Do Perch Bite at Night? Tips for After Dark Success

Updated on:

Do Perch Bite at Night? Tips for After Dark Success

Updated on:

It’s no secret that fishing for perch during the day can be a fun and rewarding experience for anglers of all ages, but did you know perch bite at night as well?

These fish are extremely active throughout the night, unlike many other species commonly targeted, which makes them a great option for fishing and getting a bite at night.

Perch are also an outstanding fish to focus on when ice fishing in both the day and night hours. They are extremely sought after for a variety of reasons including their looks, their size, and their delicious flavor.

About Yellow Perch

Distribution

Yellow perch are found in a wide range of areas in North America. They can be found in the northern range of the Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Arctic regions, as well as south to the Carolinas.

Moving more inland, these perch are common throughout Ohio, but can also be found in Nebraska. In Canada, they are extremely common in both Quebec and Nova Scotia which makes them a very popular Canadian sport fish as well for ice fishing in the winter months.

Habitat

While most fish enjoy and thrive in comfortably warm water, most perch love water that is much colder than usual. This makes them a common find in mountain lakes and reservoirs, glacial pools, and large lakes with minimal weed cover. 

When trying to find a reasonable habitat for perch at night, look for a lake or reservoir that has a sandy bottom more than a large rock bottom. Smaller gravel is acceptable for fishing, but larger boulders and stones are not as appealing to perch to hide in.

Vegetation should be minimal throughout the lake as perch are more prone to schooling in open water areas, though can be fished in some weeded areas. While they will sometimes take cover in weed beds during spawning, they are usually happy in water with little to no obstructions.

Habits

Most perch will readily school in large numbers throughout their cooler water. As the water gets warmer, perch will move closer to shore in order to feed on small fish, shrimp, and crustaceans which gives you a great idea on where to drop your bait when fishing. 

It’s not uncommon to see schools of perch darting in and out of heavy vegetation and thick weed beds. They do this when hunting and attacking their prey. Yellow perch are opportunistic feeders and will usually catch a wide range of food including baitfish, insect larvae, snails, shrimp, small crayfish, and more.

Eating Quality

Once caught, these perch like other panfish species can be an excellent species to enjoy for a meal. They are easy to prepare and can be cooked in a wide range of ways. If you love your meals grilled or pan fried, perch is an outstanding option for that.

Additionally, the distinct and mild flavoring of a yellow perch you caught yourself can be enjoyed without the need of heavy seasoning. This species is versatile enough to be baked or sauteed, as well as deep fried.

It’s recommended to prepare the fish with the skin-on, though chowder and poached recipes may opt for choice cuts. However you prefer to prepare the fish you caught, this species can be treated no differently.

Yellow Perch Night Fishing

Perch enjoy the lower light as they have improved night vision which helps them find prey to bite.

Like many other species that take a variety of bait types when fishing, perch will bite and can be caught in the early morning hours as well as the late afternoon. Unlike other fish, however, perch can also be caught and will actively bite well into the night if you choose to do some night fishing with different baits.

Perch enjoy the lower light as they have improved night vision which helps them find prey to bite. Because of this, most of their feeding is done in the late evening or throughout the night.

This is also a great time for anglers to head out onto the water in a boat with a fish finder and some fishing lights in order to enjoy some nighttime perch fishing. You’ll be able to use a wide range of fishing gear, so bring whatever you are most comfortable with.

Best Methods to Catch Perch in Dark

There are three excellent methods many anglers use to catch perch. The first is known as the bobber rig. This is commonly used for crappie fishing, but works exceptionally well for night perch.

It makes use of a 2 inch soft plastic minnow (click here to buy one) attached to a fishing float about 3 feet away. The minnow is attached to a marabou jig and the bait is cast into the deeper water and allowed to rest in the water.

The second option is with the use of a soft plastic crayfish (get one here). These are most commonly placed on a Texas rig and allowed to sink down towards the bottom of the lake. You want the cray lure to move slowly through the muck and sand at the bottom of the lake in order to mimic a crustacean looking for food.

The third option is with a live minnow. This is one of the best methods for night fishing since the minnow will not only create vibrations in the water, but will give off natural smells as well. If using a live minnow, the use of a fixed small bobber is recommended to keep it at a certain depth near the surface of the water. Perch can’t resist an injured minnow as an easy meal.

How to Predict the Best Nights to Fish

There are countless factors that come into play when it comes to the “best” night to fish. There are different lunar phases and weather fronts to keep an eye on. In general, most night perch anglers focusing on catching perch love fishing when the moon is almost full or completely full.

This large moon provides good light for both the avid angler and the perch which helps bring them a bit closer to the surface to feed. If the sky is overcast or rainy, perch will very likely not be as active and will instead be resting deep in the water. In this case, it may be better to try again another night.

Where to Target After Dark

As the sunset takes hold and the day turns to night, this species will start moving through the water in search of shallower water less than 20 feet deep. This opens up a range of opportunities for the perch to find prey in and among vegetation, logs, and rock piles.

Perch actively hunt smaller fish, but they are also hunted by larger predators such as pike or largemouth bass. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find these panfish hiding in and around thick vegetation and weeds as they feed and try not to be fed upon.

Best Season to Night Fish Perch

When it comes to the best season, most anglers swear by fishing in the months that make up the later spring and early summer. The water is still cool in the spring but the shallow areas of the lake are warming up with the summer temps which makes small minnows and other baitfish more active. Since these animals are feeding on these smaller minnows they catch at night in the spring and summer, they will also become more active.

This species is also an excellent one to look for throughout the winter. If you love ice fishing, or simply want to give it a try, your first catch may very likely be a yellow perch. These panfish are relatively active in cold water and will eagerly take bait that is dropped down into their faces regardless of the water temperature.

Perch Fishing at Night (Best Baits, Lures And Methods)

If you prefer to only fish with live bait, use those that are easily seen in dark water for the best fishing results.

When fishing at night, one of the most important things to consider is to use bright-colored artificial baits and lures. While you might hate seeing that bright pink-colored lure in your tackle box, it may very well turn out to be the most successful lure in your nighttime perch fishing arsenal. 

Don’t ever feel like you need to invest in the high-end lures either. Yellow perch are not as ravenous as largemouth bass, but they are very active feeders and will happily strike at even a cheap single-tailed lure. This makes perch an excellent fish for beginners to get started on without feeling like they need to invest a lot of money into the hobby.

If you prefer to only fish with live bait, use those that are easily seen in dark water for the best fishing results. This can include white maggots, wax worms, and peeled shrimp. All of these options are easily seen by the perch at night, and can be found in a wide range of sizes to work on most hooks you use with these fish.

When using shrimp or prawns as bait, their naturally strong smell can also work as a very pungent attractant to lure in perch from reasonable distances. This smell also makes perch more willing to bite at night and hold onto the bait instead of spitting it out quickly.

Final Thoughts on Night Time Yellow Perch Fishing

These perch are a very active species throughout the night which makes them a great fish to focus on if you want to fish when the skies are dark.

Perch are striking to look at, and can be great to toss on the grill as well. In fact, their flesh is so versatile it can be prepared in a wide range of ways and still deliver a mild yet enjoyable flavor.

For new and experienced ice fishermen, perch are a great species to focus on during the day and night hours. It’s not uncommon for the very first fish an ice fisherman lands to be a yellow perch.

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AUTHOR
Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village.