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Fishing for Record Breaking Yellow Perch

Fishing for Record Breaking Yellow Perch

By Mike Hall

The adventure began years ago when a friend in the local bass club asked “I have a good spot for Yellow Perch thru the ice, are you interested?” You must know that ice fishing was and is the passion of my winters. Fishing a spoon on hard water is effective and much the same as open water in the warmer months.

Wow, what a spot that was at Yuba Lake, Utah. Two pounders were as common as the mosquito in summer! Although the trophy fish are sadly gone, Yuba still has several of the world records for Yellow Perch kept by the Freshwater Hall of Fame!

Thus it began; a life pursuit of jigging spoons on hard water and being perched!

Just two short years ago my oldest son called to say “check out the perch on the internet. They look like the ones we used to catch when I was a kid”. These were the first pictures from the Idaho central mountains lake known as Cascade. An end for what I had searched for these last thirty years, a magical place to catch two pound Yellow Perch on a daily basis.

The Idaho Department of Fish & Game began a program to re-establish the perch fishery in Cascade Lake some years ago. Seems the lake was decimated by poor water quality and the Pike Minnow. A great management program is in place, and Cascade Lake has become very much a success in these past ten years. Several year classes of perch are available to the angler with lots approaching the JUMBO class.

A word here for conservation; big trophy fish take time to grow and are caught easily. Yellow Perch are dependent upon natural reproduction to reach Zilla size in 4 to 8 years. The latest wisdom is to release the largest fish and take the mediums for the table. The larger fish do not make as good table fare and yield less meat then the medium sized fish. Don’t misunderstand, I would personally recommend that taxidermy is the answer for the perch of a lifetime. Sadly though, I’ve see time after time a great fishery brought to dissipation because of over-harvest. Keeping with a good selective harvest helps maintain quality for any fishery. After all, “don’t ya just hate fishin’ for minnows?”

Yellow Perch are found from shallow (surface) to deep (40 to 50) water year round, depending upon conditions. They will relate to all structure, bottom type or current in any body of water. They are always willing to aggressively take any offerings of bait or lure. They feed actively on plankton, insects, crustaceans and minnows, especially perch minnows. An easy fish to get the kids or the entire family catching and a big time fun on any water. 

Spoons imitate minnows; the favorite food of perch. Baited, they will out fish nearly any other lure on any water for this fish. My favorite is the Mack’s Lure Sonic BaitFish® because it produces the desired effect; a lot of big fish. The strategy is being able to catch the Zillas, while avoiding the more numerous midgets.

Here are a few of the basic presentations with my favorite jigging spoon, the Sonic BaitFish, to help you meet up with Perch-zilla. 


  1. From the surface, free fall the lure on a slack line to the desired depth with an abrupt stop. Pause for several seconds. 

  2. Slowly raise the lure about 2 feet on a slack line; free fall the lure back to its original position with an abrupt stop. Pause for several seconds.
  3. Drop the lure to bottom slowly lift, then free fall the lure back to the back to the bottom. Slowly raise the lure off the bottom stop. Pause for several seconds. 

  4. At the desired depth, slowly pump the rod tip about ¼ of an inch up and down a few times. Pause for several seconds. 

  5. From the desired depth, slowly raise the lure a few feet and stop. Pause for several seconds. 
EXPERT TIP:  Electronics will greatly aid your success by allowing you to see the fish and the reaction they have to your presentations. I will say they help find and catch fish. 

EXPERT TIP:  Pauses; any predator will wait for just the right moment to strike and the long pauses are to allow the fish to target the lure. 

I had the privilege to see the Idaho State Record Yellow Perch (2.68 pounds) caught on February 15, 2016, by Luke Spaete of Boise; a first class angler and great person. Just in case you’re thinking “there goes my chance”, another giant of 2.64 pounds was caught February 17, 2016. This indicates that more records are available to be caught by anglers in this special body of water.

The people of Valley County and the city of Cascade are friendly and willing to help aid in your pursuit of summer or winter fun. I personally recommend to my friends to stay at Alpine or Birch Glen motels; to eat at the Route 66 Cafe and of course, obtain fishing knowledge of the late at Tackle Toms; they’re the best.

Fishing is about the trip, just like life is about the way we treat each other.

WISE WORDS:  Good is God spelled with two O’s. See Ya at the Lake!

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