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Perfect days, and even more perfect perch

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Dino Branfield has been taking his daughter fishing ever since she could walk. Luckily she inherited her dad's love for the sport.

Elle, 15, recently added to her record of Manitoba Master Angler species. On a trip last week to visit friends in the Interlake, Elle and her dad, both from Morden, decided to try for some perch on Lake Manitoba. Given her talents for catching trophy sized fish, it was little surprise to her dad when she pulled out a 15-inch monster. Big perch like that are something Lake Manitoba has been producing more of in recent years.

In the last couple of weeks, I have been out twice to the big lake to catch perch for the frying pan. On our last trip 10 days ago, we had a perfect day: no wind and temperatures above freezing. We were also able to drive on to the lake through a farmer's field on the south end -- a luxury you won't have now with all the snow that has fallen in the last couple of days. (For information on access visit my blogspot at

Once on the lake, we headed seven kilometres north to an area Jim Price had marked on his GPS. If we did not have that waypoint, it would have been like finding a needle in a haystack. Was the trip worth it?

If you have never caught big perch on ultra-light equipment, it would be hard to appreciate the day we had out on the big lake. The sun was shining out of a cloudless sky and the temperature hovered around 4C on the ice.

While the perch were reluctant to bite, there was enough action to make it thoroughly enjoyable. When we left at two that afternoon, we had managed a half-pail of perch, many over the 10 inch mark and the largest at 12.5 inches.


TACTICS: Jim Price and his friends from Portage La Prairie have been fishing Lake Manitoba for perch a long, long time. Some winters are better than others, but all would agree that the fishing is not as good as it once was. When you look on your electronics and see all the fish marking around your hook, you know it is not because the fish population has declined. Everywhere we stopped and drilled holes we marked lots of fish. Commercial fishermen believe it's because the lake is jammed with food for the perch and other species. Judging by my two days spent fishing, I would have to agree. In the end we tried a number of different techniques to get some fish to bite. The first day we caught the majority of the fish on a small jig with half of a salted shiner threaded over the hook.

The second time I started experimenting with all the different power baits I had brought along. In the end we started getting the fish to commit on Power honey worms, which I had received a few years back from Berkley. I had them in two colours, white and chartreuse, and both seemed to work.

If you could find any meal worms or euro larvae at your local tackle store, you would be in business as well. We also found the fish really started biting around 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. By 2 p.m., the action was over and we headed home. I was using both two- and four-pound mono as well as four-pound Berkley Nanofil and all worked well. Water depth was about four metres, and a little bit of stretch in the line didn't hurt. All the fish we caught were on the bottom. You could tease a few to come up and bite the hook a couple feet off the bottom, but that was a rarity rather than an exception.

At the end of the second day, I used a small Northlands Buckshot rattle jig tipped with a honey worm to catch some nice perch. Funny thing is that they would not hit the bait while jigging but only after letting it stand stationary in the rod holder. It just goes to show, that each fishing adventure is different, and it pays to experiment to see what will be successful.

Anglers Notes: Fishing for walleye on Lake Winnipeg has been very hit and miss the last three weeks. There was some really good action on the big lake for the first half of February, but things have slowed down. Anglers are hoping it will pick up again before the season closes at the end of March. Lake trout fishing in Northwestern Ontario remains very good this winter, especially in the Whitefish Bay section. It's also time to plan a trip to Shoal Lake for jumbo whitefish.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 3, 2012 C10

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