W ith any luck we will be able to venture out on our larger lakes connecting to Lake Michigan for perch this month. The focus in our area will be Pentwater, Pere Marquette, Manistee and Portage lakes. You never know which one of them will be fishing the best and it is a good idea to check them all out. According to the Sea Grant Meeting in January the young of the year perch fingerlings are in huge numbers throughout the whole Lake Michigan system- not just in the Southern half. The Sea Grant didn’t know how many we will actually be catching when they become adults due to predation. It was nice to hear that the population seems to now have the potential to come back.
Perch entering into the drowned river mouths typically like the deepest water they can find in February. They do tend to migrate toward the east end of the lakes near the river mouths later in the month to stage for spawning. Navionics has a great app for your smart phone for $10.00 that offers excellent lake maps of all the medium-to-large lakes in the state. The GPS on your phone will show you exactly where you are at. I have found good perch numbers on the edges of the deepest holes in the lakes- the edges seem to fish better than right in the center of it.
Herring populations are also on the increase in our area. If you are fishing with a graph/flasher and suddenly see a wall of fish marks about 10 or more feet off the bottom pull your jig above the marks and jig aggressively. Herring will typically chase your jig, just play keep away with them. Do not plan on catching more than one out of a school because by the time you get your jig back down they normally have moved on. I have done this using slender heavy spoons like a Hailey Jig and wax worm but have not caught as many on non baited spoons such as a Slab Grabber that just has a bead on it.
Good luck on the ice and we are all hoping it gets thick enough to drive machines on it this winter.