Yellow perch action is heating up on Lake Michigan as Indiana’s Free Fishing
Weekend, June 5-6, approaches.
“Anglers fishing for yellow perch from the pier out of Michigan City are
beginning to pick up some real jumbos fishing from shore,” Brian Breidert,
DNR Lake Michigan fisheries biologist, said in a statement released this
week. “As summer approaches, more shore fishing will occur, resulting in
improved angler success.”
During Free Fishing Weekend, Hoosier adults do not need a license or a
trout/salmon stamp to fish Indiana waters, including the Indiana portion of
Lake Michigan. Children age 17 and younger do not need a fishing license at
any time. Although Indiana residents need no fishing license to fish public
waters on Free Fishing Weekend, all other fishing regulations are still in
Breidert said that boat anglers fishing for yellow perch on Lake Michigan
waters will also find success, noting that as the lake warms throughout the
summer, anglers’ catch will increase.
During recent spring gillnet surveys conducted by the DNR, yellow perch
weighing up to 1.75 pounds and measuring up to 15 inches were captured in
60-feet-deep water off of Michigan City. Each spring, spawning females move
into the shallows during May and early June to spawn as water temperatures
Based on 2009 angler creel surveys, nearly 400,000 perch were caught in
Indiana waters of the lake last year. Of those, 214,000 were kept and taken
home to be eaten. Fish ranged in size from 4.5 to 15 inches, with the
average size hovering around 10 inches and weighing a half-pound each.
“Perch fishing will likely remain average to above-average as a result of
the dramatic surge in yellow perch reproduction in 2005,” Breidert said.
“Unfortunately, one year class cannot sustain a fishery and we hope to see
strong year classes in the future.”
“The ecology of the lake has changed over the years with all the exotic
species. They all compete for the available food resources and each new
exotic species has an impact on our native fish populations.”
Anglers fishing for yellow perch spent nearly 147,000 hours pursuing the
tasty fish. The catch and harvest were both the highest of the previous
10-year period. The month of June is the beginning of the harvest, with July
and August being the highest months for catching yellow perch.
The harvest rate
of nearly 1.5 fish per hour and a catch rate of nearly 2.7 fish per hour are
among the highest for the decade. The strong 2003 and 2005 year classes will
continue to provide family-friendly fishing opportunities, both from shore
and boat. Each angler may keep up to 15 fish on a daily basis.