Jumbo Perch in the Shoal Lakes of Manitoba

It was five years ago that I first heard about the fantastic fishing for jumbo perch on this shallow prairie lake. Having to check it out for myself the first perch I caught on East Shoal measured 38.10 centimetres or 15 inches.
I had never seen a perch this big before, never mind landed one.  I knew right away that this was a special lake and since that time the fishing has gone down a bit as more and more anglers make the trip. The important part in all of this is to remember to release those trophy fish. A perch that size is old, probably about ten years of age.
Yellow perch spawn once a year in spring using large schools and shallow areas of a lake or low-current tributary streams. They do not build a redd or nest. Spawning typically takes place at night or in the early morning. Females have the potential to spawn up to eight times in their lifetimes. While East Shoal Lake is relatively shallow, flooding over the last ten years has allowed the perch and pike to thrive and has prevented winter kill because of the improved water levels. North Shoal Lake and West Shoal Lake also have perch, pike and some stocked walleye. All of these lakes can be fished in the summer but access is not easy. A small boat is recommended.


PERCH WATERS; For years East Angling Lake in the Duck Mountains was the place for jumbo perch. The largest perch registered on the all-time Master Angler list is now 42.42 centimetres or 16.7 inches. It was caught by Kate Upton ice fishing in West Shoal Lake which lies a short distance away. All my trips over the last five years have been to East Shoal with access off of Highway 415. There are at least a couple of different ways to get on the lake but this has worked the best for me.




TECHNIQUES FOR TROPHY PERCH
In some bodies of water, spoons and minnow parts work best for perch and in other bodies of water, especially prairie lakes, real small jigs tipped with bloodworms, maggots and shrimp work best. This is a forage preference. Perch in our prairie lakes fatten up on scuds or freshwater shrimp.
On recent trips I have been targeting those fish eating shrimp. Most have been in water less than nine feet so the use of my small tungsten1/16 G-WHOPPER JIG from Bentley fishing has been a perfect fit. It’s molded in the shape of an ice cube and has a “Swarvoski” crystal on the top of its head. This crystal provides a unique flash as it drops weight forward to the bottom. The square shape also allows the jig to rest on the bottom with the hook up. Tipped with a small orange power maggot from Berkley it proved to be deadly in getting big fish to bite.

When fish are scattered, calling them in from a distance can be the key. For that reason I like to use the Lindy Rattl’N Flyer jig. It has a sideways glide action and when dropped will disturb sediment on the bottom. This cloud will attract perch who think other perch are feeding on the bottom. On the last trip I would jig aggressively with five or six drops then hold the jig just off the bottom about a foot. Once I marked a fish I would twitch the bait and lift it to see the reaction of the fish on the Humminbird Ice 55 Flasher. On this day there was no hesitation, that jumbo perch would come up and inhale the bait.