10 Perch Fishing Tips for Beginners: How to Catch Perch

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Among freshwater gamefish, catching perch is the most fun and challenging. You have to sneak up on them at certain times of the day, attract them with lures, and resort to night fishing to catch their pack leader!  

It’s all worth the wait when you have the biggest perch of the season sitting in your cooler. For a beginner, the techniques of perch fishing can feel too elaborate. If you want to try angling, after all, starting with yellow perch will give you one heck of a time! 

We’re here with 10 perch fishing tips. You only need to know a few of these to fish for perch in Lake Winnebago. Rest assured, the perch in your local pond doesn’t stand a chance! 

When Is the Best Time to Catch Perch?  

The best time to catch perch is from late spring to early summer. Fishing for perch an hour before and after sunset is preferable during mid to late summer. 

However, in autumn, the suitable times to fish for perch are morning and late afternoon. Throughout winter, most anglers fish for perch under the subtle light of late afternoon and evening. 

Baits and Lures You Should Use for Perch  

Once you find a suitable spot, it’s time to give your perch the most attractive lure of its lifetime. Because if it had seen a better lure, it probably wouldn’t live to tell the tale. 

Worms, minnows, larvae, crayfish, and countless other living baits can be used for attracting a raccoon perch. 

A rule of thumb is to use lures smaller than what you’ll normally use for walleye or bass. 

In our opinion, perch prefers the following baits to man-made lures. So, fishing with live baits can actually turn your perch hunting around! 

  • Small minnow 
  • Golden Shiner 
  • Rudd 
  • Roach 
  • Bleak 

Popular Perch Fishing Tackles Used by Expert Anglers 

Fishing for any freshwater gamefish takes effort, knowledge, and time. But yellow perch raises the bar with their unpredictable feeding and “ghosting” behaviors.  

We’re here to take control and equip you with the best fishing tackle and equipment for perch. 

Right here is your Ultimate Perch Fishing Checklist:

Tackle CategoryLength/Size/Specifications 
Fishing Line 6lbs. monofilament line 
Fishing Hook For small leeches and minnows: hook size #8 and #6 
For larger minnows for ringed perch: hook size #6 and #4 
Perch Jigs Curly tail jigs, soft plastic jigs, 1″-2″ in length 
Fishing Rod A dropshot rod 6ft. to 7ft. in length 
Jig Heads 1/16-ounce jig heads (standard), 1/18-ounce jig heads (heavier), 1/32-ounce jig heads (lighter) 
Artificial Lures Inline spinners, crankbaits, and jigs, in yellow/white color combinations 
Perch Fishing Rigs Texas rig, drop shot rig, or spreader rigs with bullet weights 

10 Simple Perch Fishing Techniques for Success 

We’ve already discussed the best baits, jigs, and tackles for catching yellow perch. All there’s left to do is find those freshwater gamefish and claim your victory!  

You can find bigger yellow perch in the upper Midwest, as well as in the lakes and streams surrounding the Pacific Northwest. 

But with the following tips, you can fish for perch all year round! Seasoned perch anglers use the same tactics for catching big yellow perch off the bottom. 

Perch Fishing Tips

1. Begin Fishing in the Early Morning and Evening  

Yellow perch feed in the daytime. They are more active in the morning during the first light and in the evening during the last light. It’s difficult to find feeding perch throughout the day. 

If you want to reel in a big perch, make your move during the sun-up and cast your bait. 

Towards the evening, this schooling fish once again becomes active and looks for food. Many fishermen skip night fishing and miss out on bigger fish. 

Don’t make the same mistake! 

Take your boat and head out for deeper water. From our own experience, we know for a fact that big perches hunt during the night! 

2. Deep Waters and Structures Are Great Fishing Locations  

Perch fall prey to bigger fish such as pike, bass, crappie, trout, muskie, and walleye. So, yellow perch tend to hide under the shadow of overhanging trees or downed trees altogether.  

If you find it tough to catch perch without getting your line caught in the brush piles, present your bait with a slip float. 

You can do without slip floats in water deeper than 20 feet. To fish for larger perch in those depths, use drop shot baits with vertical jigging. While casting in shallow lakes, you may find schools of yellow perch along the drop-offs. Slopes that run farther down the water column are good places to look for perch. 

3. Yellow Perch Like to Feed off the Ground

Perch hunt in groups, and one of their common feeding technique involves ambushing small fish from below. They push their prey to the surface, skillfully blocking their escape path. If you see water bubbles in an area, don’t hesitate to fish for yellow perch in that location! 

Adjust your float so that the live bait is hanging from 6 to 8 inches from the bottom. The easiest way to catch a jumbo perch in the fall is to nail your presentation. Use colorful, realistic baits and keep your fishing boat ready. Still-fishing is often ineffective when perch are schooling in deep water. 

4. Make Reeds and Weed Beds Your Target  

Want to catch yellow perch this summer? Then looking under the reeds is your best bet! When fishing around the reeds, you want to use a float rig with natural bait.  

Alternatively, you may use a drop shot rig with live bait because of its fast-sinking quality in warm water. 

Weeds and reeds give lake perch a safe place to hide and escape vicious walleyes. It’s common to find your fishing line in a knot after casting it directly into a weed bed. 

Always use a shallow-diving bait that you can easily fish over a weed bed.  

It’s a common practice among perch anglers to remove one eye of a perch they caught and attach it to small hooks. A larger yellow perch seems to enjoy these tidbits more than smaller fish. 

5. Use Crankbaits, Swim Baits, and Spinner in Summer  

Anglers often find large fish in shallow water. But hooking them with a plain hook is tough. In that case, you have to upgrade your tackle box with a swimbait, a small jig head, and a spinner. 

Summertime is when perch are the most active. They chase after fast retrievable baits such as crankbaits or inline spinners. In mid-summer, when lake water temperature peaks, perch will stop feeding.  Many anglers wait until the water cools down in great lakes. 

As soon as the temperature settles between 65°F to 70°F, perch will take a varied diet that includes crawfish, shrimp, tiny invertebrates, insects, and other perch. Fall is a good time to give perch fish bits and minnows rather than an artificial lure. 

6. Go Ice Fishing for Perch with a Fish Finder  

To the untrained eye, it’s difficult to locate schools of perch under a frozen lake. It doesn’t make ice fishing for perch any less popular. Cool water and the frozen surface add an element of surprise to yellow perch fishing. 

You can lure a lethargic perch with small spoons and red worms. But first, drill a 10-inch hole with an auger. It’s wide enough for perch and narrow enough for people. 

Follow up with an ice skimmer to get rid of the remaining ice in the hole. Jigging with maggots, minnows, and a simple spring bobber is how the perch fishermen do their job! 

7. Use Slow Retrievable Baits in Cold Water  

According to most anglers, you should always go for curly tails and soft baits. If you fish on the bottom, using soft crankbaits with weights will attract the bottom-feeding perch. Anything you can fish over the bottom can be used as baits in perch fishing. 

To effortlessly reel in a yellow perch, use jig heads that can sink baits toward the bottom. 

During colder months, perch are lethargic and will scour the riverbed for dead bait. Using retrievable baits that slowly sink to the bottom can fool a big perch. As they throw light bites at your lure, more will follow. 

8. When in Doubt, Make a Texas Rig for Yellow Perch!  

With a drop shot rig, you can catch perch from deep water. It sinks fast and is easier to use than a Carolina rig. Our suggestion is- try different rigs until you find one that you’re comfortable using. 

The lead weight of Texas rigs gets your lure to the bottom of the lake, giving it a life-like appearance of live baits. 

For cold water yellow perch, we’ve found the following setups to be the most successful!  

  • Carolina rig  
  • Drop-shot rig  
  • Texas rig 

So, what’s the specialty of these rigs? For one, they help you fish baits fairly slowly. They have good casting accuracy and works no matter the size of your soft plastic lures. 

Speaking of lures, jigging spoons top our list of favorite lures for perch. A teardrop spoon paired with a natural bait attracts dimple-mouthed perch like nothing else! 

9. Fish with Small Live Baits or Worms 

If there’s anything we know about yellow perch fishing, it’s that they like garden worms and minnows. An earthworm is a no-brainer live bait for catching a big perch. We don’t recommend baiting your hook with whole nightcrawlers. They tend to be too big for perch mouth. 

Now, where do you stand on maggots and wax worms as live bait? We’re not fans of larvae either, but yellow perch seems to go to town on it. So, if you have a point to prove to an avid angler, don’t mind sticking your hand in this crawling nightmare!  

10. If You Catch One Perch, You’ll Find More in the Same Location  

Perch is a popular gamefish because one- they make a great table fare, and two- they swim together in large numbers. They overpopulate small lakes in the upper Midwest, spawning their hatch from mid-April all the way to early May!   

Since perch are schooling fish, you can find more panfish in a small radius.  

Re-bait your hook and cast your line around the area you caught your first perch. If you don’t have a fish finder, set your trap under shadowy, overhanging trees, wooden debris, and underwater structures! 

Rounding Up  

Perch are clever gamefish that you can find in small lakes, ponds, rivers, and reservoirs. Although they have a widespread habitat in the Northwest, catching perch can make you jump through hoops! 

They’re hard to catch and are more inclined to play hide and seek with ice fishermen. Now that you know our perch fishing tips, you can catch and find perch anywhere in the world. All the best!  


Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.