Wait until next year. That has been my thought on perch all summer.
Then, reports became increasingly better last week. For the first time in months, guys were talking about steady action with enough large ones caught to make a trip worthwhile.
I took the bait. I bought minnows for the first time all season and went fishing aboard a friend's boat on Sunday.
Thoughts remain, wait until next year.
Oh, we caught perch, dozens of them. The downside, at least for now, is the majority of them were five to seven inches.
We did have 10, barely-keepable eight-inchers in the live well after three hours of fishing, but they were released, concurring hardly a meal they would make.
There is, for the first time in many years, optimism about Lake Michigan perch. A stunning, once-in-many-decades hatch occurred in 2015. At the time, biologists estimated the one to two-inch babies would grow to harvestable-size in about four years.
Those perch appear to be on the right track for a good season, depending on the weather, in 2019. A fair portion of them should be in the eight-inch range by this time next season and, just as exciting, for several years beyond 2019.
Those perch we caught on Sunday were mostly in the 20 to 30-foot depths off the Washington Park lot and the Long Beach water tower. Good action was also had to the west from Mt. Baldy to Central Avenue, mostly in the 20-foot range.
One other note on perch, the best catching around here in recent years has been in September -- and October -- if weather allows. Biologist Ben Dickinson shared a chart on Facebook which shows: "from 2013-2017, September catch rate was 84 percent higher than July, with only 20 percent of the fishing effort."
Cooler temperatures and north winds may kill perch action for the weekend, but should boost chinook activity for shore anglers.
Enough big kings, up to 22 pounds, continue to be caught in the harbor and pier to make it a worthwhile effort. Favorite spoons for chinook anglers are glow/green and glow/blue K.O. Wobblers and Little Cleos, especially after dark.
Plugs like magnum Wiggle Warts, Flicker Shads and Mag Lips have their fans, too. Glow finishes are best at night with firetiger and metallic patterns favored during the day.
Best of all may be a gob of spawn suspended beneath a bobber.
Both Trail Creek and Salt Creek have been yielding coho and steelhead along with an occasional chinook. Spawn sacks or shrimp drifted with a bobber set to deliver the bait a few inches above bottom has taken a lot of fish. Spinners are drawing strikes, too.
Inland, I caught a good bunch of bluegill and crappie in La Porte on Wednesday. Cooler temperatures should keep the bite going, once the fronts pass through the area.
I see the DNR's new launch ramp at Clear Lake in Westville is open. Many accounts say it was an excellent bluegill lake with exceptional numbers of large and clean panfish. I wish they would have been able to survey and slap some restrictive catch limits on the small lake before going public. With the kind of fishing pressure showing up already, the fishery seems doomed to becoming a marginal producer like most public waters.
Anyway, there is a tidy, new launch ramp open while construction of handicap access is being completed. There is a 10 miles per hour restriction on the lake.
Sept. 29-30 is Youth Deer Hunting weekend in Indiana. For more information, see www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild.
Curious how the new Deer Reducation Zone Corridors are designed? Indiana's deer biologist, Dr. Joe Caudell, explains it via YouTube. Check out the video at https://youtu.be/qPBbrVEnPE4.