Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lake Michigan Perch.

Chicago has been called the City of Big Shoulders. It's a Steak eatin’ town…stockyards…union thugs...wiseguys. That’s why it is amusing to me that you will see a lot of large blue-collar types out on the piers and breakwalls in Chicago harbors fishing for small perch. It's because those little fish are so damn tasty.

Perch are not big, if you catch one that is 14” you have a trophy. Last year we caught many that size. Here’s one that went 10.5”.

Lucky me, I have a boat. I can fish in Indiana waters in the month of July while The People’s Republic of Illinois closes their season for the month. They claim it's for conservation reasons but I don’t buy it. Commercial perch fishing has been banned for years.

They believe that perch are in decline due to invasive non-native species like the round-nose goby and zebra mussels that stowed away in the ballast of Russian freighters that then got dumped in the Great Lakes. Those species fight for the same food source as the perch. Indiana disagrees and allows year round perching with a limit of fifteen per day per person.

Over 44 million people over the age of six go fishing. That’s one out of every five Americans. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, almost twice as many people fish than play golf.

According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, anglers spent over $5 billion on equipment, nearly $15 billion on fishing trips, and some $20 billion more on boats, trucks, licenses and other fishing-related products and services. For example, anglers paid a cool $290 million on ice alone! And these impacts are growing. Latest data regarding tackle retail sales and imports have all shown increases. – Source: the American Sportfishing Association.

I’ll tell you what, I just love to go to fishing! All over the Midwest and Canada…yep. Big ones, small ones I don’t care. I fish for food, companionship, adventure and fun. A bad day fishing beats a good day golfing to me.

Saturday my brother and I went out on Lake Michigan to fish for perch. It was a sunny day with predicted winds from the S-SW. and light chop. They were correct. My rig can handle 4-5’ waves and rollers but it is uncomfortable and bordering on dangerous. Saturday was a great day to get some sun, be on the water and catch some perch.

My choice of boats is a Lund. Made in New York Mills MN. Here's mine.

If you travel through Wisconsin and Minnesota you will see Lund’s outnumbering all other brands of boat by far. In southern states Ranger and Bass Trackers are the fishing boat of choice, some with 225hp outboard motors the size of a refrigerator on back. Must be a NASCAR thing.

I also trust Yamaha outboard motors. My 90hp is over 16 years old and never have had the slightest problem with it. It hits 40mph and that’s fast enough for me. Guys with 150’s pass me by but I pass them when they're refueling at the gas dock. I also have an old Johnson 15hp leftover from my old boat and it serves as a “kicker” motor for trolling and as a safety backup.

A calm and clear day allows my favorite view of the Chicago skyline (in the middle photo above). If you look close you will see a cargo ship leaving Calumet Harbor on the left.

On the bottom is a barge.


Dan from Madison said...

Nice setup! Damn those perch are tasty I have to agree. What depth usually to get those in Lake Michigan and what kind of bait/rig do you use?

Annie said...

Check out the fish pic on today.

Gerry from Valpo said...

The rig we use is cheap and simple. A drop weight (1/2oz) under two snell hooks tied to the main line. One is about 6" above the weight and the other is another 6" up. Baby Roach shiners is our bait of choice.

Since we will be going out a lot this month I will post a follow-up including a how-to with photos.

Annie, that shorpie image looks like the cover of a supermarket tabloid. I did not know they had photoshop that far back.

gerry from valpo said...

Oops, forgot to mention we went out to 30' of water at the end of the Mittal peninsula.