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’.