Targeting Perch on Lac Vieux Desert
Many Wisconsinites are familiar with some portion of the Wisconsin River. It flows 430 miles across the state – and it all starts in Lac Vieux Desert, one of the best perch factories in the Midwest.
Lax Vieux Desert, a 4300-acre lake located on the border of Wisconsin and Michigan, is a destination for anglers targeting musky, walleye and northern pike, as well as panfish – crappie, bluegill and perch. This body of water is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts year-round offering beautiful views, great fishing, and lots of memories!
The opportunities on Lac Vieux Desert are endless, but let’s talk about one of my favorites: perch.
Ultra-light rods are my weapon of choice with small tackle, such as mighty mites, moon glow jigs, blood worm jigs, and small slender spoons. Little slip bobbers offer up a lot of action and fun. No matter where I am fishing, I set a slip bobber so I know I am within inches of the bottom taking all the guess work out of where my presentation is located.
Over the years, I have learned when I fish a new body of water it’s crucial to stop and talk to resort owners, local anglers, bait shop owners, and people coming off the water at public landings. I like to come into an area on a Friday or Saturday and cruise the lake. I do not start fishing blindly! Take note of where people are fishing and pay attention to those who are in the same location day after day because they are on fish.
My journey on this body of water started years ago when I was scouting throughout the Midwest. I stopped in at Hill Side Resort, located on the South shore of Lac Vieux Desert, for a sandwich and got into a conversation with Little Robbie Andersen. The knowledge he shared with me in conversation was not loud enough for all to hear, but I hung onto every word. This is the man who owns the resort and has hunted and fished Lac Vieux Desert his whole life. When he talks, I listen!
We started with musky and walleye and after discussing his favorite hotspots, I had a starting point. He told me where to look for rock bars and ledges and where the river ran through the lake, along with humps and holes. While we were talking toothy fish, I was indirectly putting a game plan together for my perch attack and where to begin. See, where there are green weeds, there is larvae. Where there is larvae, there are baitfish. Where there are baitfish, there are panfish. Walleye and musky eat panfish. And there you have it – where there are walleye and musky, there are perch!
It is also important to know the time of year you are fishing. Early in the season, it’s important to concentrate on shorelines where there is a deeper hole or current providing oxygen to quickly green up dead weeds after a long winter. Snow cover on the ice throughout winter blocks sunlight from penetrating into the water – this depletes oxygen levels, killing off the weeds.
I know from years of early-season research that perch usually spawn immediately after walleye, and usually while the suckers are spawning at the 42- to 52-degree water temperature. The preferred bait for many anglers is clumping up a few wax worms or spikes on a hook under a bobber. If there are perch in the area, this presentation will create fast action.
Where there are small perch, there are usually larger perch lurking in the very same area. I like throwing down my Aqua-Vu to see exactly what I am dealing with underneath me. I have found the bigger perch in the school put on their feed bags coming into spawn, so I like to use 3- to 5-inch flathead minnows hooked through the back. Let them swim around under the bobber and wait for the bite.
If casting and retrieving live bait, hook the minnow through the lips so it has a natural swimming action on the retrieval. No matter the technique, attempt to stay within a few inches of the bottom because perch tend to be bottom-roamers.
As the summer moves on, post-spawn and later, temperatures are on the rise. Perch love cold water, so look for the transition in deeper water going from rock to mud. Perch are a schooling fish, so where you find one perch, you will find more.
If you locate crayfish in the lake, then you have found another great bait option. Hook the 2- to 4-inch crayfish towards the back of the tail and simply let it swim around. Frabill makes a variety of crayfish traps – choose your favorite and trap your own live bait. Give this technique a whirl! If you don’t want to deal with live presentation, the tails will work as well.
Another summer method is to find the deeper holes where the water will be colder and bait with minnows. Without a doubt, livelier bait catches more fish so keep your minnows aerated in your Frabill Flow Troll® bucket.
There are many Wisconsin lakes that offer excellent perch fishing and the same techniques will apply. The Eagle River chain has miles of great fishing along with spectacular views. North and South Twin Lakes offers some deep holes and transition areas to hold perch. The key is to make sure you get some information on where to go and what is hot before you wet a line.
To give yourself a head start, visit Lake-Link.com and check out the fishing reports forum. Select the county you’re exploring and find lakes in that area, maps, what people are saying, and guides. If time is of the essence and your travel doesn’t allow extra days for scouting, schedule an outing with a local guide to put you on fish.
Take a drive and explore Wisconsin. You may discover a new favorite fishing hole. Good luck on the water – and make sure you call me when the perch fry is done!
Captain Pat Kalmerton grew up in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, learning to hunt and fish under the instruction of father Roy Kalmerton, a lifelong outdoorsman. He co-owns and operates Wolf Pack Adventures (WolfPackAdventures.com) offering guide service on Lake Michigan, its tributaries and inland waters. Pat has appeared on numerous nationally-syndicated fishing and hunting television shows and has his knowledge featured in many outdoor magazines.