August is here. The dog days of summer. For many outdoorsmen, the fishing tackle isn’t getting used as much as the bite can be a challenge this time of year.
Trying to catch bass and panfish isn’t as easy as it was just a few months ago as they head to deeper waters to find more oxygen and food in the cooler deeper water. So for many, thoughts turn to autumn days with the approach of hunting seasons. Dreams of cooler days spent in the deer stand or duck blind take over our thoughts as we wait for August to pass.
However, there are still a lot of fish that can be caught this time of year. Especially if you are willing to travel a bit to the north and head out on our state’s wonderful treasure, Lake Erie. The perch bite is just now starting to heat up. And after a couple of tough years of perch fishing, the size and number of catches of this delicious table fare is showing signs of great things to come.
I recently put away the walleye and bass gear and spent a few days chasing perch. I found a nice spot just south of South Bass Island which made for a rather short boat trip which is great for the wallet with these current gas prices. I began by using shiners for bait with a quarter ounce weight on a crappie rig. I was jigging it vertically in 30 feet of water and for the first thirty minutes I didn’t catch a thing even though my sonar was showing there were fish below me. I took a chance that my bait might be too big so I decided to cut up my minnows into thirds and that was the trick.
I was catching some keepers right on the bottom in the mud, but I was catching even bigger perch a few feet above them by making huge sweeps with my seven foot long spinning rod. As I would lift the rod as high as I could, the nine and ten inch perch would hit it as soon as it started to drop as they were suspended just above the school of smaller perch. The action was fast and furious and in a matter of less than two hours I had my limit of thirty.
You can catch perch on any type of spinning rod, but spending money on a quality graphite rod can be very beneficial especially when the bite is light. For line, go as light as you can get away with and I like to use braided fishing line as my main line with a four or five foot long flurocarbon leader. This combination will provide you the sensitivity needed to feel the lightest of bites on the days when the perch can be finicky as well as the strength to deal with the zebra mussels.
If you don’t have a boat that can access the great lake, it’s not too late to gather some friends together to split the cost and book a charter. If you are solo, you can jump on one of the many daily walk on head boats that come out of Port Clinton. Cleaning perch can be a tedious task and it is well worth paying one of the many fishing cleaning stations that are around Port Clinton and Marblehead. I clean all my own walleye but when it comes to perch, it is worth every penny to pay the professionals especially if you have several limits to do.
Although I love eating walleye both blackened and fried, it’s hard to beat the sweet taste of fried perch. If you haven’t given this little guy a try, your taste buds will thank me later.
If you aren’t a fisherman but want to try some fresh Lake Erie perch, a perfect day trip is to hop in the car and drive up to Port Clinton and enjoy a perch sandwich or platter at Jolly Roger’s Restaurant. They have the best. And then for dessert, hop back into the car and drive over to Marblehead and stop at Brown’s Dairy Dock in town and get a fresh peach or strawberry sundae. Trust me, it will be the best day trip you have enjoyed in a while.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.