I usually fish for nothing other than small and largemouth bass. But when it comes to catching bass I practice catch and release. And this has always been a complaint with my wife. She loves eating fish as well as the next person. Finally, a few years back I made the decision to satisfy her pallet, not to mention mine.
One late Fall I was fishing smallmouth, and I couldn’t buy a bite. It was then I thought, why should this day be a total loss. Maybe I can catch a nice batch of perch. From time to time I had seen schools of them pass on my graph recorder screen, so it was just a matter of finding them again.
Not having any worms, I chose a small plastic minnow and cut it down to about an inch and a half so a perch could get it in its small mouth. I then I nose hooked it on a dropshot set up. (that’s a sinker at the end of the line, and the hook tied a foot or so up the line.) I found a school of perch in about 27 feet of water. Putting my boat over the top of them, I dropped my offering to the bottom. I was surprised that the bites were far and few in between. It was then I thought, maybe it might help if I apply some fish attractant to the plastic. Having a jar of garlic flavored Smelly Jelly in the boat, I smeared some on the bait. The rest is history. The bite was fast and furious. In a couple of hours I caught well over 50 perch, only keeping twenty or so that were ten inches and larger so as to get nice filets. That night the wife and I had a fish feast that had both of us contentedly patting our bellies. My wife then made me take a solemn oath that I would take a little time out of each day to catch more for future meals. Now when the bass bite slows, I regularly spend an hour or two fishing for perch. And in the late fall before the weather gets too nasty, I devote my entire day to stocking our freezer for the winter.
Now it may sound as if catching perch is just a walk in the park, but that is not all together true. To prove this out, last fall a Game Department biologist was at the boat launch. She checked my icebox full of nice-sized perch and seemed surprised at my numbers. She said she had done a creel check on four other perch fishermen. None had more than five perch big enough to take home. Because I don’t want to make this a “how-to” fishing story, I won’t go into detail. But I have found little tricks that make my day far more successful.
I have since modified that first little plastic offering I used. I now have a small grub I pour myself, which I prefer using rather than worms or perch meat. The most important reason is unlike worms and perch strips, the perch don’t swallow the plastic, making for lip hooks and easy unhooking. I’ve heard of anglers using minnows, worms, perch meat, maggots, and even perch eyeballs. To be honest, I believe a good fish attractant is just as effective, and a heck of a lot less messy.
As far as preparing, my recepe is very simple. I dip my filets in egg and then shake them in flour before dropping them in hot vegetable oil. A crispy quick browning on each side, and they are done. I then season them to our tastes.
I have eaten walleye, which is a cousin of perch, but, personally, I think perch have a sweeter taste. And on light tackle they are actually fun to catch.