that they’re simpler to focus on. Plus, the fish are shifting shallower—into depths of 28 to 32 toes—following the minnow migration towards shore.”

Lewis experiences most perch patrollers wield spreader or backside rigs tipped with emerald shiners, however doctored jigging spoons and Jigging Rapalas are gaining floor among the many ranks of significant trophy hunters. “Take away the treble hook and exchange it with a 4-inch dropper of 8-pound fluorocarbon,” he says. “Add a #4 long-shank hook and a lip-hooked shiner and also you’re in enterprise.”

Light jigstrokes are the rule. Lewis lifts the jig about 12 inches, after which lets it fall slowly again towards backside. “The concept is to begin a contest among the many perch,” he explains. “When an enormous perch sees what it believes are smaller perch attacking the minnow, it instinctively reacts by grabbing the bait.” Perch-colored spoons and Jigging Raps assist the phantasm, he notes.

Upstream on Michigan and Ontario’s Lake St. Clair, big-water panfish fiend Joe Balog finds October and November perch regarding comparatively shallow vegetation, in depths from 6 to 13 toes. “They’re beginning to college now, however have not fairly made the transfer into harbors or the primary lake basin,” he says. “The secret is discovering them. When you do, catching them is straightforward.”

Like Gronaw, his favourite setup hinges on inexperienced weeds, particularly a lush, still-green stand of cabbage sprouting alongside a slow-tapering transition from sand to smooth backside. “The perfect beds are usually positioned on the primary lake, the place they’re brushed with a contact of wind and present,” he notes.

Forage can also be a driving pressure in figuring out which weeds maintain fish. “This time of yr, perch might eat a goby right here and crayfish there, however they’re searching for large faculties of shiners,” he says.

With an extended ultralight spinning outfit, Balog weeds out unproductive water by deftly working artificials via the higher reaches of cabbage canopies. Go-to baits embrace an 1/8-ounce Johnson Beetle Spin, small in-line spinner, and 2- to 3-inch tube rigged on a 1/8- to three/16-ounce jighead. He favors flashy, shiner-like finishes for spinners, however likes watermelon or smoke-and-purple patterns in tubes.

The presentation is straightforward however lethal. “Say you are on a cabbage mattress rising to inside 2 toes of the floor in 10 toes of water,” he explains. “Make an extended forged. Let the lure settle a few toes, then start a gradual, swimming retrieve that ticks the weedtops. Perch holding within the weeds rise as much as crush it, or no less than comply with it to the boat.”

To show the lookers into biters, Balog retains a second rod rigged with a throwback bait prepared. For instance, a tube gives nice backup for a Beetle Spin. “Backside line, if there are perch in a cabbage patch, you recognize it inside a forged or two,” he provides.

As soon as on a scorching college, Balog milks as many fish as potential by casting artificials, then drops anchor and switches to a double-hook perch rig or single-hook slipbobber rig. Each setups are baited with dwell emerald shiners, which he says are one of the best baits by far for fall jumbos.

A late-fall perch bonanza additionally awaits on southern Lake Michigan, says Captain Ralph Steiger, who runs charters from Chicago, Illinois, to Hammond, Indiana. “October is often fairly quiet till round Halloween,” he says, explaining that the motion steadily picks up off Calumet Park in 28 to 35 toes of water. However the chew shifts into excessive gear from early to mid-November, when numbers of perch working 12 to fifteen inches are taken in 41- to 51-foot depths on clay flats 1 to 4 miles offshore.

“That is prime time for giant perch,” he says. “Fish over 2 1/2 kilos are potential. Relying on the climate, the chew can final into December.”

Tapping southern Lake Michigan’s November chew is much from a no brainer. With scattered faculties of bottom-hugging jumbos roaming a featureless expanse, Steiger depends on electronics similar to his Lowrance HDS-10 Gen2 sonar to identify low-riding pods of portly perch. “I zoom in so all I see is the underside 3 to 4 toes of the water column,” he says. “It takes some looking, however while you discover the fish, you possibly can restrict out in a rush.”

As soon as fish are marked, he deploys a perch fly rig consisting of a 10-pound fluorocarbon dropper, 3/4- to 2-ounce sinker, and two weightless hair flies tied on #2 or #4 hooks unfold 10 to 12 inches aside, with the bottom jig using about 10 inches above the sinker. Orange and chartreuse are prime colours in honest climate, and white or pink beneath cloudy skies.

Every hook holds a big, nose-hooked fathead or small golden shiner. “An important factor about fishing this rig is, when the sinker hits backside, let it lie there, so there is a slight bow in your line,” Steiger says. “With a high quality rod and low-stretch braid or premium 8-pound mono mainline, you are feeling a tick when a perch hits.” Protecting the baits hovering barely off backside usually nets probably the most perch, whereas permitting the whole rig to recline on the clay nets the trophies of the journey.

Plains Patterns

On the Excessive Plains paradise often known as Devils Lake, North Dakota, fall perch may be arduous to search out, however well worth the effort as soon as contact is made. “Colleges are roaming and hard to pin down,” says veteran information Jason Feldner, proprietor of Perch-Eyes Information Service. “It takes a variety of work to search out them, however when you do, you possibly can actually rack up some numbers.”

To slender the lake’s 160,000 acres into manageable parts, he focuses on basic late-season haunts similar to shallow bays that includes sand or gravel backside. Key depths vary from 10 to 14 toes. In search mode, he pulls nightcrawler harnesses behind backside bouncers, straining water till the telltale tap-tap-tap of an aggressive perch betrays its extra secretive schoolmates’ location.

“There is not any mistaking a perch chew, even in case you do not hook the fish,” says Feldner. “As soon as I discover them, I anchor to remain on prime of the varsity.”

Slipbobber setups and tightlining each shine in such eventualities. “I rig a half-inch piece of ‘crawler on a 1/32-ounce, inexperienced Lindy Jig or Watsit Grub, drop it to the extent of the fish, and deadstick it—letting wave or boat motion impart simply sufficient motion to curiosity passing perch,” he notes.

Nebraska’s sandhills provide a nearly untapped fall perch nirvana, as many of the outside crowd focuses on different pursuits. “As soon as looking seasons open, solely a handful of fellows are on the water,” says Daryl Bauer, a biologist with the state’s Sport and Parks Fee.

The few remaining anglers afloat get first crack at jumbo perch and different panfish which have hidden in a cloak of thick weedgrowth all summer season. “Submergent vegetation dies again in fall, and the fish turn into extra accessible to anglers as they roam flats outdoors the previous beds,” he explains.

Construction is scarce within the Sandhills’ shallow, bowl-shaped basin lakes, and most depths run lower than 10 toes. To cowl water in search mode, Bauer recommends drifting a small chunk of nightcrawler or crayfish tail on a lightweight jig or small spinner rig. “Bounce it alongside backside till you discover the fish,” he says.

Perch develop shortly within the area’s productive lakes. “There are many 10s and 12s, with 14-inchers potential,” he says. Choices abound, however a trifecta of prime waters embrace Blue, Crescent, and Island lakes, all in or close to the Crescent Lake Nationwide Wildlife Refuge.

For jumbo seekers inside road-trip vary, this trio of waters—like the opposite locations we have detailed—gives an ideal venue to pattern catching perch in fall. If journey is not an possibility, chances are high you possibly can nonetheless put a number of of those patterns to work on your house waters, and revel in last-minute perching earlier than winter closes the curtain on our open-water adventures.

*Dan Johnson, Harris, Minnesota, is a frequent contributor to In-Fisherman publications and director of All Creation Outside Media. Contact: Craig Lewis, Erie Outfitters, 440/949-8934, erieoutfitters.com; Capt. Ralph Steiger, 219/688-3593, captainsteiger.com; Information Jason Feldner, 701/351-1294, percheyes.com; Information Jeff Sundin, 218/246-2375, jeffsundin.com.

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