In this day and age of instant entertainment at the push of a button on a home computer, video game, cell phone, or television, it is sometimes hard to get kids away from the electronics to go outside and experience what the outdoors has to offer. Living in a town next to one of the best fishing lakes in the world is an opportunity not to be missed.
Fishing is not usually at the top of their list of fun activities, due to the lack of patience that develops as we mature. While walleye fishing can be exciting at times, it demands more patience, since it is not always fast and furious action.
Perch fishing can be the perfect solution to a family outing on the water. It’s relatively inexpensive to get set up with the basic equipment of a 4 ½-5 foot ultra light rod, and an inexpensive reel to match it. Then all you need are some shiners, a couple of Zip-Loc bags, a cooler full of ice, and a counting device to keep track of how many fish you are catching.
Okay, I know you’re asking yourself, “Zip-Loc bags? What do I need those for?” The answer is “for the shiners”. There is an old belief that you need to keep your minnows alive in an aerated bucket, so that they are fresh on the hook. But that is only partly correct. The minnow is going to die as soon as you put it on the hook anyway, right? So, whether you use a live minnow or a dead minnow isn’t the issue. The issue is having minnows that look fresh. By looking fresh I mean they have all their shiny scales on them.
You see, as soon as a shiner dies, it starts losing its scales immediately, and then all you have left to put on your hook is this sad, pale, mushy piece of flesh that will be stolen off your hook by the perch without you even noticing it’s gone. That can get very frustrating and will certainly give your children less confidence in their ability to catch fish. Since their patience is at a minimum to begin with, you’ll want to use fresh looking minnows to produce the tell tale “thump-nibble-nibble” of a perch biting the bait; giving your kids a greater chance of hooking up with a fun fighting yellow perch, white perch, white bass, walleye, catfish, or sheepshead (all of these species can be caught while perch fishing).
I learned this Zip-Loc bag trick from some of the other long time captains on the lake, and it’s never let me down yet. Here’s how it works. Put the shiners in the bags without any water, and then put the bags in the cooler on top of the ice. This keeps the shiners very cold and will keep their scales on them for as long as they stay very cold. Their flesh stays firm, making it easy to put on the hooks, and much harder for the perch, or other fish, to steal it without giving you a chance to set the hook on them.
Give it a try. I think you’ll like it.
Good luck on the water this weekend, and be safe!