Lake Simcoe in Southern Ontario, Canada is no secret when it comes to ice fishing for perch. As soon as the huts go out anglers from the US and all over southern Ontario will flock to the clear waters of Simcoe for their turn at world class perch fishing. Every year, perch in the 12 – 14inch (appx 1lbs-2lbs) range are caught and with fish that size, the possibility at catching a new Ontario or even Canadian record becomes much less of a fantasy.
To make that record fish a reality one could just venture out, drill a hole and rely on luck. No doubt there are days when there are 400, 500, even 600 huts out there all doing the same thing. So what can be done to separate yourself from the pack and not leave everything to chance? To answer this without getting too specific on what gear you are using or how you are using it, I like to take a step back and look at the larger picture.
Before I even start to think about what rod I should use, which line I should spool or what lure I am going to drop through the hole, I’m thinking about location and where I’ll be drilling my hole. For the most part this is easy, just walk towards all the huts out there and find your own piece of real estate, but again that won’t separate you from the pack. To gain an edge in this respect I like to use a smart phone app called Navionics. It will run you about $20 to install, but worth every penny if it’s going to put you on fish. Simply stated, the app allows you to view very detailed depth charts of most North American lakes and operates via GPS from your device’s location. I use it every single time I go out and all I am really looking for is some type of contour, shoal or other variance that I think will benefit my fishing. Using the app is very easy and can be vital in hole placement even by a couple feet. Although the app wont guarantee that your drilling right on top of a huge school of jumbos, it certainly helps to remove some of that plain luck and will separate yourself from those who aren’t using it.
Once you have your spot it’s game time and no doubt one thing is for certain – the fish have been shown thousands of lures since first ice. In my experiences, there are 2 types of lures for perch on Simcoe, those that catch jumbos and those that don’t. An angler can have a really good day catching perch, but not pull many jumbos through the hole based on what they are offering. My suggestion, switch up lures frequently until you find the one that the jumbos can’t seem to resist. Pretty much all hard water lures are worth a try, but my favourites have to be the 1 ½” to 2” Swedish Pimple (all colours), a medium sized Slab Grabber, 1/4oz Puppet Minnow (all colours) or a simple ¼oz – 1/2oz jig head (variety of colours). As mentioned, these are certainly not the only lures that can land you a jumbo, but are generally the ones I will try first to see what the jumbos are wanting on that day.
Always be safe and check the ice conditions every time your planning to get out and once you’re out if you follow these tips it will increase your chances in landing some world class jumbos and remove some of that pure luck factor that plagues many of the hard water warriors.