In a few areas of the Midwest, some fishing seasons are closing. To some anglers, that means the ice-fishing season is over.
That's too bad: There's still lots of ice-fishing available, the action can be very good, and the weather is often very pleasant for being on the ice. If you would like to extend your ice-fishing season, you should think about going after perch.
Perch tactics are often almost the same as you would use for walleyes. Perch are bottom-huggers and this time of the year they will be in the deeper areas of the body of water being fished.
Many successful perch-chasers drill a bunch of holes over a perch holding area and just start moving from hole to hole. They'll watch their sonar to see if perch are present. If life is seen near the bottom, hang around awhile and see if you can get bit. If you don't see anything in a few minutes, move to another hole.
Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons are the most effective baits in many areas. The eighth ounce size is good to start with. If you're seeing fish but they're not eating, go to the sixteenth ounce size. Sometimes finicky fish will go for the smaller spoon.
If the fish are biting good, go to the quarter ounce size spoon. The bigger spoon will sometimes convince the bigger fish to hit, and the heavier spoons can be fished faster also.
Last year I started tipping my spoons and other baits with Gulp! Mini Earthworms in the red wiggler color. These Mini Earthworms look a lot like bloodworms, and bloodworms are a delicacy to perch in many lakes. I've seen quite a few instances when this set-up out-produced everything else.
If the perch are really finicky and won't hit the spoon, try a really small bait and fish it almost motionless. The new Bro's Bloodworm and Slug-Bug from Northland Fishing Tackle are small, finesse presentations that will convince unwilling biters to eat. Fish them on four pound test Vanish fluorocarbon lines for a very stealthy presentation.
Daytime temperatures can get pretty warm in the late ice season. That makes for very comfortable fishing, but can also create some slushy conditions. I like to wear my Cabela's GuideWear this time of year, especially the bibs. They have reinforced knees which will keep you drier and warmer if you spend much time kneeling by a hole. GuideWear is four-season clothing for many anglers.
February and March can provide outstanding ice fishing. Walleyes will bite good in areas where they're still fair game, and crappies are willing biters also. But for many ice-anglers, perch are the preferred quarry this time of year.
They're plentiful in many areas of the Midwest, they're usually willing biters, and they're great on the table. Find out for yourself in the next few weeks how perch can stretch your ice fishing season.
For more fish-catching information, visit fishingthemidwest.com.