Lake Erie Perch Anglers and other vacationers planning a visit to Put-in-Bay this summer will not want to miss out on the fishing fun provided by Lake Erie’s yellow perch, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. Fishing for this popular species has all the ingredients for the perfect family activity while visiting Put-in-Bay.
“Perch jerking” is fun and affordable, and requires the simplest of fishing techniques. They are abundant, widespread, and easy to catch. A family can go to a shoreline pier or break wall or out in a small boat around Put-in-Bay and catch good-sized Lake Erie Perch without expensive or sophisticated equipment. As an added bonus, catches of this tastiest-fish-in-the-lake can provide the evening meal and is served at many Put-in-Bay Restaurants. Catches range 8 to 12 inches, which are relatively large for Lake Erie Perch.
Each year, Put-in-Bay anglers fill their coolers with more yellow Lake Erie Perch. Despite the popularity of walleye, yellow perch takes center stage in late summer and fall. While some anglers fish for yellow perch spring through fall, the traditional perch fishing months are August through October when perch are concentrated in large schools near shore. The best action and highest catch rates occur in September and October when limit catches of 30 fish per angler are often caught within two or three hours of fishing near Put-in-Bay.
Yellow perch tend to move offshore in the summer months, moving closer to shore as waters cool in the fall (10 to 20-foot depths in the western basin, and 20 to 40 foot or more depths in the central basin.)
Yellow perch are well distributed, with traditional hot spots surrounding Put-in-Bay. From shore or from a boat, anglers need not go far to find a school of perch. Once you get into a school, the action can be fast and furious. The fish’s quick, light to medium tugs or “perch jerking'” on the rig makes perch fishing loads of fun. Doubles and triples, more than one perch taking separate baits on the same rig at one time are common.
The traditional fishing method used for catching perch is fun and easy to master. The equipment is simple, no casting is involved, and for kids, catching lots of smaller fish such as perch is much more satisfying than catching fewer, bigger fish such as walleyes. There are a few shops at Put-in-Bay that carry basic perch fishing equipment.
The simplest and most effective technique uses two or three hooks attached to a spreader or “perch rig” and weighted with a sinker of up to two ounces. This is baited with emerald shiners or minnows and dropped to the bottom. (Anglers also use dead, salted minnows, night crawlers, red worms or perch belly meat as a substitute for live minnows.) Anglers are most successful by varying the location of the bait on or near the bottom in a jigging fashion, moving the rig up and down in the water column.
Walk on charter boats (holding 20 to 50 people) are available at a reasonable cost at many major ports along Put-in-Bay’s shoreline with most operating twice a day for morning and afternoon excursions. The cost is around $25 per person, compared to hiring a private charter for up to six people that go for about $400 to $450.
Whether fishing from shore or charter boat, don’t forget to take along a camera to capture the fun and memories of fishing Put-in-Bay on film. A photograph also gives the kids something to “show and tell” their friends about their Put-in-Bay perch jerking adventure.