Midwinter Ringers

Midwinter Ringers

So far 2021 is shaping up to be the year of the perch! So far fishing conditions this winter have been great. There is plenty of ice for folks who aren’t stupid-3-12″. Easy to grind through in less than a minute. Ambient temps have not been extreme, snow cover hasn’t been an issue…all good.

The only issue is a need to frog around a little until you land on the fish. I won’t mention popular community spots, as there are enough folks out there already. THOUSANDS of fish have been taken out. Those which are left behind are generally wise to the ways of bucketeers

The jumbo ringers started coming on in Pool 9 back in 1999. At least for me. The first entry of an honest 12″ was in Dec. of ’99. Since then the perch population has really burgeoned, spreading out to more and more wintering areas every year. It doesn’t take long for the crowd to find a spot.

Some of the best areas are over-winter areas developed in the last several years by rip-rapping and island building only accessible by hovercraft, or boat if you don’t mind a long walk. Action in these areas is pretty much all day. Elsewhere there is a flurry of activity 2-3 times a day followed by essentially zero bites for awhile.

Perch movement tends to be cyclonic, even under the ice. The fish move in a large, lazy circle mostly looking for bugs. Mainly hellgrammites. Where fish have been POUNDED these feeding flurries are mainly mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

There are days when minnows are the only way to go, fished deadstick. By far my most consistent producer has been a little perch pattern Northland buckshot rattle spoon tipped with 2 red spikes.

Jigging cadence is key to consistently hooking up–and the presentation which trips their trigger changes every day. Often the best presentation is what i call ‘plop & hover’.

Plop the lure on the bottom a couple of times to stir up the mud, then bring it up about a foot and try to hold it still. If you hook spikes through the fat end, just under the skin, between the “eyes” it will frequently goad fish which are already familiar with hooks.

My only other tip is don’t leave fish once you find ’em. They will go away, but they will return. you can’t catch ’em if you go looking somewhere else.

My latest book MORE Tails, Trails & Tales with the Old Guide is now live on Amazon and kindle ebooks. Order on line and the book will show up in a few days. It will be awhile before MORE T, T & T shows up at local outlets cuz it takes awhile to print up 100 copies and ship them to me to be signed and delivered. Probably looking at mid-March.

Mother nature hasn’t been making any ice lately…and the Big River keeps on rollin’. Be extra careful out there. Go prepared for self-rescue

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