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Springtime Perch Fishing is Fantastic in Cayuga County 

By George Fiorille

Many fishermen and women strongly feel that the yellow perch is the best tasting fish in fresh water. Cayuga County sports world class fishing for these fish in spring and other seasons. 

 Cayuga County is lucky that it holds four lakes that support fantastic fishing for yellow perch. Lakes such as Ontario, Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles, hold not only numbers of fish, but quality ones as well. 

The New York bag limit is 50 perch a day. While there are no size limits on perch, many anglers will not keep one unless it’s at least 10-inches long. 


When anglers first flock to early spring area Cayuga County Lakes, the fish are often found in deep water 20-40 feet deep. Sometimes in late fall, they may go to depths of 60 feet or more. As area waters warm, perch finish their spawning and will migrate into shallower waters. Good early areas to fish are often where there’s old weed beds and sunken timber.  Unlike other panfish that will spawn by making a nest, perch will just squirt their eggs on the top of weeds. After the females let out strings of eggs, the males will follow behind them and fertilize the eggs.  

Perch are easy to catch and can be caught on a variety of techniques. Many anglers score well with small minnows such as fat heads. Some believe that by using larger bait such as shiners, you will catch a bigger perch. Other live bait that can work if you can find them are crawfish and oak leaf grubs.  

  Several different artificial creatures can catch perch in the spring. When they are in deep water, vertically jigging for perch with small spoons used while ice fishing excels. The bass fishing technique of “drop shotting” excels for them in deep water. Rig a sinker on the bottom and 12”-18” up the line tie in a small size #2 or #4 hook. Make sure the hook ends with the point straight up. Attach a small crappie grub nose hooked. Try to slightly shake your offering without moving the weight.  

One of the best type of jigs to use for perch just may be hair jigs. Try using ones in sizes 1/16, 1/8 or even smaller in buck tail or marabou.  

When the water warms up later in the spring and perch move shallow, you can catch them with other lures. Try casting lures such as small stickbaits, crankbaits, and in line spinners for more active fish.  

You don’t need heavy tackle to catch a perch. Many anglers like to use light lines with ultra-light tackle. Others prefer to use medium light tackle in longer rods. Try using braided line tied to a light fluorocarbon leader for better sensitivity.  

What yellow perch lacks in fighting ability; they make it up with great taste. Try fishing the Cayuga County waters mentioned with the techniques described for some fantastic action this spring.