Best Perch Locations

Best Perch Locations

Here's a look at some of the best perch locations in the United States and Canada. Whether your looking for open water locations or a place to ice fish, perch fishing today has never been better in many bodies of water, including lots of big fish opportunities, too.

1 Shoal Lake > Manitoba

This untapped gem lies about 40 miles northwest of Winnipeg in the Interlake Region. Shoal Lake has formed as rising water has joined East, West, and North Shoal lakes, similar to the Devils Lake situation. It's created a 'œnew-lake' effect that's spurred production of shrimp and other invertebrates that boost perch growth. Contact: Guide Dan Kiazyk, 866/228-3933, cateyeoutfitter.com.

2 Devils Lake > North Dakota

As this vast lake in east-central North Dakota continues to expand, so does its perch population. Guide Jason Mitchell reports the highest numbers he's seen in 20 years along with jumbos from the 2006 and 2007 year-classes. While ice fishing is most popular, it's a fine spring and summer option, too. Contact: Guide Jason Mitchell, 701/662-6560, fishdevilslake.net; Perch Patrol, 701/351-3474, perchpatrol.com.

3 Mille Lacs > Minnesota

Big perch spread across this 112,000-acre lake that's endowed with fish-holding habitat from one end to the other. Late winter is prime time as perch fatten up by feeding on soft-bottom flats loaded with larval insects in 20 to 30 feet of water. Swiss-cheese these areas to find concentrations of big fish. You can do well with little company during the open-water season, too. After they spawn, fish shift from the edges of vegetation to basin flats. Contact: Guide Tony Roach, 763/226-6656, ­­roachsguideservice.com.

4 Lake Waubay > South Dakota

Excellent spawns have fueled Lake Waubay's perch population, in northeastern South Dakota. Average size can run 12 inches, offering the best bite in years. In addition to 1,600-acre Waubay, check Pias and Middle Lynn lakes. Contact: Guide Cory Ewing, 605/929-3894, waubaylakeguideservice.com.

5 Mississippi River > Wisconsin

Perch grow big in the productive backwaters of the Mississippi River. Habitat improvement by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has increased aquatic plant coverage and perch have responded. Check areas on the Wisconsin side of Pool 9, near Genoa and DeSoto. Ice fishing is effective, and a great spring bite begins at ice-out. Contact: Guide John Bomkamp, 608/574-1580, johnbomkampfishing.com.

6 Lake Gogebic > Michigan

Located in million-acre Ottawa National Forest, the largest lake in Michigan's Upper Peninsula is a multispecies gem that yields big perch, along with walleyes, sunfish, and smallies. Perch are underfished and can top two pounds. Contact: Guide Barry 'œBear' Drews, 906/842-3361, ninepinesresort.com; Lake Gogebic State Park, 906/842-3341, michigandnr.com/parksandtrails.

7 Lake St. Clair > Michigan-Ontario

Expansive St. Clair offers vast numbers of 'œeaters,' but enough jumbos to keep you on your toes and hunting across its broad, shallow flats. Fishing peaks in late summer and fall, lasting into winter, with 50-fish limits not uncommon. Check weed-sand transitions and flats from 12 to 18 feet deep. Contact: Capt. Steve Jones, 586/463-3474, fishpredator.com.

8 Lake Erie > Ohio to New York

With its outstanding bass and walleyes, Lake Erie is overlooked for panfish. But its expansive moderate-depth flats make ideal habitat for ringers that often run over a pound. Perch popularity peaks from Cleveland to Erie, Pennsylvania, but reports indicate a booming population east to Buffalo. In spring and fall, protected bays produce, but the bite for big fish transitions to deeper flats (25- to 40-foot range) in late spring. Contact: B.A.C. Bait and Tackle, 814/838-2850 (Pennsylvania); Capt. Frank Campbell, 716/284-8546, niagaracharter.com (New York); Erie Outfitters, 440/949-8934, erieoutfitters.com; North Coast Charter Boat Association, northcoastcharter.com (Ohio).

9 Lake Simcoe > Ontario

While heavy fishing pressure has admittedly taken a toll on Lake Simcoe's production of jumbos, this big lake in south-central Ontario continues to be one of the best on the continent. Pressure peaks from January through March so good summer and fall options exist. Insiders note a growing conservation ethic, as anglers release ponderous female perch, keeping smaller but still worthy males, promising a bright future. Contact: Guide Greb Clatt, 416/580-2541, profishntanglingservices.com.

10 Upper Chesapeake Bay > Maryland

Thanks to habitat management by the Maryland DNR, the lower Susquehanna and North East rivers are emerging as prime perch fisheries. From mid-February to mid-March, staging fish move shoreward. Locals employ drop-shot rigs with bull minnows (killifish) or grass shrimp. Contact: Herb's Tackle Shop, ­410/287-5490.

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