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Yumbo yellow perch in a yiffy/Woods, water & worse

June 10, 2011
By Jim Junttila , The Daily Mining Gazette

"Remember that great hit song 'Mellow Yellow' by Donovan way back in 1966?" asked WW&W music correspondent and downtown Dollar Bay bar owner Dolly Partanen. "It was about smoking dried banana peel, but it makes me think about our pretty yellow perch."

The late evening sun cast a mellow yellow glow on Sandy Bottom and fresh air laced with lilac wafted across the water as we cast for yumbo yellow perch, getting lucky in a yiffy.

Entering the way back machine, I vaguely recalled going to Michigan Tech during the 60s, when the slide rule was no match for measuring a yiffy, but Partanen's was pouring full measure long before then.

If you're new around here, yiffy is Finglish for jiffy. Ask any Finnish hockey player how long it takes to put the puck in the net and he'll tell you so.

"It's also how long it takes to catch a nice pile 'o perch when the bite is on," said local percher Jack Ham, who doesn't keep 'em unless they're 10 inches or bigger. He refuses to reveal his honey holes, but it's no secret the big lake perch migrate up and down the Keweenaw Waterway from North Entry to Hancock Beach, Lily Pond, off the mouths of Boston Crick, Swedetown Crick, and Oskar Bay along the Houghton side as well.

Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) are among the most over-looked, under-fished fish in the Keweenaw, right up there with carp, crappie, bluegill, bullhead and smallmouth bass.

You don't need a boat to catch these babies. They like cover close to shore and any old spinning outfit with a slip bobber makes a good perch pole. They are spirited fighters on light gear and hit on worms, a hunka crawler, small live or Gulp minnows, Road Runner Panfish, and Powerbait Atomic Teasers. A foot-long perch weighs about 1 1/2 pounds, world record is a 4-pound, 3-ounce porker.

Jack likes a Lindy Rig set-up and so do I, see Old Guide's Secret Perch Rig at lindyfishingtackle.com, then pick 'em up at Northwoods or Harter Mountain. He fishes a long 12-foot steelhead rod and spinning reel spooled with four-pound test Fireline rigged with a 3/4-ounce bell sinker and two-hook perch rig tipped with leaf worms. He chucks it out there in about 15 feeta water, then slowly bottom-ticks it back. Most bites come near the bottom, but aggressive, hungry perch will pound it on the way down. Watch out for that sharp spiny ray dorsal fin when you take 'em off the hook. If it stabs you, wipe the blood on your bait for good karma as you throw it back in.

The North Entry isn't selective about what it lets in from Lake Superior, so you never know what's gonna take your perch presentation. Ham recommends a long-handled net in case a big walleye, northern, brown, lake trout or salmon that doesn't know you're fishing for perch comes along and it's game on.

I know it's ironic, but even staunch Tea Party conservatives are in favor of our liberal limits on perch, 50 per day. And not just any perch, but chubby 9- to 14-inch yumbo yellow perch with nice meaty filets; Catch 20-30 in a couple hours and you can have friends over for a mighty fine all-you-can-eat fish fry. Poached perch kala mojakka ain't too shabby neither.

Jack Ham likes his perch rolled in egg batter, drenched in tangy Panko crumbs and grated parmesan cheese with a touch of thyme, then baked to a crispy crust.

I've also done it the easy way, where I boldly walk into backroads bars with an ice chest fulla fresh perch and offer to sponsor a fish fry if anybody wants to help me filet 'em. Knives come outa nowhere pretty quick when they take me up on it.

There's always something fishy going on in the Keweenaw, but it gets fishier than ever Saturday during Michigan Free Fishing Weekend with the 6th Annual Baraga County Lake Trout Festival & Keweenaw Classic Fishing Tournament in downtown L'Anse Vegas. Call Steve Koski, Indian Country Sports, 524.6518, laketroutfestival.com.

On Sunday, there's the festive 38th Annual Lake Linden-Hubbell Sportsmen's Association Rice Lake Fishing Derby with prizes galore, 7 a.m.-4 p.m., call Keith Machiela, 296-0365, llhsa.org.

Then, next weekend, June 18, they celebrate the Summer Solstice early with fun, frolic and fishing during the 18th Annual Labatt Blue Longest Day Tournament in Copper Harbor, Don Kauppi, 289-4637, copperharbor.org.

Life's too short to make choices; I'm doing all three, and entertaining interesting offers for dates to do them with me.

Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at jjunttila@chartermi.net.

 
 

 

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