Ice fishing is a realm of its own for anglers. Fishing in harsh, cold weather means you have to have the right gear and be prepared to cater to the needs of fish beneath the ice. Many anglers wonder how deep to ice fish perch, as this is one of the most popularly fished species for ice fishing.
In this article, we’ll explain how deep perch roam under the ice and what depth you should drop your bait to. We’ll also share tips and strategies on getting the best accuracy of depth. You’ll even learn about which bait/lure and equipment will help you to be the most successful when seeking out this fish.
Keep reading to enhance your knowledge of ice fishing for perch!
Bait and Lure for Ice Fishing Perch
Before you worry about your bait depth, you need to decide on the right bait. Perch prefer to eat freshwater shrimp, bloodworms, insects, and the occasional small baitfish. They may even feed on crayfish or some vegetation, depending on their environment. So, when you’re choosing an ice fishing lure and/or bait, consider the following options:
- Ice jigs
- Waxies (waxworms)
- Live bait (minnows)
Whichever bait/lure you choose, something flashy is ideal, so look for lures with brighter colors. If you don’t want to re-bait immediately after a failed bite, you can top a jig with a worm or grub.
Further, the size of your lure/bait should be proportionate to the size of the perch you want to catch. By choosing a larger lure (spoon or plastic + live bait), you can entice larger perch who are able to bite.
Equipment for Ice Fishing Perch
In addition to the right bait, you’ll need accurate gear for the occasion. Aside from basic ice fishing clothes (layers, gloves, hats, scarves, waterproof boots, waterproof socks, etc.), you need the right setup.
When rigging, you might try drilling two holes close together and putting a flashy lure in one and live bait in the other. This means you might have to bring two ice fishing rods and have a way to set them up.
You should come equipped with
- Bucket for live bait
- Sonar equipment
How Deep Should You Drop Your Bait?
The answer to this question is different for nearly every type of fish you seek out. In the wintertime, fish linger at specific depths under the ice in order to hunker down and wait out the cold. When ice fishing for perch, you should know exactly how far to drop your hook to catch them.
Because of their specific oxygen and feeding needs, perch tend to habitat depths of roughly 15-25 feet in the wintertime. In the early season, they will linger closer to the ice, then move deeper as winter progresses.
In general, though, perch hang out pretty close to the bottom of a body of water. Therefore, stirring up mud at the bottom with your lure can be a good way to get their attention at first.
Another perch habit to be aware of is their tendency towards geological zones where the depth changes. For example, you’re likely to find them at drop-offs underwater.
Dropping Bait to the Right Depth
You can get more accurate by setting up a rig and using sonar technology to find the fish. Fish finders like Garmin’s Striker, for example, are extremely helpful to see below the ice. Sonar is also really useful when you’re trying to map out the lake bottom to see where the depth changes.
- Includes dual-beam transducer with Garmin Chirp traditional sonar for crystal-clear images and remarkable target separation.Control Method:Touch.Special Feature:Bluetooth.
- Built-in Garmin quickdraw contours mapping software lets you create and store maps with 1’ contours for up to 2 million acres
- Built-in GPS lets you mark waypoints, create routes and view boat’s speed
- Bright, Sunlight-readable 4.3” display and intuitive user interface
- Rugged design for every fishing environment. Frequencies supported: Traditional: 50/77/83/200 kHz, Transmit power: 200 W (RMS)
Best Strategies for Catching Perch Ice Fishing
There are a few key strategies that help anglers zero in on perch in the wintertime.
Stay Close to Bottom
Depending on the complete depth of the body of water you’re fishing, you may or may not want to drop your jig to the bottom. One strategy is to drop the jig to the bottom to stir up the matter, then raise it up a couple of feet and linger.
Don’t Wait for Perch
Don’t drill a hole and set up a rig in a spot where the sonar doesn’t detect fish. Go directly to where the perch are and focus on those holes.
Attain a Map of the Bottom Structure
If you can get a map of the body of water you’re fishing, or use sonar, you can find the cliffs, legends, and channels. These areas are where perch most commonly reside in the winter.
Bring a Variety of Bait/Lure
Try out live baits, plastic lures, spoons, and combinations of live and plastic options. If the perch don’t seem to be interested in your minnows and worms, switch to flashier plastics.
Lure the Perch Upwards
You can try luring fish upwards from the bottom by using a spoon or flashy lure. Jigg your line as you reel in slightly to see if you can get them to follow what looks like a feeding frenzy in their eyes.
Final Thoughts – How Deep to Ice Fish Perch
You’ll have the most luck with perch if you arrive with the right bait/lure, equipment, and knowledge. Beneath the ice, these popular game fish have specific habits that you need to remember.
Keep in mind our above strategies and guidelines regarding perch depth to get the best success when ice fishing. Good luck catching perch, and don’t forget your warm clothes!