We were on them directly. I hardly had my rods rigged before Freiburger had a handful on the ice.
“Typically, once you find ‘em and you can get them going, they’re cooperative,” Freiburger said. “It’s fast fishing when it’s happening. Hit that school as hard as you can as quickly as you can. It’s that feeding frenzy thing. It’s not going to last forever. They move and they may come back or they may not. When they’re in the hole, make hay, because they’re like kids — if you don’t keep them entertained, they run off.”
Both Freiburger and I were fishing with small jigging spoons (Swedish Pimples) tipped with small minnows. Usiak was fishing with a conventional perch spreader rig — two minnows on separate hooks — about 18 inches apart. We were all catching them, some nice ones and some throwbacks, but we were all getting them in the same place — right near bottom.
That’s the thing about perch. They run the bottom. The only time I’ve caught them much more than foot or so up — and this goes for open water as well as through the ice — is when I was on a large school of them.
“Pound the bottom, that’s my experience,” Freiburger said. “I’ve never caught them very far up in the water column.”
Freiburger said some of the guys he fished with in Minnesota would start the day with a large spoon — like a Dardevle — and bounce if off the bottom a few times before they ever even dropped a bait, just to get the perch attracted to an area.
We fished for a while and the action slowed. We started hole-hopping until we started catching them again, but they were all running small. That’s when the proverbial light bulb in my head popped on.