Perch Pandemonium!

Nate Grant, Nick Trauba, Dave Trauba and Bret Amundson
Nate Grant, Nick Trauba, Dave Trauba and Bret Amundson

Ever have one of those days where you could throw a rock tied to spaghetti and it would catch fish?   We had one yesterday.

We heard of a strong perch bite on a western Minnesota lake recently and decided to load up the portables and head off in search of tasty jumbos.

The local report at the bait shop didn’t offer much help other than picking out a small red spoon.  We had a caravan of 7 people and 4 portable fish houses, after a quick breakfast that included a free hash brown, we hit the lake.

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The sun wasn’t up yet and we were primed for the morning bite.  It never came.  After 2 hours, we had around 5 perch, 2 small walleye and 2 nice walleye that got off at the hole.

It was time to move.

We weren’t sure where we were going, but we had reports of better luck down south.  In fact the message we received was, “I caught 11 perch in the last 10 minutes.”

Okay, we’re going there.

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Our houses were set up in a triangular fashion.  I had used my sometimes-accurate Navionics app to drill holes right on a contour.  Three holes would be drilled, one for a dead stick, one for jigging and one for my camera.   The water clarity of this lake should offer the chance to see fish on camera visibly enough that I wouldn’t need a flasher.  In fact the water turned out to be clear enough to sight-fish right down the hole if you wanted.  The 10 foot bottom looked as though I could reach down and touch it.

Before I had cleared the slush out of two of the holes, I rigged up a jig and a full fathead minnow, hooked through the back.  I set it up to hang just off the bottom and set the rod down.  In a simultaneous moment, the bobber went down as the rod went down.  I quickly grabbed the rod and set the hook and immediately had a keeper perch on the ice.

That was fun.

I hooked another minnow and dropped it down and started to think about my jigging rod.  Again, the bobber was under water instantaneously.   Perch #2 had been caught.  If it was going to keep up like this, I’d have my 15 perch before my flasher was even turned on.   Eventually the school moved on and I was able to finish setting up.  4 keepers were already in the sled.

A camera works great if you have excellent water clarity.
A camera works great if you have excellent water clarity.

I was able to drop the camera down and get some great footage of perch swarming my spoons.  You’d have to wait, sometimes over a half hour for another school to swim through, but when they did, it was every man for himself.

Here’s the video footage:  (I had to compress it to upload it, so the youtube quality isn’t as good as the actual footage)

Around 2:30, I was starting to doze off a little bit as I hadn’t seen fish for quite a while.  I was halfway to my limit when I caught some movement on the camera.  Slowly a perch was swimming in and it quickly inhaled my offering without a second thought.  As I brought him on the ice, my bobber dropped.  For the next 15 minutes it was a chaotic mess of keeping up with both rods as the ravenous perch would fight over the delicious (?) fatheads and crappie minnows I was using.  I’d no sooner have one perch in my hand dehooking it while my other rod would be sliding across the ice towards the watery abyss, attached to a fat yellow perch.

Occasionally the roar of a nearby auger would spook the perch off to hide under someone else’s shelter and the waiting game would begin.  We weren’t off on some hidden lake with no one around, it was literally a zoo as you tried to relax amidst the trucks, augers, generators and drinkers.  A circus-like atmosphere reminded you that this particular perch bite was not a real big secret.  Yet, they still bit and bit and bit.

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We threw back the small ones and still came home with a huge pile of great sized fish.   Despite the long stay at the cleaning table, the upcoming fish fry will be almost as much fun as the frenzied trip on the ice.


  1. I need to find a lake like this. I’ve had some pretty poor bites the last two weeks. Those are some real nice perch, though. Congrats!

      • That’s an awesome video. I love fish cameras. That is, as long as the fish aren’t swimming right by your baits :P. I wish I could get mine to record, even though its B&W.

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