Tips For Catching Big Spring Perch

RIGHT NOW, JUMBO PERCH OF 2 POUNDS or more are moving shallower to feed and spawn. And jumbo junkies are gearing up for fast action and a killer fish fry. Want in? Here's what to do:

THE PLAN

1 FIND THE HOTSPOTS. Schools of big yellow perch hug the bottom in open water, usually between 10 and 30 feet deep. Use a lake map and electronics to locate gradually sloping bottoms and mid-lake reefs with scattered submerged weeds.

2 PINPOINT THE SCHOOLS. With your boat positioned perpendicular to the wind, cast a baited perch rig off the bow and stern. Make repeated drifts with the wind, slowly dragging the rig along the bottom through likely areas, until you get a hit.

3 ANCHOR. When you catch one, toss out a marker buoy. Then circle upwind within easy casting range and drop anchor. Being upwind of the school lets you easily adjust your position by shortening or lengthening the anchor rope. It also allows for easier bite detection.

4 DRAG. If you're fishing bait, toss a baited tandem rig past the buoy, let it sink to the bottom, and drag the rig slowly over bottom structure and through weeds. Keep a fingertip on your line, plus an eye on your rod tip. If you see or sense tap, tap, set the hook. Nothing but mushy resistance? Lift your rod tip until you feel the fish move. Then stick it.

5 LIFT. If you're fishing lures, cast out and let the jig sink to the bottom first. Then jig, but don't pop it up and down like a yo-yo. Instead, slowly lift it off the bottom and drop it back down. Again, watch and feel closely for a tap-like bite or a mushy resistance.

THE OUTFIT
Most fishermen after big perch choose a 5- to 6½-foot ultralight spinning outfit. For casting jigs, go with a medium-action graphite rod. If you'll be tossing perch rigs, a slow graphite or even fiberglass stick is better. Either way, a sensitive or soft rod tip is a must for detecting subtle bites.

You want light, low-stretch line. A quality 4-pound mono is standard, but many big-perch fanatics use a superbraid matched with a fluorocarbon leader.

LIVE BAIT
There are as many variations on perch rigs as there are names for them. Here's a very basic but effective version: Tie a ½-ounce bell sinker on the end of the line. Attach one hook about 12 to 18 inches above the sinker, and then another about 12 to 18 inches above the first. Rig both with a 2- to 3-inch-long minnow.

JIGS
The hot lures these days are 1/64-to 1/8-ounce leadhead jigs rigged with miniature soft-plastic tubes, grubs, and minnows, but marabou and hair jigs still work.