The white perch showed up in Lake Champlain in the 1980’s, likely heading into the like via the Champlain Canal. This scrappy fish is a member of family Moronidae which is much better known for its largest member the striped bass. That’s right, white perch are actually a bass (and largemouth bass are actually sunfish, walleye pike are actually perch… I could go on). They don’t attain the size of their larger cousins but they do put up a similar fight. White perch are also highly regarded table fare. In Maine folks tend to throw back yellow perch and keep the whiteys. I had that in mind when I went out.
|you can definitely see the resemblance to stripers!|
I chased my target species two separate days. I anchored in a likely spot and just started casting. Initially I was using a 6 weight rod with a 10 foot sink tip and a couple of flies. I had a tandem rig with a white bugger and an olive bugger, both size 6. That was not getting any interest from the fish so I switched up to a tandem rig with a couple of Clouser minnows. That changed everything. I had both a chartreuse and white and a pink and white in size 4 on there. The fish showed a distinct preference toward the pink and white. It didn’t matter what retrieve I used, slow, fast, medium, or varied all caught fish. I did seem to get more action on the faster retrieves though. What is really cool about these fish is that once you find one you have found a ton of them. They travel and feed in schools so just keep putting your fly back in the same spot.
The fight with these guys is awesome! They dig and pull like crazy. Even the 6 and 8 inch fish are tough customers! I definitely want to try them out on much lighter tackle like a 5 weight. I know it would be a blast.
|13.5"- my Master Class white perch|
|A mess of fish... sucked to clean though...spiky lil things!|
Generally I am a catch and release angler but I am not opposed to keeping fish. Fish are an excellent source of protien and as long as you are targeting a species that is numerous why not keep a few? As far as I am concerned the white perch is a perfect table fish- it is an invasive species in Lake Champlain, has excellent numbers, and is great tasting. I can't confirm that last bit being deathly allergic to fish and shellfish myself, but the folks who ate it said they were great!
Next on my Master Class to do list- yellow perch (and a few others)! I will keep you posted on my progress. Right now I am at 16 of the 33 species in the Master Angler Program. I want all of them if I can...