Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lake Michigan Perch Report

After four summers of loading our livewell with limits of jumbo perch like these the 2010 season has been a bust. This photo is from late June 2009.

Out of the seven or eight times we have ventured out only twice have we each come in with enough perch to make a meal. I guess we’re jaded from previous success. Others we talk to report similar results.

One reason I have not published any fishing trip experiences is because the few I have taken weren't much to write about.

The migratory habits of the perch may have changed and I can only blame the weather. While they don’t actually migrate they do follow their food source, which consists mainly of minnows, crawfish and smaller perch. Canibals I tells ya’. Wanna talk about animal rights?

Our sources of insider information are baffled as well. Even the expert at the Mik-Lurch bait shop in Hammond is quite perplexed. As he admitted to me Tuesday, “I thought I knew everything there is to know about perch fishing but this year has told me I don’t know sh!t.

The consistent hot spot this summer has been the Navy Pier area in Chicago. The Mik-Luch guy told us early on that spot has been consistent giving up jumbos for off-shore boaters in the area. It hasn’t changed, that was his recommendation again yesterday.

The problem for us is fishing off Navy Pier means buying an out-of-state Illinois license, paying $40-50 for launching in Burnham harbor (thanks Dick Daily) or powering up from Hammond and making a fifteen mile run each way. Finally, dealing with all that boat traffic and congestion near Chicago isn’t worth it. The surface gets artificially roiled by larger craft and staying out of the way of tourist boats and sailboats rag-baggers is a pain.

In addition to all that nonsense, Illinois closes all Lake Michigan perch fishing during the month of July. It’s simply state DNR political bullsh!t with the intent of “saving the perch resource”. If only they were as concerned about the invasive bighead Asian carp.

Only the reciprocal area of Calumet Harbor is open to perch fishermen of both states since the Indiana border is about ten yards parallel to the Illinois shore fro about a mile.

We’ve done ok near Michigan City. That’s where we nearly caught three limits (45) in one morning.

Soon the salmon will begin their run chasing the perch far off-shore so Tuesday may have been our last run for perch this summer.

It was one of the finest nice weather days I have had on Lake Michigan in a long time. We had a nice boat ride.

After November 1 it gets good again for jumbos and we may get back out weather permitting. It’s been said that’s the best perch fishing time of the year for the jumbos, which often exceed 14” in length. That makes perch similar to keeper walleye.

We’ll see.

This sign caught my eye entering the Hammond Marina. It was taken at the entrance to the Hammond Marina near the Horseshoe Casino.

Looks like someone from the Hammond Port Authority ripped off a sign from The Chicago Park District judging by the small print at the bottom of the sign.


Dan from Madison said...

haha awesome sign. The CPD has been theiving people for decades so I laugh at them being thieved back.

That carp thing is a coming menace. I have been doing a bit of reading about it and it is nuts.

Another thought on the perch, does water temp have anything to do with it? I vacationed in South Haven, MI last week and the water was almost 80 degrees, the warmest it has ever been since I have been going up there. Made for a great vacation splish splashing, but I thought that a lot of the fish that like colder water would probably be far off shore. Of course I don't know shit about this subject, but thought you may know on the water temp thing.

Carl from Chicago said...

Sorry about fishing. We need to go out some day and you can show me what to do. Or we could go ice fishing with Dan and I's friend Rick.

Gerry from Valpo said...

Weather is the only reason I can think of why the perch aren't biting. Some are down there because they show up on my sonar graph and we do catch a few smaller ones. They are nibbling but not taking the bait. It's puzzling even for the experts.

Water temp may be making them lethargic. Wind has much to do with water temp in Lake Michigan more than air temp. When the wind blows away from shore it takes warm surface water and pushes it to the opposite side. When wind is consistently from one direction cooler water from the bottom replaces the warm water that has blown away. Perfect conditions for perch on the southern shore would be consistent west, southwest or southern winds. Winds less than 15mph make it safe and comfortable to go out but we've pushed that limit before. Really bad conditions develop when the wind is constantly changing directions as low pressure systems come and go too frequently.

Carl, we have avoided asking anyone out because of crappy fishing, waiting until conditions improve. We'll get you out, maybe in late October when we go back out or very soon if the reports are good. September is out because that's when big salmon move in. I haven't ice fished in years but would like to try again.

Terry from Crown Point said...

Carl, Gerry's right, we'd love to have you out, but not to go through a lot of trouble only to have an industrial boatride. He'll let you know if fishing conditions improve. Although, an industrial boatride beats work every time.