Yellow perch are native to Cape Cod's ponds, and fishing for yellow perch with lures and live bait can be very productive during late winter and early spring.
This past week on March 9th I headed out freshwater fishing in hopes of catching enough big yellow perch to make a meal.
Regardless of whether or not I caught any fish, I knew the simple act of getting back on the water would feel mighty good. I don't know about you, but Spring is almost here and I am excited to be fishing again.
You can continue reading below for my latest yellow perch freshwater fishing report.
Yellow Perch 101
The average size for yellow perch is between 4 and 10 inches, however on Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts they can grow to be much larger.
In fact, the world record for yellow perch is an 18 inch 4lb 3oz fish. The perch was caught in New Jersey way back in 1865 which makes it the longest-standing record for a freshwater fish in North America.
As their name suggests, yellow perch are quite colorful, with a pattern of 6-8 dark vertical bars over a background color of yellow or yellowish-green.
Yellow perch reach sexual maturity within 2-3 years. They gather in large schools each spring and spawn in shallow water. These schools can contain upwards of 200 individual fish, and are an important food source for largemouth bass, cormorants and other species.
On Cape Cod and in southeastern Massachusetts you can find yellow perch along the shoreline among weeds, docks and other structure. They seem to thrive in weed-filled ponds with a mucky bottom, as opposed to deep and open water lakes.
March 9 Fishing Report
It was a cool and breezy morning when I woke up at 4am on March 9th, so I made sure to bundle up. The forecast was calling for gusty winds, but fortunately the pond we'd be fishing was small and protected.
By 6:30am we had arrived at the spot and the first thing I noticed was the peace and quiet. It was a refreshing feeling to be back in the woods and surrounded by nature.
I was excited to hop in the Jon boat and get underway via trolling motor power. Fishing from shore is always fun, but the Jon boat would allow us to go straight to where the big schools of yellow perch were hiding.
MFCC Member Jeff Coates
During this trip I would be fishing for yellow perch with My Fishing Cape Cod member Jeff Coates. You might recognize Jeff from his insightful posts inside our private forum.
I first met Jeff when I was a teenager working at a small bait and tackle shop, and we've been sharing fishing information and tips with each other ever since
Jeff has always been pretty dialed-in on the local freshwater fishing bite, so I jumped at the opportunity when he invited me to go fishing for yellow perch. Like most great fishing spots, Jeff discovered this area by spending hours on the water and putting his time in.
Bait, Technique and Gear
For bait we used live shiners and chubs fished just off the bottom. We used a 5/16 ounce weight with a size 1/0 hook that was tied about 12 inches up from the weight.
The way Jeff rigged this was by tying a Palomar knot to the size 1/0 hook and leaving 12 or more inches of tag line, which was then used to tie on the 5/16 ounce weight. Please remember that lead weights are prohibited from use in freshwater ponds in Massachusetts.
Yellow Perch Blitz!
Jeff started up the trolling motor and we glided along the tranquil surface of the pond, towards his yellow perch honey hole.
We began by fishing a drop off, where the bottom went from 7 to 10 feet. There was also grass growing along the bottom in this spot.
The bite was on from just after sunrise until maybe 8:30am. A school of yellow perch had taken up residence on the deeper side of the drop off, and we were able to experience some fast and fun fishing.