Spring Perch Locations & Tactics

Spring Perch Locations & Tactics


Yellow perch fishing is excellent in the spring. The action starts immediately after the ice leaves lakes and rivers. Here’s a run-through of where to find springtime perch and how to catch them.


Early season perch locations

Pre-spawn perch seek out the fastest warming water in spring, moving to shallow and mid-depth flats. Large bays, coves and canals also attract perch.


Cover and structures will funnel perch movements and cause schools to loiter in a spot. Look for gravel deposits, hard-to-soft bottom transitions, sand patches, clumps of vegetation and sunken wood. Current seams and warm water from an inflowing tributary also attract perch.


Tip: A cold front can push perch from the shallows, but when warm weather and sunshine return, so will the fish.


Fish near bottom

Perch aren’t nudging their noses into the shallows just to spawn. Food is also a priority. Perch eat nymphs, crayfish, other invertebrates, gobies and minnows, many of which live near bottom. As such, fishing the floor is a smart springtime strategy.


Can’t-miss with jigs

A soft-plastic on a 1/16 to 1/8 ounce jig will catch perch. Good picks are the Hot Skirt Glow Jig, Bucktail Jig, Boot Tail Jig, Crayfish Jig and Probe Jig.


VMC Hot Skirt Glow Jig


VMC Crayfish jig


Perch also love underspin jigs, which provide extra flash and vibration from a rotating blade. The Curl Tail and Wingding spin jigs are good picks.


VMC Curl Tail Spin Jig


Fish a jig using a lift-fall retrieve. Let it regularly hit bottom to create silt clouds, which attract perch. Briefly resting a jig on bottom often prompts bites.


Lures you can jig

Don’t make the mistake of shelving your favourite ice-fishing perch lures once spring arrives. The Flash Champ Spoon, Rattle Spoon, Slab Rap and Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap are great for open-water perch.


VMC Rattle Spoon


Rapala Slab Rap


Vertically jig these lures to catch perch abiding in mid-depth areas. On sand and mud bottoms, casting and using a lift-fall retrieve with a spoon or a lipless crankbait is a reliable way to trigger strikes from the biggest perch in the pack.


Double your chances

A drop-shot rig is another great perch presentation. Begin by tying the mainline to a #4 VMC SpinShot hook tipped with a finesse plastic or, perhaps, a live minnow. Next, attach a 16” to 24” section of 4- to 6-pound mono to the lower eye of the SpinShot. Instead of adding a drop-shot weight, consider using a jig as a sinker to increase your chances of catching more perch.


VMC SpinShot Hook


A drop-shot can be fished with a lift-fall cadence, like a jig. A drag-pause retrieve, which causes the jig to kick-up silt is also effective. Vertically work a drop-shot when perch are under the boat.


Tip: After setting the hook on a perch, wait a couple seconds before reeling it in. This gives another fish a chance to strike the other bait. Do this and you’ll often double-up, catching two perch at a time.


Floats are fantastic

Presenting a jig beneath a float always tricks perch. In addition to the above jigs, the Mustache Jig is particularly potent for coaxing fussy perch.


VMC Mustache Jig


A float and jig set-up can also reduce snags. Use it when perch are holding around timber or in weeds. Pull the float to cover water. Then let it sit to tease a strike.


Magnificient minnowbaits

Bottom-oriented perch rarely resist a 1-1/2” to 2” CountDown swimming within striking distance. Another option is the Ultra Light Crank, which dives to eight feet.


Rapala CountDown


Rapala Ultra Light Crank


The Original Floating Rapala, X-Rap and Ultra Light Minnow dive between one and five feet. Try these baits when perch are feeding shallow.


Rapala Original Floater


Rapala X-Rap


Rapala Ultra Light Minnow


No need for fancy retrieves. Reeling or sweeping the rod sends a minnowbait swimming with its legendary Rapala wobble. Add a pause to give perch an easy target.


Rod combos and line options

The sensitive, responsive 13 Fishing Defy Silver 6’6” and 7’ light spinning rods are perfect for perch tactics. These panfish-specific rods are crafted with Japanese 24-Ton HTC2 graphite and premium Portuguese cork handles. Outfit rods with Creed K 1000 or 2000 spinning reels.


13 Fishing Defy Silver


13 Fishing Creed K Spinning Reel


Four-pound Sufix Advance Monofilament is subtle, sensitive and a flawless performer for perch presentations. Anglers who watch their line for strikes will appreciate the new, high-vis Neon Lime colour.


Sufix Advance Monofilament


Six-pound ProMix Braid outfitted with a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader is equally dependable. This new, premium braid, features ultra-longevity, buoyancy and colourfast technology. The sensitivity, line performance, casting distance and lure control of ProMix is off the charts.


Sufix ProMix Braid


Pinpointing perch whereabout in spring can take some time, but once a school is found the action can be incredible. We encourage you to practice selective harvest when keeping fish for the table; bring home the mid-sized males but release the large females.