Soft baits are hot items in the ice fishing scene. The latest generation of baits are highly realistic, scent-infused, and engineered for incredible underwater action. Plus, soft-baits don't require babysitting like livebait. Selection is plentiful, but here are three essential profiles to carry when chasing yellow perch on ice.
Tubes have a cult following among ice anglers given that these tentacle clad baits can replicate a diverse range of forage. A 1- to 1.5-inch brown or green version decoys a small crayfish, which jumbo perch adore, while a white tube is a stellar freshwater shrimp (AKA scud) imposture. Then there's the fact that tubes fall with a slow, injured-minnow spiral, that few onlooking perch can resist.
Thin With Teaser Tails
Baits featuring a thin profile combined with a wispy, tapered tail are another must-have bait for winter perch. The Berkley Gulp! Alive Fish Fry and Northland Fishing Tackle Bro's Bloodworm are two examples. The profile of these baits replicate bloodworms, a key menu item for perch under the ice. On some of the toughest bites I've experienced, laying a one-inch worm on bottom has proven deadly for convincing inactive perch to chew. These baits aren't one-trick ponies, though. Swimming and twitching them up and down in the water column is also effective.
Soft-baits that replicate baitfish are other essential perch-hunting weapons. Minnow baits featuring a forked and or a dolphin tail work well for winter jigging. Emerald shiner, smelt and pearl are good color choices, but don't be surprised if fire tiger and natural perch patterns prove the most reliable. The reason? Big perch are cannibalistic and regularly feed on juveniles of their species.
Carry a selection of jig heads spanning 1/32- to 3/16-ounces for rigging 1, 1.5- and 2-inch baits. Experiment with different jigging sequences throughout the water column and you can bet that you'll ice plenty of perch on any of these three reliable soft-baits.