New State-Record Perch Comes Through the Ice in Iowa

On Sunday, March 7, 2010, Bob Ruff of Garnavillo, Iowa, landed a perch while ice fishing a bayou of the Mississippi River's Pool 11 that turned out to be a new state record. The jumbo yellow-belly weighed 2 pounds, 6 ounces. This fish breaks the old record, shared by three other anglers, by 3 ounces.
The perch was caught at 2 p.m. while Ruff was fishing with his 6-year-old daughter, Mackenzy, pictured here with her arm around dad. The water in the bayou was two feet deep, including one foot of solid ice. Mackenzy landed a 2-pound, 1-ounce perch by herself just the day before in the same area. Ruff's been catching numerous perch close to the size of his record-setter. He says there's no doubt he'll catch a bigger one.
The fish, seen here in the Iowa DNR's measuring cradle, measured 15 inches. It was a female full of eggs that had a 12-inch girth.
The perch was caught on a K & E Moon Glitter jig like the one shown here, however, Ruff painted it blood-red with fingernail polish. The jig was tipped with a fathead minnow. Ruff was using a vintage wooden-handled solid-fiberglass ice-fishing rod and 2-pound-test Trilene XL line. The hit was telegraphed through a spring bobber handmade by Ruff.
The fish was weighed on a certified scale, seen here behind Ruff, and verified as Iowa's largest perch to date by Iowa DNR fisheries biologist Scott Gritters at the Guttenberg Fish Management Station.
Ruff, 51, is a self-employed trapper, ginseng harvester, mushroom picker, and giant pumpkin farmer. He's been fishing the same area where he caught the perch for nearly 30 years.
"We're seeing a lot of very large perch coming from the Mississippi lately," says Gritters. "The water's cleared up considerably the past few years and the weeds are growing better than ever - perfect perch habitat. The perch are growing fast but not living long. This fish was probably only 6 years old." Gritters also says the northern pike population is healthy, which is helping to keep the perch population in check.