Winter Perch Bonanza, Fish Delavan Lake

Destination: Delavan Lake

Winter Perch Bonanza

Delavan Lake is one of the finest ice fishing destinations in Southeastern, Wisconsin.   The lake is an hour from Milwaukee and one and a half hours from Chicago.  Delavan Lake is roughly 2200 acres with a maximum depth of 52 feet.  The lake has many different fishing opportunities, whether it’s deep-water yellow perch or weedline walleyes.  The shallow bays make available a lot of Northern Pike and bluegill action. During the midwinter period the most consistent bite is the yellow perch.

My most sought after query in mid-winter is the yellow perch and deep-water perch fishing is the most constant pattern.    I define deep water as water greater than 20 feet and on Delavan lake the best depths are 35-45 feet.   The biggest challenge of ice fishing perch is locating them.   A good pair of boots a light-weight auger such as the K-drill and a Vexilar flasher is a necessity.  Perch can be found in anywhere from small “pods” to massive schools and finding an active school can provide all day action.  It is often better to bring a friend along both for safety and eliminating unproductive water.    Once you get to a desired area it is best to drill a bunch of holes and start searching.  Perch are often found sitting tight to the bottom or suspended just up from the bottom as Delavan perch are usually feeding on small blood worms on the bottom, so starting there is crucial.

Make sure to fish every hole a sufficient amount of time as many times the perch will not show up on the Vexilar until a bait is presented to call them in.  Good search baits to try when you are first on scene are the Lindy Rattlin’ Flyer or Perch Talker tipped with 1-3 spikes/waxies or larvae style plastic baits.  The lure can be fished quickly at first to help locate roaming schools.  These spoon style lures put out plenty of flash and good vibration.

Spoons are good for actively feeding perch, however many times perch are neutral or in a negative feeding pattern.  If you find that to be the case, a tear-drop jig or Lindy’s Toad jig are great choices.  When fishing these deep-water applications your color choice is important, always start with fluorescent colors, which add visibility to the bait. I always use “glow” colors in morning and evening as they always seem to get the most bites in lower light. Be sure to “Charge” your glow jigs every 10 min or so to make them most effective.

In these deeper water situations tungsten jigs are preferred to get you back down to the bottom quickly.  Getting it back down quickly prevents the fish from roaming away before you catch as many as possible.   In most situations you should try putting another pole down with a slip bobber and the bait set about 1 ft off the bottom.  This extra bait in the area will keep the fish nearby and almost always results in more fish caught.

Fishing in such deep water you will need a medium action rod/ reel combo with a maximum of 4lb test.  The lighter line helps the bait get down quicker while the medium actions help you get a good hookset. (too light of a rod will often result in lost fish in this situation) Consider adding a spring bobber when perch fishing this deep as bites can be hard to detect.

Always try to have multiple poles rigged so you can change baits quickly without having to re-tie or in the event of a broken line or tangle.  A change of bait type can also entice “non-biters” and get the school active again.

Delavan Lake has an ample supply of perch if you’re willing to search for them.  The main lake basin is the best spot to start the hunt.   Good areas are the Southwest part of the lake, by Belvidere Park and off of Willow Point.  I have had great success fishing the pressure crack which forms from the Yacht Club to the Village Supper Club point.  This spot can be dangerous, so be careful. With that said, Delavan is a great destination for a mid-winter yellow perch adventure.

Dave Duwe
Wisconsin Fishing Guide

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