Fishing Lake Simcoe - Yellow Perch|
Lake Simcoe is famous for it's Jumbo Perch fishery. Perch are heavily targeted throughout the ice fishing season, with most anglers concentrating their efforts in the many shallow bays in and around the lake. Some of the more productive areas for Jumbo Perch include Cook's Bay, Lake Couchiching, Virginia Beach, Snake Island, Innisfil Beach and Beaverton. Perch are very plentiful in Lake Simcoe and are caught on a variety of techniques. The basic perch rig, baited with small minnows, wax worms or maggots is the most popular angling method, although artificial baits have be know to produce some larger fish.
Lures of choice include small jigging spoons (in silver / gold), Badd Boyz and Meegs jigs tipped with tube baits, Rapala jigging Raps, Slab grabbers and tear drop jigs. Lake Simcoe Perch will forage on invertebrates, fish eggs, crayfish, and small fish. They have also been known to be cannibalistic, and lures which mimic juvenile perch can be productive at times.
Anyone who has cleaned a mess of perch from Lake Simcoe knows that they are generally full of small freshwater invertebrates, known as freshwater shrimp or scuds. These small shrimp are very abundant in Lake Simcoe, especially in areas with green milfoil. Generally if you find an area with clumps of these green weeds you will find perch. Lures which imitate these scuds can be deadly. Tear drop jigs tipped with white Berkley maggots can produce great results. Local anglers have also designed a jig which closely resembles these scuds and aptly named it the "Simcoe Bug". The Simcoe Bug is a small jig head, usually orange or pink in colour with thin red or orange bands.
Perch are schooling fish and generally when you catch one, others aren't far behind. Ice Fisherman will fish an area for 15-20 minutes, if the area doesn't produce, they will move 100-200 feet and drill new holes and try again, being mobile is the key to success. Once a school of perch are found, double headers are not uncommon, since winter perch can be very aggressive especially in the morning and afternoon. Best fishing times for Lake Simcoe jumbo perch seems to be between 8-10 am and 2-3 pm. Fishing depths also vary, although 15-30 fow produces the most fish.
Perch also prefer to school with fish of the same year class, if you're catching all small fish in a particular area, the chances are the majority of fish are small. Once you find a few Jumbo Perch, there are usually more around, so concentrate your efforts in these areas.
Spring is also a very popular time to fish for perch on Lake Simcoe. Every spring, large Jumbo Perch will move into shallow bays to spawn. This is the time of year, when the biggest perch are caught; fish in excess of 1 lb are not uncommon. Many anglers will concentrate their efforts in areas with thick green weed beds, generally in 10-15 fow. Cook's Bay, Lake Couchiching and Atherley narrows seem to be the hotspots. Each spring the Annual Perch Festival attracts hundreds of anglers to the Orillia area, where tagged perch are released. Anglers lucky enough to catch a tagged perch during the event are awarded prizes.