Family, Friends & Fun

Lake Simcoe and Perch Fishing

Kempenfelt Bay becoming new autumn hotspot

By Wil Wegman This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For Barrie Fall Fishing Festival Guide

Yellow perch are the most popular and abundant sportfish found in Lake Simcoe. Although northern pike, lake trout, whitefish and bass may all grow larger and fight harder, perch attract more anglers to our lake than any other species. Fortunately these special waters have been able to sustain the fishing pressure and they still support one of the finest recreational perch fisheries in all of North America.

K Bay ... New Simcoe Fall Hot Spot:
For some, the secret has been out for a few years already but many first time visitors are amazed that Lake Simcoe's largest, deepest bay, adjacent to the lake's most densely populated City, provides such outstanding yellow perch action. "That we have so many nice perch within a cast out from the City of Barrie ... is pretty amazing", said Don Jerry, one of the key Rotary Club organizers who brought the Perch Festival to his city in 2011 year. "Last fall one youngster caught a $1,000 tagged perch right from shore. Many of our tagged perch are not even jumbo's and they can be caught by anyone who enters," said Jerry.

Participants fish in everything from 1/4 million dollar boats to kayaks, but most are just average sized aluminum fishing boats. The Festival attracts anglers from all walks of life too, from keen hard core anglers to grandmothers in wheelchairs to kids looking for something more fulfilling than their video games. "It was truly a heart warming experience for the organizers," concluded Jerry.

Boat anglers also like to participate and fish from Barrie in K Bay, not just because of the great perch action, but because prevailing northwest winds keep the bay relatively calm and safe for boat travel most of the time.

Often knowing where to find perch in K Bay can be as simple as locating congregations of boats or where others are fishing from shore. Chances are they have already found a few schools of perch and as long as you mind your manners and don't move too close, you'll be more than welcome to join in the fun.

If you'd rather find perch on your own and you're fishing from a boat, a good sonar like one of the Lowrance HDS units can help you detect not only perch but the tiny minnows they are chasing as well. This is even more true in the early fall when perch are deeper and you need to rely on these units to be your underwater eyes.

How To Catch Them:
Begin by identified prime fall perch habitat. In K Bay, that's often weed edges and shoreline breaks. I like to search for perch instead of waiting for them to find me ... so I keep moving and casting, moving and casting. I love using the new 2 ½ inch Rapala X Rap on the new Suffix 4 lb Castable Invisiline with a 6'9" Medium- Light action R Type rod which will allow a long cast ahead so as to not spook a weary school of perch. With the super clear waters of K Bay- keeping your distance from fish, especially in shallow water, is uber- important.

It's a real confidence booster to realize that within a school of perch there is almost always at least a couple of aggressive hungry members so I keep on working my minnow imitating bait quickly to cover water. When even one or two nice jumbos attack the suspending jerkbait they have given away the location of the entire school ... which undoubtedly makes them very unpopular members of the pack! This is when it does pay to slow down, throw a marker buoy and cast small jigs like Storm's 1 ½ inch Wildeye Pro Paddle Tails or their Pro Curl Tail series directly to where those aggressive perch hit.

Believe it or not, when conditions are tough and you're not finding any perch by casting, one of the most effective techniques when you're in water 15-20 feet, is by long line trolling that X Rap or even a 2 ¾ inch original floating Rapala. Just like when you find them casting, stop and throw a marker buoy back to where you connected with a legendary Simcoe jumbo. Then you can begin casting to them with your favorite jig and grub combo, or borrow a set-up favored by Simcoe bass anglers; the drop shot rig.

The drop shot rig is ideal for shore anglers too. You can adjust the distance between your weight and bait but generally this will vary between 8-15 inches. I prefer a variety of imitating minnow baits like Trigger X micro shiners instead of the real thing, but that's just me. Kids and bobber fishing go together like bees and honey so if you're taking out our next generation of anglers you may wish to consider a simple live minnow and slip float rig. These are great for shore a-fish-anados as well. You can fine-tune a float rig to present your bait just off bottom – where the perch are most apt to be. Worms will work too and both can be bought locally not far from the K Bay shores.

Maximum limits for perch in Lake's Simcoe and Couchiching are very generous. Those with a Sport Fishing Licence can keep up to 50 daily and have 100 in their possession. If you buy a Conservation licence then the limits are 25 daily 50 total possession.

Most people realize however that you don't need to judge your success based on an ability to bring home a limit. Keeping a few of the nicest 8-11 inchers for a meal or two and releasing the rest, will be your personal contribution to sustaining the high quality fishery we have. Perhaps just as important though is that releasing those extra large perch over a foot also sets a great example for our future generation of anglers so that they too will play their role in years to come.

Of course when fishing the fun and exhilarating Barrie Fall Fishing Festival you never know if your next cast will produce that specially tagged fish worth a cool $10,000! Now that is one yellow perch you will not want to take home for dinner in this catch and release event. To be eligible for this and all the other many prizes however, be sure to purchase an entry ticket before your boat hits the water of K Bay between Sept 21st and Sept 30th.

The 2nd Annual 2012 Barrie Fall Fishing Festival is shaping up to be a huge success, so don't miss it. Complete details, rules and entry form are available at

Wil Wegman is an award winning outdoor writer whose articles have been published in most Canadian and several US outdoor and fishing magazines. Although Wil is the is former editor of BassMan magazine he loves fishing for yellow perch and for the last 27 years his favorite perch lake has been Simcoe. "There just isn't any other lake around that can produce the quantity and quality of yellow perch that our lake has," he said.

Monday, February 02, 2015