Yellow Perch

Perch are a popular species of panfish and are considered very good to eat - the commercial catch for them has always been in high demand.  They can be caught with a variety of methods, but the two best methods are perhaps float fishing and lure fishing.  The best way is to use a small hook and cast into the weeds just before the drop off.  When fishing with a float, the angler will want to have a disgorger; Perch are notorious for swallowing the hook, and will need aid of a disgorger or forceps for unhooking.  In many parts of the world they are also a favourite species among ice fishermen. They will take a variety of baits, including minnows, worms, maggots, bread and softshell crayfish.

Perch grow to around 5 lb (2.3 kg) or more, but the most common fish to be caught are around 1 lb (0.45 kg) or less, and anything over 2 lb (0.91 kg) is considered a prize catch.

Yellow Perch facts

  • Ontario record: 2.42 lbs (1.1 kg).
  • Average size: Around .75 lb (.34 kg).
  • Temperature and habitat: Summer habitat ranges from weedy areas to rock/sand/rubble shoals to mossy mud flats, but perch occasionally suspend to follow forage. Preferred water temperature is 68°F (20°C).
  • Biology: Spawn in early spring, scattering eggs in shallow water around vegetation and submerged wood.

Northern Pike

Effective methods for catching this hard fighting fish include dead baits, lure fishing, and jerk baiting. They are prized as game fish for their determined fighting and have been food fish since ancient times.

Lake fishing for pike from the shore is especially effective during springtime, at which stage the big pike move into the shallows to spawn in weedy areas, and later many remain there to feed on other spawning coarse fish species to regain their condition after spawning.  Smaller jack pike often remain in the shallows for their own protection, and for the small fish food available there.  For the hot summer period and during non-active phases the larger female pike tend to retire to deeper water and/or places of better cover.  This gives the boat angler good fishing during the summer and winter seasons.  Trolling is a popular technique.

The use of float tubes have become a very popular way of fishing for pike on small to medium size stillwaters.  Fly fishing for pike is another recently developing way of catching these fish, and the float tube is now recognized as an especially suitable water craft for pike fly-fishing.  Pike tend to follow the streamer often and best thing to do then is stop the retrieve and let the streamer suspend or sink to the bottom slowly.  For practical purposes very slow sinking fly lines and streamers with neutral buoyancy which remain horizontal in the water when stopped are very effective.  The use of rabbit fur for a tail makes the streamer look lively even when it is not moving.

Pike make use of the lateral line system to register low frequency vibrations and follow the vortices produced by the perceived prey, and the whirling movement of the spinner is a good way to create these. Jerkbaits are also really effective and can produce spectacular bites with pike attacking these erratic moving lures at full speed. For trolling, big plugs or softbaits can be used. Spoons with mirror finishes are very effective when the sun is at a sharp angle to the water in the mornings or evenings because they generate the vibrations previously discussed and cause a glint of reflective sunlight that mimics the flash of white-bellied prey. Most fishermen tend to use small lures but often that is not advisable because pike have a preference for large prey. When fishing in shallow water for smaller pike, lighter and smaller lures are frequently used.

Since they have very sharp and numerous teeth, care is required in unhooking a pike.  It is recommended that barbless trebles are used when angling for this species as it simplifies dehooking.  If practicing live release, it is recommended to call the fish "caught" when it is alongside a boat. Remove the hook by grabbing it with a pair of needle-nosed pliers while the fish is still submerged and giving it a flip in the direction that turns the hook out of the mouth.  This avoids damage to the fish and the stress of being out of water.

Northern Pike facts
  • Ontario Record: 42.12 lbs (19.12 kg).
  • Average size: Between 4 and 10 lbs (1.8 to 4.5 kg). Northern pike more than 20 lbs (9 kg) are considered trophies.
  • Temperature and habitat: Prefers water around 60°F (15.5°C) on rocky reefs and the edges of weedbeds.
  • Biology: Spawns in flooded areas and back bays in spring. Fertilized eggs are scattered randomly.

Whitefish 

Whitefish rarely exceed 15 pounds, with fish from 4 to 8 pounds more common. These fish readily attack artificial lures and, once hooked, they pull like a smallmouth and jump like a baby tarpon. They're also abundant in some waters and always provide an excellent meal.  Whitefish are cold-water fish. When surface temperatures rise into the mid-60F range, they move deep, staying below the thermocline much of the time. In early summer, they can be found on shallow offshore reefs or rocky points, feeding on insect larvae, leeches, and small fish. They return to these shallow rocky areas again in fall, when they spawn.

It's hard to beat 1/16-ounce marabou jigs or small in-line spinners, but in lakes with large northern pike populations, expect to get bit off continually. A small jig suspended beneath a float or casting bubble near the surface still takes lots of whitefish and won't attract as many pike. This rig can also be drifted or slowly retrieved across rocky reefs and points without hanging up. Just before dark, whitefish sipping emerging insects from the surface film often hit dry flies presented on a fly rod or casting bubble, or small compact spoons like Acme Kastmasters or Little Cleos. Trolling spoons also are effective later in the season when whitefish suspend over deep water.

Whitefish facts

  • Ontario Record: 14.77 lbs (6.70kg).
  • Average sizes: 4 lbs (1.8 kg).
  • Temperature and habitat: Can be found in big cold-water rivers and lakes. They generally feed on or near bottom.
  • Biology: Spawns during the fall.

Muskellunge 

Anglers seek large muskies as trophies or for sport. The fish attain impressive swimming speeds but are not particularly manoeuvrable. The highest speed runs are usually fairly short, but they can be quite intense. The muskie can also do headshaking in an attempt to rid itself of the hook(s). Muskies are known for their strength and for their tendency to leap from the water in stunning acrobatic displays. A challenging fish to catch, the muskie has been called "the fish of ten thousand casts." Anglers tend to use smaller lures in spring or during cold front conditions and larger lures in fall or the heat of summer. The average lure is 20-30 cm (7.9-12 in) long but longer lures of 35-65 cm (14-26 in) are not uncommon in the musky angler's arsenal. Anglers are strongly encouraged to practice catch and release when fishing for muskellunge.

Muskellunge facts

  • Ontario Record: 65 lbs (29.48 kg).