Perch fishing can be extremely fun and when you find a pack of them, you are usually in for a very action-filled session. However, this predator is not the easiest of fish to find or catch and on some days, it just seems impossible to locate them or get them to bite.
On those days, it can be a good idea to try out a few tricks and hacks that can save you from blanking. Of course, there isn’t a guarantee for success, but many times, the tips contained in this article have landed me perch when the going was tough and I was close to giving up and heading home empty-handed.
So if you want to read up on some really helpful and effective perch fishing tips, all you have to do is keep reading.
Target First and Last Light
While perch feed during the entire day, they are most active in the morning and evening, during the hours of first and last light.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had perch fishing trips that were absolutely killing it during the first hours in the morning and then completely died out as the morning progressed toward noon. It’s like someone puts a lock on the perch, slowing them down and minimizing their appetite.
Then toward evening, when the sun is slowly disappearing, they can suddenly become extremely active and hungry again. That’s the daytimes you should focus on when it comes to perch!
Avoid Rapid Weather Changes
This is definitely my best tip for perch; avoid rapid weather changes and very cold weather! Perch aren’t all that fond of such weather conditions and fishing for perch in the following conditions can often be fairly challenging:
- Unstable and rapidly changing barometric pressure
- Clear skies and bright sunlight
- Northern or eastern winds
- Very cold nights
Perch like mild and stable temperatures and weather conditions. So make sure you head out during a stable and ongoing low or high-pressure system when targeting perch. You can also read this article if you want to learn more about the best weather for perch fishing.
Fish Under Overhanging Trees
Perch are small predators, which means that they are also prey fish for bigger predators in their habitat. That’s why they like to keep a stealthy profile and prefer features they can hide in, under, or behind.
One classic such feature is an overhanging tree or bush. Not only does it provide superb stealth, but it also offers plenty of food for the perch, in the form of smaller prey fish and insects, as well as some much-needed shade and hence cooler water during high summer.
That’s why I always start my trips by casting under or close to overhanging trees and bushes. They are perch magnets and you can usually find a whole bunch of them under such features.
Target Weeds and Reeds
Weeds and reeds are two other perchy features that you should never disregard. Much like trees, they also offer the perch great protection and a place to hide. And it goes without saying that both weeds and reeds are loaded with food.
Use a shallow-diving crankbait that you can fish just over a patch of weed and you’ll be sure to get some perch hits.
For reeds, I like to fish either a drop shot rig or a float rig with live bait. Both setups can be placed just off the reed belt and usually manage to lure the perch out of their hiding place.
Look for Prey Fish on the Surface
If you don’t manage to locate any perch, try scanning the water surface for splashing prey fish. If you see smaller clouds of exploding smaller fish, chances are very good that they are getting rounded up by hunting perch.
Perch hunt in packs and one of their most effective hunting tactics involves attacking their prey from below, pushing them toward the surface, where their escape path is suddenly cut off.
If you see such exploding bait clouds on the water surface, cast your lure or bait close to that area. The bites will most certainly start shortly thereafter.
Use Spinners and Crankbaits in Warm Water
In the summer, when the water is warm and the fish are active, using faster lures is definitely the way to go. Perch like to hunt fast now and a fast-retrieved lure, such as an inline spinner or crankbait, will certainly get their attention in no time.
Nothing beats a summer perch’s violent take on a fast-retrieved crankbait. They might not be the biggest of fish, but they sure have strength in them! You can check out my favourite crankbait for perch on Amazon here.
Use Slow-Retrievable Softbaits in Cold Water
During the colder months of the year, slow retrievable baits fished on or just off the bottom will be your ticket to perch heaven.
Don’t let the cold water temperatures prevent you from going fishing! Things aren’t as easy now as they are in summer, but with the right baits and fishing technique, you can have really awesome perch sessions nonetheless.
Go for softbaits, such as shads, creature baits, or good old curly tails; anything that you can fish slowly over the bottom. Use light jig heads, as they’ll make your softbaits sink slower toward the bottom. Check out some really awesome softbaits for perch on Amazon here.
Even better, fish the following rigs that are perfect for cold water perch:
- Texas rig
- Carolina rig
- Drop shot rig
They will enable you to fish your softbaits extremely slowly or even statically, which will convince even the most sluggish of perch.
Fish with Live Baits
When lures fail, fishing with live bait for perch can really turn things around for you! No matter if you are fishing on the bottom or on the float, tricky perch simply cannot resist a delicious small live bait.
I prefer the following bait types:
Make sure your baits aren’t too big, as the perch might not get them into their mouths. Bait sizes of 2 to 5 inches are perfect for perch!
Fish with Maggots
If you don’t have any live baits, using white and red maggots is another really effective way of catching difficult perch. While being a really tiny bait, maggots are a real secret weapon that can actually land you a lot of big perch.
Present them on a light float rig or, and this is my personal favourite method, fish them on a classic maggot feeder rig right on the bottom. If you want to read up on the topic of ledgering for perch, make sure to also read this article.
Pro Tip: Avoid fishing with maggots in venues that hold a lot of small fish, as they’ll usually find the maggots first and ruin your swim.
Bonus Tip: Try Night Fishing for Perch
Fishing for perch in the dark is a really underrated method that not many anglers are practicing. I discovered this really fun way of fishing for perch a few years ago and let me tell you, it’s really effective at times!
Especially the bigger fish seem to hunt more actively and confidently in the dark, which is why you should definitely try it out for yourself!
No matter if you decide to fish with lures or baits, always use bright colours when fishing for perch at night. White maggots or peeled shrimps/prawns are really great baits for night perch. And so are white, green, yellow or chartreuse softbaits! Find out more about nighttime perch fishing by also reading this article.