Cold hard gold… Golden Perch fishing in winter
Winter time tends to turn people off chasing Golden Perch, the cold water sends shivers down most anglers spines and this is also true with the fish, but that’s not to say it isn’t worth doing all together, sometimes a little effort and hard work goes a long way in the winter freeze.
Finesse is best!
My top tip for Golden Perch fishing in winter is to downsize everything, get finesse. I’m not just talking about your lure’s and line, it also pays dividends to downsize your retrieve action and speed too, finesse movements I have found are the key to success! The cold water temperatures cause the golden’s metabolism to go into a type of shut down mode, it doesn’t completely shut down but it slows down considerably. This means their appetite is only small and their need to feed, comes sporadically where they tend not to actively hunt for feed for as long as they would in warmer water.
This is where the downsizing your retrieve and lure comes in to play, If you can imagine that when a golden perch’s metabolism shuts down, it feels somewhat similar to a human feeling full and like they are going to be sick after a big meal. You might not want to eat another big meal straight away, but if your friend was standing quietly a few meters away with a bag of your favourite lollies, there wouldn’t too be many people who couldn’t be bothered getting up off the couch to go and get one.
This is how I like to think while presenting my lure to a fish in cold water, put yourself in the fishes place and think about whether you would be willing to get up and get a lolly when you feel full to the brim, especially if you had to chase down your friend who is running down the street and jumping about like an idiot. You would probably just want to stay right where you are and have a snooze! It’s no different with a fish, if your lure is a nice small treat for a perch, and you place it gently close by the fish’s nose, he might just cruise over and decide it’s worth a taste. If you immediately begin to wind and jerk your lure aggressively, you’re ripping it away too fast and the fish isn’t going to chase it down! Keep your retrieves as gentle as possible, even sitting your lure dead still on the bottom can be a deadly technique on winter goldens!
Small lures are my preferred choices when targeting cold water for golden perch. Blades, soft Plastics, suspending minnows and small hard and soft lipless crank baits are always ready to go when heading out on a winter perch mission! The Ecogear ZX40/35 Blades and their smaller brother, the Breamer vibe are absolutely dynamite cold water lures and always get a good run on every trip.
The warmth of the daylight sun can often bring on small bursts of feeding activity so theres no need to get freeze your butt-cheek’s off in the early hours of the morning to be in the game, how good is a sleep in! Daytime is often the most productive time to chase perch in winter although if you’re willing to brave the night time temperatures, there is still some great fishing to be had. Most of all, just get out there and enjoy some peace and quiet on the water!