Ice Fishing – Yellow Perch

Strange thing … the power that fish averaging only 8-inches long can have over humans. Yet, despite their size, yellow perch have a following of devotees in Colorado, especially among ice fishers, where the devotion can approach the cult level.

Perch loyalists tend to be narrow in their focus, interested in seeing nothing but perch coming through the ice. Trout caught incidentally are fun to play and release but are otherwise considered a nuisance, a diversion from the mission, which is putting as many perch on the ice as possible.

The average yellow perch caught in Colorado measures 6 to 8 inches in length and weighs less than ½ pound. However, perch measuring longer than 10 inches are found in many reservoirs. These “jumbo” perch are the prime targets of the loyalists, who will drive considerable distances to catch them.

The Colorado state-record perch measured 12.5 inches and weighed 2.5 pounds. The all tackle world record, caught in New Jersey in 1865, weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces. It is the longest-standing, freshwater sport-fish record.

Perch fishing success at Colorado reservoirs west of the Continental Divide, where there are no bag and possession limits, is measured by the bucket. A five-gallon bucket holds approximately 100 perch, and you will need about half a bucket to pull off a decent perch fry.

Popular perch fisheries in western Colorado include:

  • Crawford Reservoir State Park– not many jumbo perch here but good numbers of smaller ones
  • Rifle Gap Reservoir State Park– plenty of perch in the 8-inch range and a good chance for jumbos
  • Blue Mesa Reservoir – perch were introduced here illegally and Parks and Wildlife encourages anglers to keep all that they catch. Although schools may be difficult to locate, there have been reports of perch measuring 14 inches

East of the Divide, the daily bag limit is 20 yellow perch. Front Range perch fisheries include:

  • Aurora Reservoir
  • Boulder Reservoir
  • Brush Hollow Reservoir
  • Chatfield Reservoir
  • Horsetooth Reservoir

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