Try Jigging Spoons for Late Fall/Early Winter Perch


What are you waiting for? As you read this article, anglers are enjoying some of the best perch fishing in southern Lake Michigan from boats and from shore in Chicagoland harbors and river mouths with deep water.

The fall and winter months just may be your best chance to put a few fillets in the freezer. Spring fishing is often plagued by severe cold fronts with strong north winds limiting boat access and dirtying the water from just murky to chocolate brown. The summer fishery is often inconsistent, if it develops at all.



In Indiana waters, try the area out from the river mouth of Burns Waterway in Portage. In Michigan City, look for perch schools from the mouth of Trail Creek westward toward Black Ditch.

Traditionally, the area out from Calumet Park on Chicago’s far south side has produced good perch action from November on. Working in a boat from the mouth of the river for about three miles in 27 to 32 feet of water in the shipping channel often produces limit catches. Some sorting may be necessary. Even shore fishermen fishing from the breakwalls in this area catch perch in the shallow water at night using slip bobbers with baby golden roaches, shiners, or large fathead minnows. It is unusual to catch perch after dark, but they do it here. I even saw anglers catching fish during the daylight hours from shore.

Chicago harbors produced some nice fish and limit catches last fall. Harbors with at least 20 feet of water seem to produce the best. Montrose and Navy Pier were two of the better ones, from what I’ve heard.

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Standard presentations for fall perch, like double-hook crappie rigs, spinners with baby roaches, or plain hook or 1/3-ounce jig with minnows and a split shot all worked last year. However, the most productive and fun technique to use was a small jigging spoon tipped with a baby roach, large fathead, or minnow head and vertical jigging. The jigging spoon that produced the best was the Lindy Rattl’r Spoon. This compact spoon is made in three sizes, with the number 2 being perfect for the perch. The Rattl’r Spoon features premium brass rattles that really seem to attract perch. Add a glow-in-the-dark back and holographic finish and you have a real winner! Our best colors were perch/glow (RT023) and Fire Tiger-glow (RT024). Other good spoons to try are the new Kastmaster with rattles and the Luhr-Jensen Crippled Herring.

Use a quality ball-bearing swivel like those made by Sampo to prevent line twist and a good, 6-pound-test line like Berkley Sensation and you should be set.

Locating the perch schools was relatively easy. Just slowly motor through an area with your locator on and you should mark the perch schools along the bottom. Simply drop an anchor and start fishing. Some anglers like to drift with the wind, find a good perch school and then drop anchor.


Load up with warm clothes, watch the weather reports and enjoy jigging for late fall/early winter perch!