Lake Erie Perch
With nearly 165 species in its family tree, freshwater perch just might be the most abundant fish in North America [source: Hocutt]. A popular sport fish, yellow perch, also known as lake perch, is found in abundance in Lake Erie.
What is a Yellow Perch
The yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is a species of perch found in the United States and Canada, where it is often referred to by the shortform perch. Yellow perch look similar to the European perch but are paler and more yellowish, with less red in the fins. They have 6-8 dark vertical bars on their sides. The yellow perch is in the same family as the walleye and sauger, but in a different family from the white perch. Yellow perch size can vary greatly between bodies of water, but adults are usually between 4-10 inches (10-25.5 cm) in length. The perch can live for up to 11 years, and older perch are often much larger than average; the maximum recorded length is 21.0 inches (53.3 cm) and the largest recorded weight is 4.2 lb (1.91 kg). Large yellow perch are often called "jumbo perch".
Fishing For Yellow Perch
The abundance -- not to mention their tasty, firm meat -- might explain why many anglers are hooked on catching the fish that has become a popular main course at Friday night fish fries. Perch feed year-round, so they can be caught year-round, which adds to their popularity.
Lake Erie Perch are not big. The yellow-gold fish with dark-striped sides grow to be 5 to 12 inches (13 to 30.5 centimeters) in length and can weigh up to 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms). When a school of perch goes into a feeding frenzy, the fish can provide anglers with plenty of action, rewarding them with a nice stringer for supper.
How to catch Perch
The trick to catching perch, or any fish for that matter, is finding them and what kind of equipment to use. The good news is you don't need a lot of expensive gear to get started.
A basic rod and reel will do for perching; light tackle is preferred by many fishermen, especially if jig fishing (moving the rod up and down or sideways to move the spreader or lure). Ultra-light open or closed spinning reels are popular for perch fishing. Light braided line (8 to 10-pound test) is recommended.
Lake Erie Perch are not picky eaters, especially when they're in a feeding frenzy. If you like to use live bait to attract fish, your choices are many: small minnows, insect larvae (think maggots), night crawlers, wax worms and grubs. Perch also go for cut bait like crayfish meat and perch eyes. When using minnows, try hooking them through the tail rather than through the mouth; they'll provide more action, and that's what you need to attract the big guys.
Perch can be cooked a number of ways, including pan sauteed, broiled, baked, fried, and grilled. Perch is a delicate fish and care should be taken not to overcook the fish. Cook it just until the fillets flake when touched with a fork.
What Anglers Are Catching
Lake Erie Perch anglers should encounter fish ranging from 7 to 13 inches from the 2007, 2005 and 2003 hatches in this year's fishery. Perch numbers should be similar to levels observed in recent years in the Western Basin, but down just slightly in the Central Basin and Eastern Basin. A moderate hatch from 2008 should boost the fishery in the upcoming years.
Michigan - The daily bag limit is five 50 per person. No minimum size limit is in effect during the entire season.
Ohio - The daily bag limit is 30 fish per person. No minimum size limit is in effect during the entire season.
Pennsylvania - The daily bag limit is 30 fish per person. A minimum size limit of 7-inches is in effect December 1st through March 31st and no minimum size limit April 1 through November 30.
New York - The daily bag limit is 50 fish per person. No minimum size limit is in effect during the entire season.
Ontario – The daily bag limit is 50 fish per person with a sportsman’s license and 25 fish per person with a conservation license. The season is open year round with no minimum size limit.
Anglers are reminded that fishing conditions on Lake Erie can change hourly and adjustments are often necessary to improve success. Anglers should take into account such factors as water temperature, cloud cover, water clarity, boat traffic, wave action, structure and the amount of baitfish in the area. Anglers are also reminded to carefully monitor Lake Erie weather and to seek safe harbor before storms approach.