I used to be distracted after I set the hook. It was a good looking spring day of bass fishing close to the shore of western Lake Ontario. I used to be admiring the stonework of Previous Fort Niagara as an alternative of being attentive to my drop shot bouncing off the underside. Nonetheless, I might really feel a strong fish when it thumped the bait.

It wasn’t an enormous fish—definitely not the 5-pound smallmouths we would been catching that week. I anticipated a small walleye, however a couple of minutes later a fats yellow perch pushing 12 inches in size was flopping alongside the boat, fooled by the mushy plastic I would been tossing.

“First rate perch,” Joe Fonzi mentioned, proprietor of Thumbs Up Information Service in western New York.

First rate? In most locations the place yellow perch are discovered a foot-long slabber is photo-worthy. I’ve seen mounts of yellow perch that weren’t a lot larger than the one I shook off that Might day. Curious, I later requested Fonzi in regards to the perch-fishing alternatives discovered on Lake Ontario.


“Put it this manner,” he mentioned, “On the proper time of 12 months, on an excellent day, you’ll be able to fill a 5-gallon pail with simply 35 or 40 perch. I do not care the place you might be, that is an excellent mess of jumbo perch.”

ice perch lake ontari
Catching fats yellow perch from a frozen Lake Ontario is an expertise value having fun with.

From Sackets Harbor within the east to the mouth of the Niagara River within the west, the inlets, bays, and river deltas of Lake Ontario supply among the most interesting yellow perch fishing within the nation. Within the autumn—when the perch migrate to shallow and cooler water to feed for the approaching chilly—and through a restricted ice-fishing window within the winter, Lake Ontario anglers have loads of alternative to catch loads of Lake Ontario’s jumbo perch.

Good And A lot

With unwavering year-over-year consistency, yellow perch sit atop the checklist of essentially the most caught fish species in Lake Ontario. The New York Division of Environmental Conservation’s annual standing reviews supply a glimpse into the true dimension of Ontario’s perch. A 2020 report of gill netting efforts confirmed yellow perch lengths ranged between 5.7 inches and 12.3 inches, with the common fish coming in barely over 8 inches. On common, about 18 p.c of perch netted by DEC exceeded 9 inches in size with the most important fish weighing in near a pound.

These netted fish had been captured and measured by DEC crews in the summertime. By the point fall rolls across the perch are busy bulking up in anticipation of the chilly months forward and are chunkier than in the summertime. And because the autumn waters cool, the perch fishing heats up. Seasoned Lake Ontario anglers say the yellow perch are transferring into the shallow bays and inlets in pursuit of emerald shiners and younger spherical gobies discovered within the rocky bottoms of the bays.

The feeding frenzy continues all through the winter—as does open-water fishing for them when and the place situations permit. And when the climate turns North Nation frigid, a number of spots on Lake Ontario can have sufficient ice for ice fishing. Chief amongst them is the Chaumont-Three Mile Bay space close to Watertown, NY.

“That is the coldest a part of the lake, and the one actual spot to rely on getting protected ice,” Louis Pagnotti mentioned, who runs Chaumont Masters information service and is on the ice nearly day-after-day of the winter season. “We are able to moderately count on to have good ice from January 1 till late February or early March.”

family ice fishing for yellow perch on lake ontario
Catching large yellow perch by the ice is an thrilling household exercise.

Chaumont Masters is a novel fishing enterprise on the large lake. Pagnotti has heated shanties on the bay, provided with bait and outfitted with Garmin LiveScopes to make sure there’s by no means a boring second on the ice. Walleye are prime targets, however loads of yellow perch are iced as properly. Pagnotti additionally presents lodging, with an inn on the bay and a motel in close by Henderson, NY.

He mentioned hardwater anglers on Chaumont Bay can count on to catch numerous yellow perch when situations are proper.

“I wish to say Chaumont is thought for its high quality walleye and amount perch,” he mentioned. “In the event you can fill a 5-gallon pail, that is an excellent day.”

Suggestions And Strategies

One of many nice issues about yellow perch fishing is that it does not require the most recent and biggest technologically superior tools.

In November, having a ship could be important to success. “Perch have a tendency to high school up by dimension, so that you is perhaps moving into a multitude of 8-inch fish, however should you can transfer to a spot and discover faculties of 10 and even 12-inchers it turns into a complete completely different recreation,” Fonzi mentioned.

Ideally, you will be fishing in depths lower than 15 toes, so the secret’s discovering backside.

Drop-shot fishing is the strategy of alternative within the autumn. “Use the lightest sinker you’ll be able to to get to the underside and use two hooks,” Fonzi continued. “My first hook is tied solely a pair inches above the sinker as a result of I am searching for these fish which have their noses proper down on the underside and their tails are sticking up. My second hook is 14 to 18 inches above that. The fish are all oriented towards the underside, nothing is suspended.”

eating yellow perch is the best
Yellow perch are arguably the most effective consuming freshwater fish, particularly when caught from the ice.

Dwell bait, like small emerald shiners, are lethal year-round. In the event you’re exploring new water, take a while to seek out the bait and sort out store closest to the place you are fishing earlier than you head out and pester them for information. At Chaumont Bay, a go to to Chaumont {Hardware} is the can’t-miss cease for ice anglers. Not solely is the shop a bait and sort out store, nevertheless it’s additionally recurrently abuzz with info on ice situations, and even buys yellow perch from anglers who wish to promote their catch.

Outdoors of utilizing stay bait, Pagnotti recommends jigging with an Acme Kastmaster.

“When there is a faculty of perch underneath the ice beneath you, it is key that any person at all times has a bait within the water,” Pagnotti mentioned. “When the whole lot is correct, you’ll be able to catch yellow perch right here as quick as you’ll be able to pull them up.”

Ice Life Data

Contemplating an ice-fishing journey to Chaumont Bay in jap Lake Ontario? Lodging, shanty leases, and guiding can all be offered by Louis Pagnotti at Chaumont Masters. See Chaumont Masters or name (570) 510-0911 for particulars.

Chaumont {Hardware} at (315) 649-2959 is a worthwhile useful resource as properly. Any journey onto the ice at Chaumont Bay ought to begin right here. The shop’s Fb web page can also be a wealth of data.

You’ll be able to attain Joe Fonzi of Thumbs Up Information Service at (716) 998-8373.

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