In Lake Simcoe, YELLOW PERCH are the most sought after game fish through the ice providing steady angling action throughout the winter while providing great table fare. Jumbo sized perch in the 13 to 14 inch range are caught every season and can be taken with the right gear and know-how. As it stands today; a healthy, naturally reproducing population exists with a year round open angling season. To continue catching quality fish, please respect the current catch and keep regulations, and keep only what you need. Release those trophy sized fish as they provide the strong genetic stock and egg numbers for future successful stocks.
Biology: Spawns in the spring from mid April to early May when water temperatures reach 6-12 C. They migrate shoreward into the shallow areas of lakes and often into rivers. Spawning takes place near rooted vegetation, submerged brush or fallen trees and at times over sand and gravel. They can reach a maximum age of 9 to 10 years old.
Ontario Angling Record: The largest yellow perch was caught on March 20, 2003. Long Beach, Lake Erie, the fish weighed 2.42lbs, was 15.1" long and had a girth of 12.1"!
Lake Simcoe Size Range: Regularly average between 6-8" in length with upper 10 to 14" class range caught every winter.
Diet: Feed on small fishes, especially emerald shiners. In the late fall, schools of yellow perch will follow migrating emerald shiners into shallow bays and marinas for an easy meal. Their diet includes immature insects and larger invertebrates. They feed on small decopods called "sand shrimp" which are tiny, invertebrates which make up a large portion of their diet throughout the winter. It is not uncommon to catch perch coughing up large quantities of brown colored sand shrimp as they're brought to the surface. They also prey on the eggs and young of a wide variety of fishes. Active feeding usually takes place early morning and evening.
Recommended Baits: At the beginning of the season, yellow perch will hit just about anything. The most popular baits include but are not limited to:
- Live, small emerald shiner, small hook (#8 to 14) and splitshot or 1/32oz jighead
- Wax worms
- Perch eyes
- Small jigging Rapala (Model # W2 and W3)
- Simcoe bug
- Fin-S Minnows
- Gulp Minnows
- 1 to 2" twister tail jigs in various colours
- 1 to 2" tube jigs in various colours
- Spoons including williams whitefish, krocodile, swedish pimple, Mcgaffee diamond bead spoon
- Various hand tied flies mimicking small baitfish, sand shrimp or small invertebrates
Depth Range: Considered shallow water fishes, yellow perch are often found in water from 8 - 30 feet deep. During early ice in December and January, focus your fishing in the 10 - 20 foot range. The general rule is to begin shallow in the morning and work your way deeper as the morning progresses into the afternoon. During mid-winter, schools of perch may move to deeper water greater than 25 feet and as deep as 35 - 50 feet deep. Keep moving until you find an active school of fish. Keep in mind that yellow perch are inactive at night and will rest on bottom.
Winter perch will roam over sandy flats with sparse aquatic plant growth or relate to mid-lake humps and points. Early mornings often see perch shallow with a progressive movement to deeper water as the day wears on.
Current Lake Simcoe Regulations: Season is open all year for Yellow Perch
Sport License daily limit is 50 perch, possession limit is 100 perch
Conservation License daily limit is 25 perch, possession limit is 50 perch
Recommended Locations: With its shallow, weedy waters, Cooks Bay provides the best yellow perch fishing in Lake Simcoe. Cooks Bay is easily accessible by foot and offers early ice action as it freezes up fairly quickly giving anglers a head start to catch some aggressive early ice perch.
Snake Island and Fox Island is surrounded by great perch fishing waters. Look for shallow, weedy locations within the targeted depth range to find schools of fish.
The Barrie marina and waterfront also provide decent perch action during the winter including many of the shallow, weedier shelves within Kempenfelt Bay. Try fishing the recommended depth ranges in and around Fox and Snake Island.
To aid in finding productive Yellow Perch fishing areas/locations, the above map (produced by Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority) shows the locations of aquatic plant species (macrophytes) shaded in green. By knowing where aquatic plants are located, anglers will be able to locate large schools of Yellow Perch. As you can see, Cooks Bay provides the most abundant amount of aquatic plants within Lake Simcoe.
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