11 Tips on how to catch more perch ice fishing


January 25, 2024


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how to catch more perch ice fishing

Yellow perch are a popular target species for many ice anglers. Catch one perch and you’re likely to hook more since they’re a schooling fish and naturally curious. If you’re looking to learn how to catch yellow perch ice fishing, here are 11 can’t-miss perch fishing tips.

In this article, you will learn more about:

  1. Fish flats
  2. What makes some flats better than others
  3. Follow perch throughout the ice season
  4. Rattling baits are must-haves
  5. High flash presentations essential in clear water
  6. Learn how to catch yellow perch with finesse presentations
  7. Live-Bait and scented soft baits help get more bites
  8. Learn how to catch perch ice fishing using electronics
  9. Pay attention to drop speed when jigging
  10. Pause or keep jigging?
  11. Using the right equipment to know How to catch perch ice fishing

Fish flats

There are no guarantees in angling, but you could do a lot worse than ice fishing flats for yellow perch. One reason perch relate to flats is because it’s difficult for them to be ambushed on these wide open spaces in the day by walleye, pike, lake trout and other predators.

What makes some flats better than others

Food also motivates perch to occupy flats. Soft-bottom flats can hold bloodworms and other inver-tebrates perch eat in winter. Weed flats a reliable place for perch to fill their bellies with minnows, crayfish and freshwater shrimp.

The best flats also tend to have a mix of habitat features. This can include healthy vegetation, ranging anywhere from vast weedbeds to smaller patches of sand grass, as well as other types of cover, such as sunken logs, brush and timber.

Structure also increases a flat’s appeal for perch. These features can be subtle, like scattered rock piles, or pronounced features, like a point or creek channel.

Follow perch throughout the ice season

Expect to fish a variety of spots throughout the winter as perch change locations. Here’s a high-level example of perch movements during the cold-water season.
Healthy weed and sand flats in 8 to 12 feet are great early ice locations to catch perch on many lakes. By midwinter, though, most perch will have left the shallows, moving to deeper sand and mud flats. When the hard-water season draws to a close, perch push shallow once again, migrating into large bays, coves and canals, where they feed heartily and stage for the spring spawn. The best late ice perch locations contain ample forage, but also the right mix of spawning habitat (e.g., vegetation, strewn timber, brush, etc.).

Rattling baits are must-haves

Perch are often attracted to noisy lures. This is why many anglers consider rattling spoons to be the best bait for perch ice fishing. The Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon and VMC Rattle Ice Spoon are two reliable picks.

Don’t limit yourself to spoons, though. Jigging a Rapala Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap, Acme Hyper-Rattle Vertical Jig are other rattling perch catchers.

High flash presentations essential in clear water

Jigging a flashy metallic spoon is a great way to attract perch in clear water. The Williams Ice Fishing Spoon and Wabler, or a VMC Flash Champ in a UV colour or metal fleck finish are a few to consider adding to your perch ice fishing lure collection.

The Rapala Jigging Rap, Jigging Shad Rap, Acme Flyer and other swimming lures are also potent for perch. All of these come in various metallic and other visually stimulating colour patterns.

Learn how to catch yellow perch with finesse presentations

A good first step when perch are reluctant to bite is downsizing to a smaller lure, such as chang-ing from a 1/16-to a 1/32-ounce spoon, tube jig or other presentation. In addition to being snack-sized, smaller lures are generally lighter and fall slower. These characteristics work to an angler’s advantage when trying to finesse strikes from reluctant fish.
When fishing deep for choosy perch, try a dropper spoon, like the VMC Rocker. A dropper spoon gives you the best of both worlds. Its larger spoon drops into the strike zone fast and produces plenty of action to attract fish. Yet, the icing on the cake is its short dropper chain, which dangles a small, swaying glow resin Octopus hook — a sight even fussy perch find hard to ignore.

Soft baits fished on a jig or drop-shot rig are other reliable finesse presentations for catching perch. A few good baits are the Berkley PowerBait Micro Power Nymph, Mister Twister Mini Tube and Z-Man LarvaZ.

Live-Bait and scented soft baits help get more bites

Tipping lures and jigs with live-bait or scented baits is one of the easiest ways to catch more perch. The smell, taste and extra visuals from adding some meat or a smelly artificial go a long way to converting more lookers into biters. Berkley PowerBait Crappie Nibbles and PowerBait Honey Worms are examples of scented soft baits worth carrying for perch and other panfish.

Learn how to catch perch ice fishing using electronics

A portable, ice fishing sonar is one of the best tools you can have when ice fishing for perch. In addition to showing depth, bottom composition details and whether fish are in the area or not, sonar lets you watch fish reactions in real-time. Here’s an example of what this might look like.
After drilling holes on an 18 foot flat, an angler proceeds to catch a couple aggressive perch jig-ging a rattle spoon. Then the action slows, which the sonar reveals as fish approaching the spoon slowly, then backing away. Changing to a small Jigging Rap tipped with a couple Crappie Nibbles catches more fish. Eventually, though, a lack of fish activity on the sonar screen prompts the an-gler to move and relocate to find another pod of biting perch.

Pay attention to drop speed when jigging

One detail to always be aware of when jigging is the bait’s drop speed. For instance, fast falls often help call-in fish, but perch can get spooked when a lure drops quickly over their heads. Giv-en this, it’s a good idea to use the rod to control the lure’s descent after fish arrive on the scene, especially when jigging heavy lures.

Pause or keep jigging?

Briefly pausing after a lift-fall jigging sequence to allow a bait to come to rest can trigger strikes. Don’t linger too long, though. Get the lure moving again to mimic fleeing prey. One way to do this is slowly raising the lure to keep it just out of the reach of an interested fish. This keep-away tactic is a classic ice fishing maneuver effective at triggering strikes from all kinds of fish, including perch.

Using the right equipment to know How to catch perch ice fishing

Investing in a quality ice fishing rod and reel, along with 2- to 4-pound ice fishing line is money well spent. Using premium ice fishing equipment makes it easier to properly present a bait, detect strikes and successfully play big jumbo perch topside. You’ll also experience fewer line tangles, reel malfunctions and other hassles.


The 11 tips above only scratch the surface when it comes to strategies on how to catch big perch ice fishing. Hopefully, these insights help boost your perch prowess and see you having lots of fun catching perch throughout the hard-water season.


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