Lake Erie anglers who have been concentrating on boating their limits of walleye are turning their attentions to gold mining on the big lake. Yellow perch have seized the interest of many anglers for some very good reasons and there are some mouth-watering recipes that prove it.
Fortunately, you don’t have to travel to Lake Erie to fill your cooler. Thanks to the efforts of the Division of Wildlife and the cooperation of many local governments, upground reservoirs offer excellent yellow perch fishing if you know where to go and how to catch them.
Also lucky for us is the fact that some of the best yellow perch fishing reservoirs are located in northwest Ohio, and the fish can be caught using familiar techniques similar to those proven effective in Lake Erie.
The most successful times are between mid-September through November. Experienced anglers suggest that you try a slow drift or troll from a boat. Once you catch a fish, it’s time to anchor. These fish are a schooling species and where there is one, expect more. Fish straight down just off the bottom using small minnows fished with a spreader or crappie rig.
Another excellent time to catch yellow perch is during those lightly fished winter months from December through February. Whether from a boat or through the ice, remember that the fish’s metabolism has slowed and its need for larger prey has also diminished; however, it’s still hungry. Slowly jigging just above the bottom is your best bet, with minnows and wax worms your best baits.
If you want to be successful at pulling yellow perch up from the depths, a good rod is very important. Their bites can be downright gentle and, when combined with a bouncing boat, can be nearly undetectable. Using a light spinning rod and reel with 6- to 8-pound test during most of the year and ice-fishing rods and gear during winter can really impact your success.
The most important consideration during these fall and winter months is always safety. Life jackets, weather awareness, equipment maintenance and other safety gear can become critical to your survival if the worst should happen — considerations far more important than a cooler of any fish.
The Division of Wildlife offers a few other tips to help you get ready for your next fish fry:
• The key to catching yellow perch is finding the right location. You must find where the fish are holding and feeding at each time of the year to be successful.
• Some anglers use fish finders to locate yellow perch. However, they can be difficult to see on a fish finder when they are lying on or close to the bottom. A popular technique to locating them is drifting or slow trolling until you catch one, then anchoring immediately and fishing straight down.
• Yellow perch also like to associate close to structure. Most upground reservoirs do not have much vegetation but, if you find some rooted vegetation, try fishing along its edge. If you find submerged trees near shore, they may be worth trying as well.
• Remember, if you are not catching these fish, be flexible and try changing locations, using other baits, or choosing a different time of day to fish. You may find that yellow perch have developed a pattern of feeding at a particular time in a particular reservoir.
So, which reservoir gives you the best chance of boating one of the tastiest catches that Ohio lakes have to offer? Surveys by the Division of Wildlife offer these insights.
The top 10 water areas with the highest numbers of yellow perch are:
1. Fremont Reservoir
2. Findlay Reservoir No. 2
3. Van Wert Reservoir No. 1
4. Williams Reservoir
5. Marysville Upground Reservoir
6. Wauseon Reservoir No. 2
7. Ferguson Reservoir
8. Bresler Reservoir
9. Defiance Reservoir
10. Willard Reservoir
Of course, some look for quality over quantity. Here is the top 10 list of the best reservoirs that contain the most yellow perch over 9 inches:
1. Findlay Reservoir No. 2
2. Williams Reservoir
3. Wauseon Reservoir No. 2
4. Ferguson Reservoir
5. Bresler Reservoir
6. Metzger Reservoir
7. Defiance Reservoir
8. Willard Reservoir
9. Findlay Reservoir No. 1
10. Van Wert Reservoir No. 1.
Sounds like the Findlay reservoirs might be a great place to start a bit of gold mining!
“I envy not him that eats better than I do, nor him that is richer, or wears better clothes than I do; I envy nobody but him, and him only, that catches more fish than I do.” — Izaak Walton
Along the way:
Everyone who joins the Arbor Day Foundation with a $10 donation will receive 10 free Colorado blue spruce trees or 10 white flowering dogwood trees through the foundation’s Trees for America campaign.
The trees will be shipped postpaid between Oct. 15 and Dec. 10, depending on the right time for planting in each member’s area. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they’ll be replaced free of charge.
“Colorado blue spruce trees truly provide year-round beauty for any landscape,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the foundation. “Dogwood trees will add color and beauty to your yard throughout the year, with their showy spring flowers, scarlet autumn foliage, and red berries that attract songbirds in the winter.”
You will also receive The Tree Book, which includes information about tree planting and care, and a subscription to Arbor Day, the foundation’s bimonthly publication.
Send your $10 membership to: Ten Free Blue Spruces OR Ten Free Dogwood, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410, by Aug. 31. Join online at www.arborday.org/august.
• Hunting season openers: Canada geese (Sept. 1 to 9), teal (Sept. 1 to 16), dove (Sept. 1 to Nov. 4; Dec. 15 to Jan. 8), rail (Sept. 1 to Nov. 9), common moorhen (Sept. 1 to Nov. 9) and snipe (Sept. 1 to Nov. 25; Dec. 15 to Jan. 4). Visit www.wildohio.gov
• Today: Ohio Outdoor Expo, Ricart Automotive, 4255 S. Hamilton Road, Columbus, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will take place at the 67-acre Ricart Automotive campus in Groveport and will feature outdoor enthusiast products, gear, tools and equipment from area vendors. The divisions of Wildlife, Parks and Watercraft and Natural Areas and Preserves will be there as well as Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Field and Stream, Galaxy Golf, Guitar Center, Smart City Columbus and Vance Outdoors.
• Today and tomorrow: 3-D deer archery match, registration opens at 8 a.m., Field and Stream Bowhunters, 11400 Allen Township 109, Findlay. Contact Harold Spence at 419-423-9861.
• Tomorrow: Air gun field target shoot, gates open at 10 a.m., shoot begins at noon. Event is free and open to the public at Wyandot County Coon Hunters, 12759 Township Highway 133, Nevada.
• Tomorrow: AR rifle shoot, 6 to 7 p.m., HCCL, 13748 Jackson Township 168, Findlay.
• Tomorrow: International Defensive Pistol Association shoot, 9 a.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• Tuesday, Aug. 28: Free mourning dove hunting workshop, 6 to 8 p.m., Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area Headquarters, 19100 County Highway 115, Harpster. Preregistration required by Aug. 27. Contact Andrea Altman at 419-429-8321.
• Aug. 31 to Oct. 5: Fly fishing clinics, Castalia State Fish Hatchery. Submit a postcard listing name, address, customer ID number (fishing license number) and phone to: Division of Wildlife District Two, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay, OH 45840, Attention: Beginner Fly Fishing Clinics. Contact Division of Wildlife at 419-424-5000.
• Sept. 10: Ball metal trap shoots, begins 9 a.m., Mount Blanchard Gun Club, 21655 Delaware Township 186. Contact Denny Snyder at 419-722-7846. Everyone is welcome.
• Hunter and Trapper Education Class information and registration: www.wildohio.gov.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.