Been Somewhat Of A Different Year!
From being on the ice earlier than we had ever been to catching 10 pound Walleyes in 47 feet of water. Many things this year have been very out of the ordinary.
A lot of usual haunts have been dead seas and some out of the normal areas have produced some of the best Perch bites. We keep checking a lot of those usual haunts and time and time again they have proven to be pretty desolate of the usual Perch schools. Either they just aren’t there or they are, as of yet, inactive.
Places like East Bay behind Pop’s, The Casino, The South Shore, and pretty much all of the Flats have been pretty disappointing so far. There have been quite a few bright spots. Everything East has been above average so far and the Northern Feeder lakes have not disappointed again as they have produced many Walleyes and even quite a few Jumbo Perch.
If this trend continues, we will still have what will go down as an above average year.
The name of the game so far this February has been:
The big schools of Perch, lately, have been in 40+ feet of water. The most active Perch that we have found have actually been deeper than 45 feet of water. Some positives and negatives to that scenario.
With a Vexilar you get a really good view of the bottom and have a view of more that just a few inches of the bottom. A fish presence is readily readable on the bottom.
It takes a long time for any lure, unless used with a pencil weight, to get back down to an active school of Perch. Sometimes the amount of time it takes for that lure to get back down to them is just enough time for that Perch school to lose interest and be gone.
Every fish, large or small, that is reeled in at a regular pace is a keeper. 40+ feet of water is too deep and their air bladders and eyes are usually popped. The biggest problem we see is that often times there are some smaller walleyes mixed in with the deep water Perch. Those small eyes can be mixed right in and actually act just like an active perch. When they hit it, a guy thinks he has a pretty good perch on and just starts reeling. The disappointment is realized when a 9-12 inch walleye comes up through the hole with eyes bugged out and air bladder protruding through the mouth. Obviously, no one want to keep a 9 inch walleye. HOWEVER, the right thing to do and the legal thing to do is to keep that small walleye as it is not going to live.
Lures of Choice
I know I sound like a broken record but we will say it time and time again:
GOLD rules Devils Lake!!
It never ceases to amaze us how Gold lures out fish all other colors in the winter on Devils Lake. We always have at least 3 or 4 gold lures tied onto rods when we are out chasing Perch. If you are coming to Devils Lake, every lure you own, make sure that you have at least one of each in gold.
Our two go to’s are Buckshots and JBLures Varmints. Throw in the Gold Tungsten and you have pretty much all you need.
Our bait of choice is always Minnow heads. We are looking for ACTIVE Perch and ACTIVE Perch will hammer a lure tipped with a minnow head. There are times we will throw a Perch eye at a docile school to see if it triggers them but for the most part its the minnow head.
When fishing gets really tough, like it has been the last few days, we will deploy wax worms and spikes. I prefer not to but sometimes you have to downsize and that is all they will bite on.
Time Of Day A Factor
We wouldn’t call it a rule as of yet, but, for the most part so far our 2017-2018 Perch schools have taken on many Walleye characteristics. The early mornings and later evenings have been the more intense bites. It has been almost like clockwork when that sun reaches towards noon the Perch have really settled down in activity. Not everyday, but many, many time this year; that has been the case.
Good Luck Out There!!
Hold On To Your Rod!!
Find Your Tree!!