Saturday, February 12, 2005
A guide to yellow perch fishing at Fish Lake
Fish Lake offers a variety of fish species for the angler. Rainbow trout are the traditional favorite, lake trout lure those hopeful of catching a trophy and splake provide excellent winter fishing. Another fish is drawing considerable interest, however. In fact, it is rapidly becoming the most abundant fish found in the creel. That species is yellow perch.
Yellow perch were illegally-introduced into Fish Lake in about 1970. Since that time, they have become very abundant. The extensive weed beds in shallow water all along the shoreline provide protection from predators, excellent spawning habitat and food in the form of invertebrates and small fish for perch.
Why fish for yellow perch?
It would be tough to find a fish as tasty as yellow perch that is so easy to catch. It doesn't matter how old you are, how much fishing experience you've had or what time of year it is. In a day you will probably catch several of these small pan fish (averaging seven inches), and possibly a five-gallon bucket full. Each angler can keep 50!
Yellow perch numbers need to be reduced. By taking home a lot, you could help improve perch growth rates. You might also be doing other fish populations a favor. Increased abundance of perch has been detrimental to rainbow and lake trout populations. Yellow perch have reduced the food supply for lake trout by preying on young Utah chubs. With a scarcity of Utah chubs, lake trout have turned to eating primarily rainbow trout. Consequently, survival of rainbow trout has declined.
How to catch them
It is important to remember that yellow perch are closely associated with aquatic vegetation. Beds of aquatic weeds surround the entire lake. This is especially true on the north and south ends of the lake and along the west shore. In most locations these areas extend a considerable distance from shore. Anywhere you find weeds, you can usually catch perch. You can catch them any time of year. The most common rig for yellow perch is to tic on a small (I/I6- to 1/8-oz.). Another good lure is a shiny spoon (silver is a good color) with a treble hook. A super duper, kastmaster, or Swedish pimple also work great. You'll also want a few nightcrawlers. Arrange a small piece of worm on the hook of whatever lure you use. A tandem rig (two lures tied about 16 inches apart will often produce two fish!
Photo by Tom Pettengill
Boat fishing during mid-summer is probably the best way to catch a mess of yellow perch. Anchor your boat at the deep edge of the weed beds. Drop your lure into the water close to the edge of the weeds. Lower it to the bottom, then reel it up six–12 inches. The lure will be about ten feet deep. Twitch your line and wait for a strike. When you feel a fish hit, pull up on your rod and reel the fish in. The longer you fish, the more fish will move into the area. If it isn't windy, you can watch a school of 50–100 fish.
Winter is a great time to catch yellow perch. Drill a hole right over the weeds in five–ten feet of water. The fish will be scattered throughout the weeds rather than just at the edge. Use the tech-niques explained for boa( anglers. A meal worm on an ice fly also works. Once you find the correct depth and start getting bites, you probably will not need to move. Get your buddies to fish close by to help attract a school of perch.
You don't need to have a boat to catch yellow perch. Pick any location along the shore. Use a bobber (bobbers are particularly helpful to see fish strikes) to suspend a piece of nightcrawler on a small hook (size 8–10) about a foot above the weeds. Cast out to the edge of the weeds or into open pockets. Let your bobber drift, then cast again. Twitch your line occasionally to entice the fish to bite. It may take a while for the fish to notice your worm, but be patient. Again, the longer you fish in one place, the better it gets.
How to fillet yellow perch
- Lay the fish on a hard, flat surface.
- Remove each fillet by first cutting through the flesh behind the gill covers as shown in A-B. Slice along the backbone from A-C. Push the knife from C through the fish to the vent and continue to slice along the backbone until the flesh is severed near the tail. Lift the top off the fillet, away from the backbone, and carefully stroke the fillet from the ribs until it can be freed.
- Remove the skin fromn each fillet by first laying it skin-side down. Slice some of the skin of the tail end away from the flesh. Then, holding this small end of free skin, push the knife forward along the inside of the skin.
How to cook yellow perch
Yellow perch taste great cooked by any method. Here is a good recipe:
Dip 1 lb. of fillets in egg batter (4 eggs beaten with 1/4 c milk).
Coat them with flour mixture (2 c flour, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper, I tbsp paprika).
Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown, less than 5 minutes (do not overcook). You will enjoy these bite-size, shrimp-like morsels!
You can get to Fish Lake in a passenger car. During winter, roads and several parking areas are plowed.Fish Lake is in Sevier County, southern Utah. It is about 40 miles southeast of Richfield. Travel east from Richfield eight miles on Hwy 119, south 26 miles on Hwy 24, then east six miles on Hwy 25.
How to get to Fish Lake
Map of Fish Lake
Forest Service Campgrounds, gas, and a limited amount of fishing tackle are available seasonally. Cabins can be rented year-round by calling Fish Lake Resorts at (801) 638-1000.
Fishing seasons. Fish Lake is open to fishing year-round. The lake usually becomes icecovered by January 1 st and thaws out during May. A fishing licenses is required for anyone 14 years old and older.