Rockin’ And Rollin’ in Northern Ontario

By: Gord Pyzer

What a perfect way to welcome in the New Year. The ice and snow conditions are absolutely perfect across almost all of Northern Ontario and the fish – especially the big, plump, jumbo yellow perch – are biting like crazy.



While well known waters like Lake Nipissing, Lake Nosbonsing, Lac des Mille Lacs, Eagle Lake, Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods offer fabulous fishing for the tasty popular pan-fish, don’t overlook the phenomenal opportunities found in the North Channel inlets of Georgian Bay, between Sault Ste. Marie and Killarney, the numerous lakes around Wawa and White River, and the multitude of frozen bays and coves along the north shore of Lake Superior between Terrace Bay and Thunder Bay.


These waters offer winter perch fishing that is beyond your wildest imagination.



But there is a secret to catching the big jumbo orange, yellow and black striped fish in the winter. Actually, a trio of hush-hush sleights of hand that will put two or three times as many fish on the ice for you this winter and have your buddies shaking their heads in disbelief.


The first is using a single action fly-type reel.


A single action ice fishing reel teamed up with a Russian style beaded hook may just be the deadliest combination for catching jumbo yellow perch throughout Northern Ontario.


Indeed, the originators of this technique started the revolution by removing the fly reels from their summer rods and putting them on their ice fishing sticks. These days, however, the folks at Clam, HT Enterprises and Rapala make single action ice fishing reels with large arbours and elevated reel seats specifically for the purpose. And it is all designed to counteract the negative effects of your lure spinning as a result of line twist.


Indeed, the next time you go ice fishing for perch (or any other species for that matter) with a spinning reel, drop your lure into your hole and watch what it does.


It spins around in tight circles, right?


Even if you hold your rod perfectly still, the lure still spins like a top. And when you lower it all the way down to the bottom, the spinning intensifies even more with all the line you’ve let out.


Now, put the lure on a rod with one of the single-action-fly-type ice fishing reels, drop it back into the hole and watch it again. The spinning has stopped, because the reels prevent line twist, and the perch will rush in and devour your bait.


Ah, your bait – that is where the second piece of trickery enters the picture.


Don’t ask me why, but a small spoon-type lure with a colorful glass or plastic bead on the hook is possibly the deadliest yellow perch rig ever invented. Some folks call them Russian hooks, a throw back to the days when Russian immigrants bewildered and stunned local ice anglers with their piles of perch, using simple lures they’d brought with them from the mother country.



These days, ice anglers often call them “beaded jigs” or “hard heads”, but no matter what you call them, they are the undisputed heavyweight perch champions of the ice fishing world.


My two favorite beaded jigs are the Freedom Lures Minnows and Tricky Ricky lures made by Koda Pro products as the things are deadly when you drop them down a hole in the ice. And while many people tip the tiny hooks with a wax worm, maggot or Trigger X Wax Tail, Spike or Larvae I fish them plain-Jane at least 50-percent of the time.


And that is where the final sleight of hand comes in.


What you want to do, is adjust your sonar so you can watch your lure on the screen at all times. Now, drop your Freedom Minnow, Tricky Ricky or similar beaded jig into the hole and let it flutter down. When it is a foot or so off the bottom, flip your bail and let the lure pause for at least five to ten seconds. If you don’t see a perch rush it, pop up the lure briskly using your wrist, much like you would do it you were jigging for lake trout – and then let the lure flutter back to the bottom under controlled slack. Pause for a few second, and then pop the lure up once again.


Pretty soon you’re going to spot a perch or two rush in to inspect your colorful fluttering beaded jig. And when that happens, ever so slowly raise your rod tip while you constantly and subtly shake the rod using your wrist, as though you were tapping a desk with the eraser on the end of a pencil.


The perch can’t stand it – especially the biggest, baddest, huskiest, jumbo perch in the pack. But be forewarned. The fish tend to suck in the ever so slightly rising, rocking and rolling beaded jig as they swim up with it, so the sensation you often feel is one of losing touch with the lure, rather than a sharp tug.


When that happens, set the hook, and I am betting your rod is going to double over and you’re going to add another huge gorgeous Northern Ontario perch to an already impressive pile of fine eating fish.


No wonder 12-year old Liam Whetter is smiling – those are 14-inch jumbo perch he caught while fishing in Northwestern Ontario’s Sunset Country. Use the technique described in the blog and you can put yourself into the picture.


For more information on fishing in Ontario visit


To begin planning your next Canadian excursion, visit our Adventure Match to find the perfect lodge to suit your personal fishing or hunting preferences.


Author bio: Gord Pyzer is well-known in Canadian fishing circles as Doctor Pyzer because of his work for Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources. He’s now one of Canada’s top fishing communicators and a member of the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame. Gord is a two time winner of Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Presidents Cup and is an internationally sought speaker, tournament angler and co-hosts the Real Fishing Radio Show with Bob Izumi.

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