Sunday, March 20, 2011

Innisfil Perching, Lake Simcoe

 It was just one of those weekends... you know, when you're up and down like a geriatric with a bladder infection trying to get some sleep. I got home from work at 11am Friday morning and immediately logged on to the internet. Before I realized it it was 3pm so I dragged myself up to bed in the hopes of getting a few hours sleep to "kickstart" my daylight weekend. This was not to happen as when I finally woke up it was 3am! Even though there's hundreds of 24hr channels on the TV, this is not the way that I want to spend the precious few hours allotted to "entertainment" on my weekend. Luckily for me Tackle Shop does have a bladder like a geriatric, waking up every few hours to go to the bathroom, so we actually managed to hit the road as the sun was rising.

Our destination: Lake Simcoe. Our quarry: perch, with the possibility of herring, smelt, whitefish, lake trout, ling, bass, pike, musky, walleye, carp... and so on. Last Saturday was our first trip of the hard water season to the big lake and we opted for convenience and speed, fishing in downtown Barrie, as it was an unplanned trip nestled between some not-so-ice-friendly weather conditions. In the past Barrie had produced some mediocre days so this weekend (possibly the last weekend on ice) we decided to go to a known hot spot...Innisfil's 6th Line, about five miles south of Barrie on Cook's Bay. Our last outing on the ice for 2010 was at this location exactly a year ago with non stop action and we were hoping for a repeat performance. 

 At this time last year on Simcoe the ice was still relatively stable but finding access to the ice was the real problem. As we approached the end of 6th Line, I was relieved to see a line of parked vehicles, suggesting the ice hadn't receded too far from the shoreline. Upon closer inspection, we found someone had placed a pallet along the beach that a dozen other anglers had used to get out on the ice. Right next to the pallet was a melt water inflow eroding the ice and my main concern was not about getting out but being able to get back to shore by mid afternoon. We'd tackle that problem later, for now we were going perching!

  I pulled our sleds out over the rocks and pallet onto solid ice while Tackle Shop parked the van. We walked out just over 100 yards, drilled our holes in 16 inches of semi-porous ice over 38 feet of water, and were immediately into a school of hungry perch. TS went with his usual set up of two rods at arms length in holders, tipped with shiner minnows, while I quickly realized the futility of trying to constantly monitor two rods with the abundance of hungry and willing fish beneath our feet.
Halis - panfish kryptonite!

  My tactic for the day was to bounce from hole to hole, following the schools, using a single ultra light rod with a Finnish, Hali jigging spoon tipped with maggots, small pieces of minnow, or the eyeballs from the perch I'd already caught. As it turned out, moving was unnecessary as there were fish everywhere. I'd landed over a hundred 8 to 9 inch perch in the first hour and a half but only kept a half dozen.

  Meanwhile, TS was having the same action, but using two rods with live minnows, he was busy re-baiting every few minutes and his catch rate suffered. On the other hand, because of the live minnows he did manage to ice a nice 20 inch herring and of course there was always the chance of hooking something significantly larger.

  As the day progressed and the catch numbers climbed beyond all expectations, it became clear the real "jumbo" perch (12 to 15 inches) were not to be found in this immediate area. By early afternoon, Tackle Shop and I started checking out how the other anglers were doing. Perch were being caught by the hundreds in 6 to 60 feet of water with only a handful of jumbos iced. By mid afternoon we were ready to call it a day, having iced an estimated 600 fish between the two of us and keeping only a couple dozen for dinner. Sometimes is just good for the soul to get out on a late winter sunny day and catch tons and tons of fish!
My keepers, 8-11 inches
Mid afternoon visitor
   My earlier concerns about reaching shore thankfully turned out to be unfounded. The weather forecast for this week calls for daytime temps just over the freezing mark with nights dipping enough to undo the daily damage, so there's a good chance of a repeat trip to the land of plenty next week.


  1. If I was fishing on ice I'd want 38 feet of ice and 16" of water to feel safe.


  2. Good looking bag.
    What's you recipe for cooking perch?

  3. I would think that your trigger finger and arm (hook setting one) would be severely strained after catching some 600 fish. You might end up on the DL before next trip out!

  4. Some great Perch there John, But i was watching the film footage and i was just waiting for one of them Ice Road Truckers to go passing through haha, God it looks cold,

  5. Great trip John...
    I'm hoping the ice will hold up here for another trip myself.
    Perch are just starting to move into shallow spawing waters around here.
    Enjoy your fresh perch!

  6. Phillip
    Thanks for dropping by. 4" of ice is what I start the season on.

    Brk Trt
    I normally fillet perch just like a walleye, shake fillets in a plastic bag with pancake mix, salt, pepper and cayane for bite, and fry in a pan with bacon grease. Served with home fried potatos, baked beans and maybe some brussle sprouts. Fast and easy, sorry no pictures.

    No fishing related injury could keep me off productive ice, but between you and me... it's all in the wrist action.

    Not cold at all, 0 celsius all day. Several ATVs and a lorry did drive by.

    Looks as if you did well this weekend. Weather this week suggests another week of ice access here.