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Perch is probably the most common predatory fish that lives in the European waters.  It has a beautiful, striped body.  Even though it does not grow as large as the other predators, it is highly prized by fishermen.


The biggest specimens can reach maximum up to 40-50cm and be over 15 years old. Fish like that are considered a true trophies.  Every angler can count on catching at least few of those “tigers”, no matter the weather, season or whether he fishes lake or a river.  Small perch form large schools that hide near fallen trees, bushes, rocks and any sort of shallow structure.  Big ones live in small groups and prefer the bottom area of the lake, penetrating the shallow vegetative areas only from time to time.  Small perch are fairly easy to catch.  Their small experience and high competitiveness cause them to chase after every lure.  Big perch on the other hand, well that is a whole another story.  In order to catch them you need knowledge, experience and skill.  Right know the great majority of fishermen prefer to use paddle tail and twister tail plastics as a number one lure for the trophies.   Some would also add spinners and spoons to the list.  Also effective but less popular can be lures like blade baits, jigs, and soft baits on the dropshot system.  But has anybody ever asked the question if you can effectively catch monster perch on wobblers?

Over the last 2 years I tried to solve this puzzle, and in some sense I can say that I succeeded.  Even though for many years I was a huge fan of spinners, but when for the first time I tried catching perch on crankbaits, I immediately fell in love with them.  Perch is a very-


Curious fish.


When something “new” appears in the water, you can bet that perch will be the first one to check it out.  He is like a little explorer that constantly searches for something but is also very cunning at the same time. His main sense is sight, therefore the lure color is very important.  He is also reacting to the sound of spinners and tungsten balls in wobblers.  No matter the season, weather or the fish’s activity, you can find perch pretty much always and everywhere- he is common and fairly easy to catch.  Because of those factors, “tiger” is liked by anglers but also disrespected and underappreciated at the same time.  The maximal size that perch can reach depends from the type of habitat, fishing pressure, fisheries management and the presence of poaching.  There are places where perch can grow over 3 kg, but there are some where 1 kg fish would be a sensation.

Ok then- if trophy perch are so rare, then how does one find them and then tempt one to bite with a lure?  In order to catch a big one you need to meet a series of requirements.  First of all, it is crucial to properly match the lure and the fishing technique with the weather, time of year and habits of the fish in the given fishery.  Also a nice dose of pure, dumb luck won’t hurt either.  Now I will try to analyze each of those factors and explain how they can impact our success and how much of it depends from us and not just a lucky coincidence.  First of those factors is a-


Fishing technique.

Theoretically, there are two basic methods that can branch out into a series of various techniques, we are talking about casting lures and trolling.  If we are not too familiar with the lake and have a sonar or fish finder, then trolling would be our best bet.  We have to choose our lures according to the depth on which we want to fish.  It is important that they will be able to penetrate the area between the bottom and the thermocline, because this is the area where large perch are usually present.  This is usually the case in late summer, fall and winter.  The market is full of wobblers that should be good for catching perch.  However from my experience, Salmo lures were the best.  I have caught most trophy perch on Bullheads, Executors and Hornets.  The most important factor in determining my lure choice was that it would work in the “area of good bites”, which would be anywhere between the bottom and the thermocline, but at the same time that it would not dive deep enough to touch the bottom.  Any contact of lure with the bottom means disruption in action and the risk of a snag.  My trolling experiences are based on the lakes that are 8-9m deep.  From all the available models I have chosen

3 sets of wobblers


with which I can fish in virtually all conditions.  First kit includes the lures which are designed for fishing in the shallows.  They dive up to 3m deep.  The spots in which I use them are usually small lakes and ponds, or the shallow bays in big lakes where perch feed in the spring.  In places like that I like to use 4-5cm lures like Hornet 4F, 4S, Executor 5SDR, and Bullhead 4SDR. Their design makes them ideal for spring time perch  because they dive up to 2-3m, which is the depth where are the biggest perch at that time.

When trolling in shallow lakes and large, shallow bays where the depth is no greater than 4-5m, a good models to use are Bullhead 6SDR and Executor 7SDR.  They dive directly to the “area of good bites” and because of their design they have an incredible action!  Those are the models that had the best results during tests and that caught most fish over 40cm.  I specifically would like to praise the Bullhead 6SDR in natural (BD) color, which was definitely my number one favorite. It was effective every time of day and in all weather conditions.  There is no doubt that the “sculpin” is one of the most successful and original Salmo models.

The last set of wobblers are the models which I use in waters that are 8-10m deep.  Unfortunately there are not too many models that can dive to this depth.  Those that do are usually at least over 8cm which should make them less attractive for perch than the traditional- 4 or 6cm smaller baits.  My favorites in this category are Bullhead 8SDR and Perch 8SDR.  Although their size would rather suggest pike as the main prey, but trust me- a trophy perch can oftentimes attack such lure with much more ferocity than a smaller one.  A rather large depth makes the “area of good bites” larger than in the shallow waters.  Therefore we should penetrate not only the area close to the bottom but also the 5-6m open water zone.  A very good lure for trolling this depth is Hornet 5SDR, which can dive up to 6m.  When looking at their size it is obvious that they are ideal for fishing such spots.

Although when perch fishing 4-6cm lures are mainly preferred, sometimes jerkbaits turn out to be the ones that save the day.  Especially effective in the springtime can be Slider 10 and his cousins, Slider 7 and 12.  Although cases of catching perch on jerks are usually accidents during pike fishing, I heard many stories of giant perch over 50cm attacking Sliders pulled behind a boat.  When we know that such trophies are present in our waters, it is worth to give our Slider a 5 minute chance.  His unique and irregular action can turn out to be surprisingly fruitful.

In the last few years many anglers started using the “side weight” method.  This is simply an extra weight attached to the line that helps to get our lure to virtually any depth.  With wobblers that solves the problem of size and length of the bill.  With the properly chosen weight and leader, we can fish even a 15m depth with a 3cm Hornet.  With the “side weight” method we should use only the floating models.  That way we can use a very effective technique of changing the speed of our boat.  Our lure won’t dredge the bottom and will usually by attacked during that speed change.

We have to remember that the smaller lures require calm presentation and more technical rather than aggressive fishing style.  Especially in the fall perch do not like to play “chase” with their food, but rather just lazily collect it.

Another element which we can use in our perch hunt is the system called “Spinner Winner”.  It is a innovative design of a mechanism similar to that of a spinnerbait.  It consists of a leader that has a small spinner blade attached to the extra swivel snap.  The way it works is that the spinner blade imitates a small baitfish and the main lure attached to the other end of a leader is a predator that is chasing its prey.  A predatory fish like perch and pike are much more eager to attack in such cases because they know that the fish that chases the other one is less careful because it is focused on chasing the prey.

At first it was a big novelty for me.  Now I use it fairly frequently during trolling.  In some sense it changes the action of the lure.  A spinning blade decreases the wobbler’s diving depth, but increases the frequency of its vibration.  I had the best results with  Spinner Winner when I combined the spinner blade type “long 2” with a Bullhead 6SDR.

It turned out that whenever I used this system during cloudy or rainy days, I caught a lot more fish.

I remember one rainy, summer day when I was trolling with my friend and both of us were using the same lures, except that I was using the Spinner Winner and he did not.  At the end of the day I caught 11 perch and he had just one.  This proves that we have to experiment with different colors, lures and techniques because those little details are much more important that many of us think.

A totally different subject is a -


Character of our fishery.


The lake’s depth is one thing, but the water’s turbidity is a whole another story.  The amount of sunlight that reaches the bottom plays a huge role because it influences the amount of aquatic vegetation.  Waters that are very clear usually are also very rich in aquatic flora and therefore we may have a very hard time in retrieving our lure.  Also in clear water perch are very careful and it is hard to tempt them to bite.  On the other hand, a very turbid, “soup” like waters are not too good either.  We must keep in mind that perch is a sight predator.  In stained water he is much more eager to attack our lure but his field of vision is also greatly diminished.  A perfect water should be slightly “tainted”, with clarity of about 1,5-2m.

I use a few simple rules when choosing the color of my baits.  The clearer the water, darker the bait.  For example, black Hornet with gold stripes (BT) would be a perfect lure for clear water lake.  On the other hand, in stained or turbid waters I use bright colored lures because they are more visible.  Basically all the combinations of yellow, red, bright green and black will be a good choice in those conditions (Bullhead CYP, Hornet GT).

Weather can also play a big part in my color choice.  When it’s cloudy and rainy, I try to use strange blue-green-yellow color combinations like Hot Perch or Green Tiger.  When it’s hot and sunny I use models that are exact imitations of small bait fish like Executor Dace or Real Roach.  During a low-light conditions, for example at dusk or after sunset, I prefer wobblers with white belly (BD, RR).  I believe in the theory that says that if the fish attacks from the bottom, then it must be observing the lure’s underside.  Therefore when it is cloudy, a white belly will be more visible under the dark sky.  At the same time, when there is more light, a darker belly will be more visible over the bright sky (RS, BT).  This theory holds true when fishing for pike with jerk baits, but in shallow bays it  works with perch also.

Another important factor is our trolling speed.  There is a theory among the pike hunters that a lure must move fast in order to entice aggression and provoke pike to a strike.  However, I believe that when it comes to perch fishing, opposite is true.  I try to run my boat only as fast as it is necessary to get my lures to the desired depth.  Why is that?  Lets examine the body shape of a perch, or rather his tail to be more precise.  It is petite, small, and not as wide like that of a salmon or asp.  It means that it is not designed for rapid acceleration and moreover it says a lot about the perch’s slow and lazy lifestyle.  This sort of laziness can especially be observed in big perch.  The trophy sized fish prefer to calmly swim up next to the prey, take a look, and then eventually swallow it if they are hungry.  That is why particularly in the fall plastics are so effective for big perch, because they can be fished really slowly.  On five gear electric trolling motor, 2nd gear will be more than enough for calm weather.  I discourage the use of gasoline motors because in the shallow 3-4m waters it will spook the big perch away.

Ok, but how is it possible to properly-


Run our lure


so that it will work right above the bottom but do not touch it?  How come we supposed to know how much line we should release?  Majority of fishermen does it on the “feel”, or some of them are so experienced that they know how far they should troll their lures.  Personally when trolling plastics I use a special system that helps me to run my baits exactly above the bottom.  This system requires some time to investigate our spot, fairly even bottom, a stable trolling speed, a baitcasting reel and a fish sonar that will make our job a lot easier.  Always whenever I run with a stable speed and my sonar shows me a large flat, first I always do a “test” run.  I release my plastic lure or jig and count the number of handle turns on my reel.  From time to time, I close down the bail to find out if my bait has not reached the bottom; if not then I continue my counting till it does.  When I finally now how many reel handle turns do I need to get my lure to the bottom, I write down the number so I won’t have to do it all over again.  I subtract 3-4 handle turns from the number I got and that is the distance I use to run my lure.  That way I know that it swims right above the bottom but does not reach it.  You can repeat this process everywhere with many types and sizes of plastic lures.  But you must remember that the bottom configuration and the speed of the boat should be fairly even.  You must also take into account the strength and direction of the wind because it will also affect your results.  This system is very accurate and is very useful with trolling.  It is good not only with plastics but also with hair jigs, spinners, spinner baits, blade baits and of course wobblers.

The technique of trolling a crankbait behind the boat is fairly simple.  We hold the rod in our hand and just wait for the bite.  When we have no results we should let go some of the line, or do a few jerks or pulls.  All those irregular moves can bring a surprising results.  We also have to pay close attention to the rod tip and make sure our lure does not dredge the bottom.  When we feel that our bait is too deep we just lift up the rod tip.  If the bait is too high, then we lower the rod tip so that it can dive deeper.  It is also good to check if the hooks are clean from time to time. That way we can be sure that our wobblers work correctly.  We must also remember that the length of the line will affect the crankbait’s diving depth.  More line we release, deeper the wobbler goes.

For example, when I troll with Bullhead 6SDR in a water that is 4m deep and there is only a little wind, I use the #2 speed on the Minnkota motor and release 12-14m of line behind the boat.  The moment when I increase my trolling speed or release more line, my wobbler will dive deeper.  However, this co-dependence has a critical point.  When we release too much line, it will create a big arc in the water and its effect on our lure will be opposite- instead of deeper, it will run more shallow.  A wobbler’s resistance to this unfortunate effect is dependent on the size of its bill.  Bigger it is, it is easier for the lure to resist the effect of distance, speed and the line arc.  We also have to keep in mind that the length of the line and speed will also affect the action of our bait.  The increased speed will cause the increase in the amplitude in wobbler’s vibrations, and the increase in the line length will make its side “wobbles” wider and more fluid.  In the end we end up with the truth that the lure’s diving depth depends on the length of the bill.  All the main lure manufacturers write down the average diving depths of their products on the packaging.  It is important to keep those numbers in mind if we want to fish effectively.

When trolling, it is good to have a fish sonar too.  The most important info we will get from it is depth and the bottom structure, but it can also inform us about the presence of the baitfish.  Especially in the fall it is crucial to find the large schools of baitfish because big perch are usually lurking somewhere near by.  Then we must fine tune our technique so that our wobbler will penetrate the area below the school of baitfish.

Now lets talk about a plain old lure casting , whether it be by spinning or bait casting outfit.  When I fish in late spring and early summer, I look for perch in the shallow bays and underwater slopes that are not more than 4m.  Submerged trees, stumps and rocks are perfect locations because they make perch feel safe.  In May, my “sure bet” is always Hornet.  When choosing a color I use the same rule like with trolling.  Depending on depth, I use either floating or sinking lures in 3,4 and 5cm size.  When I fish underwater slopes, I always anchor on the deeper end and cast “up slope”.  In the beginning phase of my retrieve, I hold my rod tip high to avoid any snags.   With the increasing depth, I lower the rod tip down so that may bait can go deeper.  The deep end of the slope is usually where the big perch and zanders like to hang out.  In places like that it is good to use the side weight rig because it guarantees that our lure will always stay close to the bottom.  All stops, jerks and accelerations will give it irregular action and make it even more attractive to the fish.  Irregular or erratic action sends signal to the predator that the prey is either sick, injured or busy with something else and its awareness is diminished and therefore it will be an easy meal.

In springtime I also look for shallow bays with lily pads, and I fish all the deep water pockets and boundary areas of weeds and open water.  My standard lures that I use in such places are floating Hornets, Executors and Bullheads, especially the shallow runners (SR).  Those are the models that I am comfortable using in weedy places.

When searching for perch, it is important to observe the water surface, especially at dawn or right before the sunset.  That is when perch often chase the schools of baitfish all the way to the surface making them literally jump out of the water.  Usually those conditions  do not last too long so it is crucial to be quick in order to take advantage of them.  In moments like that I put on Executor 5SR, Hornet 3S, or Bullhead 4SR.  It might be good to also try a surface popper lure like Salmo POP in PH color and retrieve it with short twitches.  Strikes on those lures can be very explosive, but many of them are also missed.  It is crucial to keep the line tense and stay calm.  When fishing the surface lures we should not set the hook too early, but wait at least one second after a splash.

When it comes to-


Proper gear for fishing perch with wobblers,


It is mostly a matter of personal preference.  Everybody should use the kind of setup that feels comfortable and fits in to their personal fishing style.  Some are big fans of playing fish fast and hard, while others prefer to fish ultra light.  Our combo should not be too stiff because the perch’s mouth can be easily ripped under a hard hookset. This mishap is especially common with really large perch, making it just another story of “the big one that got away”.

Personally I prefer to use a baitcasting rod and a multiplayer reel.  My favorite perch gear for trolling consists of a Metanium Mg reel spooled up with 10lb Power Pro braid, a 6,6ft, 4-8lb St.Croix rod in fast action version or a Bass Pro Shop “Pro Finesse”, 1/16oz in medium light action.  When casting lures, I try to go as light as possible.  I pair up a rod that is marked at 4-8lb with “crankbait” action with a multiplayer Daiwa Presso spooled up with 8lb line.  Such finesse set up is perfect for perch.  Fishing with such gear is light and easy, and what is even more important- battling the big size perch is safe and exciting.

The longest rods that I use are no longer than 2 meters.  Shorter rod makes fighting the fish a lot more exciting and makes casts much more accurate.  Besides, it is much easier to operate with such rod when the fish is right next to the boat.

Now when it comes to using a metal leaders, there is a widespread opinion among the anglers that it decreases the number of perch bites.  Partially it is true, but personally I almost always use the leader.  Crankbaits are frequently attacked by pike, especially when trolling.  It would be a shame to let the fish die a slow death with hooks in its gullet, and to loose a good lure at the same time.

Next most common question, mono or braid?  In my opinion mono is better because it provides better amortization and decreases the chance of loosing the fish.  On the other hand, braid will give us much better hooksets and is much better to use with baitcasting type reels.  Mono line does not wind up on the spool as easily as braid and therefore can cause more backlashes.  Baitcasting is a very beautiful and interesting method, but at the same time it creates new challenges for the angler.  Especially the beginning might be a little difficult.  But with the properly constructed combo- rod-reel-line, it can be mastered after a few hours of training.  Especially when this training will be under the guidance of somebody experienced.  Because of the baitcaster’s design, not all the lures will be equally easy to throw.  The best-flying, perch sized wobblers from Salmo are Executor SR and sinking Minnow.  This is because those models are fairly slender and have small bills.  Lures with large bills (SDR type) have much worse aerodynamics which translates into worse accuracy and a shorter casting distance.

We must remember that fishing is a sport which enables us to be one with nature and to utilize its resources.  As a civilized and enlightened sportsmen we should handle the fish carefully.  We should treat them as our sport partners and remember that they are also living creatures and can also feel pain like us.  It is the fish that give us the most pleasure and enjoyment from our sport.  By releasing them we can express our gratitude and respect. Today promoting the Catch & Release rule is crucial for all fisheries.  That is why I encourage everybody to release their catches.  It is only because such behavior that we will have more trophies swimming in our waters, and therefore more fun fishing. Big fish deserve our respect!


Article: Mateusz Taszarek

Photo: Robert Taszarek

Translation: Artur Michalowicz

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