Ice Fishing for Perch in Ontario: Tips and Equipment Suggestions


January 20, 2023


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Ashley Rae Perch Ice Fishing

It’s Ice Fishing for perch season! Yellow perch are found in lakes and rivers all throughout Ontario. Although perch are targeted year-round, this species is very popular during the ice fishing season due to being easily accessible as well as being relatively simple to catch. Yellow perch also makes excellent table fare. In this article, SAIL collaborator and fishing expert, Ashley Rae of, will discuss some ice fishing tips and equipment suggestions for targeting yellow perch in Ontario.

Article written by Ashley Rae of

In this article, you will learn about:

  1. Where to Find Yellow Perch in Ontario
  2. Rod Suggestions for Perch
  3. Reel Suggestions for ice fishing for Perch
  4. Ashley’s Favourite ice fishing Lures for perch

Where to Find Yellow Perch in Ontario

Ontario is home to renowned jumbo perch waters, including: Lake Simcoe, Lake Erie, and the St. Lawrence River, just to name a few. If you’re looking to explore some new waters in pursuit of perch this season, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has an excellent tool to help you. The Fish ON-Line mobile fishing tool allows you to search for waterbodies that contain yellow perch, or other species. You can also use Fish ON-Line to check the fishing regulations, view maps, locate access points, buy a fishing license, and more.
Learn more about Fish ON-Line.

When targeting perch, I like to focus on transition areas, whether on flats or around humps that include: rock, sand, or vegetation, typically with a deeper basin nearby. Perch will cruise in and out of these types of areas and use these transitions, such as weedlines, as a place to feed and take cover from predators. I usually fish at depths anywhere from 5 feet out to 15 feet on waters in the Ottawa area however depth is relative to the waterbody and the types of forage perch are feeding on. It’s common on waterbodies such as Lake Simcoe, for example, for anglers to fish upwards of 30 feet where perch are found feeding on gobies.
Always ensure to check the fishing regulations before hitting the water. The Ontario Fishing Regulations Summary can be found here.

ice fishing perch

Rod Suggestions for Perch

SAIL offers ice fishing rods and reels that are already paired up and sold in combos. But if you wish to customize your selection, you can purchase rods and reels separately. Medium light, light and ultralight rods are a perfect match for perch as they were designed to detect bites from this smaller species (as well as bluegill, crappie, and other types of panfish). These lighter action rods are also made for use with the tiny lures and presentations used for these species. Rod length often comes down to preference. I typically ask people inquiring on a suggested length if they plan to fish from inside a hut as this can mean selecting a rod that’s a better fit for a smaller space, depending on the size of your shelter. Ideally you don’t want to be tapping the roof with a hookset or when fighting a fish. I personally like to go with panfish rods in the 30-34” range and I fish both inside a large shelter or outside on warmer days.
Check out SAIL’s selection of light and ultralight action ice rods.

Reel Suggestions for ice fishing for Perch

Since yellow perch are often found in shallow waters, you can get away with smaller sized reels which have a lower line capacity. The size 500-1000 spinning reels as well as inline-style ice reels are most popular. Due to their design, the inline reels significantly reduce line twist which means that you can confidently fish even the tiniest of presentations without having to worry that it’s spinning unnaturally.

Ashley’s Favourite ice fishing Lures for perch

When targeting perch, I like to run two rod/reel set-ups. The first is a light action rod paired with a size 500 spinning reel spooled with 3 or 4 pound test fluorocarbon. I typically run a micro swivel between my main line and a fluorocarbon leader on my spinning set-up to help reduce line twist. I use this set-up specifically with micro lipless crankbaits or spoons such as:
Size 3 Rapala Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap lipless crankbaits
1/16oz VMC Flash Champ spoons
1/16oz VMC Tingler spoons

Perch ice fishing VMC Flash Champ Spoon

These types of baits feature vibrations, rattles, and flash, which I use to call fish in. I also tip these baits with Berkley Gulp Alive Waxies for added scent and flavour. Perch are a schooling species so if you can get their attention, you’ll typically bring a few into the area. I work these baits a few inches or even a foot or two off bottom, raising and dropping slowly in the water column and then pausing for a few seconds after dropping. If perch come in but don’t go for my lipless crankbait or spoon, my second set-up usually helps to convince them.
This second set-up includes an ultralight rod with a 13 Fishing Black Betty FreeFall Carbon inline reel spooled with 2-pound test fluorocarbon. I use this set-up for small jigs, such as the 1/16oz VMC Tungsten Mongo Jig or other 1/32 to 1/16oz ice jigs. I usually tip my jigs with live wax worms for scent and flavour, or I’ll use micro soft plastics. This approach is a little more finesse and works well when fish are finicky.

Check out SAIL’s selection of ice fishing lures for perch.

I wish you all the best on your quest for yellow perch this ice season! Please be safe and always ensure you check the ice conditions before venturing out.

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