There’s something about perch fishing that’s definitely therapeutic for me. The sounds of trains going by in the distance, of small waves kissing the hull, of other boats moving a few hundred feet at a time to find the schools mixed in with the smell of the lake’s fresh air, the feeling of the sun warming your skin blend together into an extremely relaxing and enjoyable experience. The best part about it is watching a couple shiners drop down into the darkness below and waiting for the next bite which usually takes a few seconds.
The MNR implemented a moratorium on spring fishing in St-Francis about 10 years ago over fears that the larger fish were being overharvested. At the time, local fishermen complained about the size of perch diminishing yearly and the MNR conducted a study which resulted in the implementation of this ban and of reduced catch limits. In the ’70s and ’80s people caught fish by the hundred. Now a sportfishing license will let you boat 50 per angler and a conservation fishing license will allow for a 25 fish limit. These limits are easily obtainable if you know where to go and keep rigs extremely finessed. You need to know how to tie loops, drop loops and snell knots and you have to use extremely light line. I have a blast with my ultralight and 2 pound test mono. The smaller size line allows me to go down in sinker weight and yet still maintaining a vertical position below the boat.
I’ve started to notice a small increase in size of fish in the last 2 years. I’m sure local guys who fish exclusively for perch would have a better idea of the results of the moratorium but I’m definitely catching larger perch now than say 5 years ago. Numbers have always been there. My friend and I caught our limit about 3 times that day but we released 2 of every 3 fish caught because they could have been used as bait. Regardless, we had a great time and after spending about 2 hours cleaning fish (I use a longer method that saves all belly meat but requires a little more time), we were ready for a swim, a cold one and a feast fit for kings.
When the lake is calm in June, and you feel like getting rid of all your old winter-blues, nothing beats a day of perchin’.
Much to my surprise, walleyes were still to be found in feeder rivers in mid-June. The water temp on Friday was 70 and it went up to 74 by Sunday night. The weekend of the 17th and 18th of June was the warmest of 2006 so far and cottagers remembered they had boats and sea-doos. I hate this part of the year. I wish it could be April all year on the lake.
Here’s where things get interesting. Pat and I headed out to the main lake only to find that wind was severely challenging boat control once again. We really didn’t feel like doing the live bait rig thing in channel edges pounded by a 25 km/h wind so we reluctantly decided to head out to a small river to try and bring up a few smallies. We did what we do in May, that is, troll floating rapalas on fireline. I truly believe the fireline and quality rods are crucial for this type of fishing. These lures are fine tuned and even the smallest amount of weed will stop them from working. Without the feel you get from Fireline and a good rod there’s no way you could detect these smaller pieces of grass.
We got passed a marina. The OPP were having a community picnic of some kind. Take a kid fishing day or something. There were seadoos, boats, water-skiers and other spoilers all over the place. We hesitated…but decided that since we were here we may as well start trolling and try to keep our lures away from other boats. We trolled for no longer than about 2 minutes, and while watching a group of about 10 sea-doos go right by us I hear Pat say the magic words : “fish on!”.
He said the fish had some weight and wanted to stay down. He said he felt a headshake so we both looked at each other and thought ; Could it be? Sure enough, I saw the white tip under the fin as the fish saw the boat and desperately tried to head back to the 20 foot hole it came out of. A minute later, we had this 4 pound 9 ounce walleye in the boat, much to the delight of our sea-doo onlookers, and of Mr. Dubeau and his guide of course.
We kept the pattern going all weekend. Turns out we caught about 5 walleyes, a few smallmouth, a perch and a bonus 7.5 pound pike in the warmer main-lake tributary. I learned something this weekend. I should definitely go bass fishing in feeder rivers more often, too windy on the big lake or not.
So I decided to do the cliche father and son thing on the weekend. Go fishing. Turns out it was a great idea. I don’t know how many more times I’ll get to fish we the old man so I think it makes it that much more special. We had a good time. Trolled crankbaits and walleyes were on them. We also managed a few quality smallmouths and a bonus 7.5 pound pike. All this under clear sunny skies, 30+C temps and Seadoos all over the place. Go figure.