by Tim Moore
Lake Winnipesaukee is most well-known for its beauty, boating opportunities, and largemouth bass populations during the summer months, but during the winter a transformation takes place. When the lake freezes, white perch ice anglers sharpen their augers and ready themselves for some of the fastest fishing action that the lake has to offer. Winni, as it is affectionately called by those of us who frequently fish there, offers some of the best white perch fishing anywhere in North America. Anglers from all over the country have sought out these abnormally large fish due to their size and numbers. The lake regularly gives up white perch over two pounds, and 100 fish days are no tale.
The main forage in Lake Winnipesaukee is rainbow smelt. The high lipid content of smelt, plenty of space, and water quality allows the white perch to grow unusually large. When you add that to the fact that the perch travel in large schools that only get larger in number as the ice fishing season progresses, the result is often non-stop action. I have had days where there were so many perch, and they were so fired up, that we didn’t even need to bait our hooks anymore. They ate anything that moved.
Cloudy days are always going to be your best bet. On cloudy, rainy, or snowy days the fish will usually bite all day. On sunny bluebird days, focus on the hours around dawn and dusk. Be prepared to do a lot of moving around during the mid-day period because the fish will be less active. Lures such as the Clam Blade Spoon and Epoxy Drop tipped with a small piece of worm will get the job done. Focus on basins and steep breaks in 27’ to 40’ of water. Packing light and only bringing the necessities will make you more mobile and efficient when the need arises to make several moves to stay on a roaming school of fish. The trick to locating schools pf perch is mobility. The more water you cover, the better your chances of finding a school.
If you like non-stop action with fish that are stronger than most other fish of their size, then I highly recommend fishing for Winni’s Great White Perch. To me there is nothing more fun than catching three pound white perch as fast as I can reel them in. For most anglers it’s an experience not to be missed. For me, it’s what drives me to make the three hour round-trip drive five to seven days per week to catch them. Now that Winni is getting more ice, I suggest trying your hand at some white perch ice fishing, but due to inconsistent ice formation you should use caution.
Tim Moore is a professional fishing guide in New Hampshire. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC and guides ice fishing trips on Lake Winnipesaukee. He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association and the producer of Tim Moore Outdoors TV. Visit www.TimMooreOutdoors.com for more information.