Perch on the Ponds

By on April 20, 2017

If you work fast, you can get in on a hot perch bite in the ponds in Greece right now. Long and Cranberry Ponds on Edgemere Drive are stacked with spawning perch. Jumbo perch up to 13 inches are being caught. This perch bite has been good for a few weeks now, but you must act quick before the water warms and their spawning is completed, triggering them to migrate back out into Lake Ontario to spend the summer. Smaller males are now being caught which usually indicates the spawn is coming to an end.

Jim Miller, veteran perch fisherman with a nice mess of perch, too big for poor man’s shrimp.

Jim Miller, veteran perch fisherman with a nice mess of perch, too big for poor man’s shrimp.

Perch started hitting in the two ponds in early March. That late snow storm cooled the water and slowed the bite down for a while but things picked up again last week. These fish make their way into the ponds from Lake Ontario through the channel at the northeast end of Long Pond. They arrive in the fall, hang out watching football through the winter and then spawn at first ice out in March. There is a roughly three-week window in the spring when you can catch these spawning fish in big numbers.

Fishermen can park on Edgemere Drive to fish Long Pond but cannot park on Edgemere Drive on Cranberry. Why the two ponds only a half mile apart have different rules, I have no clue.

There is a small parking lot on the west end of Cranberry Pond that holds only about a dozen cars and, unfortunately, is the only easy access point for that pond. It would be a great use of our fishing license funds from the state to build a larger parking lot there and then maybe excavating out a parking lot for fishermen right off the Parkway on the south end of Long Pond as well. This would give fishermen much better access to the south end of the pond without walking a half mile or more from Long Pond Road or Lowden Point Road.

Due to the cold water temperatures in the spring, perch can be finnicky on the baits they will hit. Many of the serious perch fishermen I know use a weighted bobber four feet above a one sixteenth ounce pink or chartreuse jig tipped with spikes or minnows. Others like small chunks of nightcrawlers on a small number six gold hook tied directly to six pound line fished with the classic sinker on the bottom and the hook a foot up the line. Avoid heavy pound test line and snelled hooks this time of year.

Veteran perch fisherman Jim Miller, owner of Five Guys collision shop in Greece, hammered the perch on Cranberry Pond the Sunday before Easter. Jim takes it one step further and uses two gold number six hooks about a foot apart with a one quarter ounce sinker on the bottom. This way he will on occasion catch two fish at a time. Miller has a reputation for keeping even the smallest perch … we’re talking one stripers. He then makes poor man’s shrimp out of these tiny fillets.

Here’s his simple recipe: he gets a sauce pan of boiling water and adds two tablespoons of salt. Miller then drops the small fillets into the boiling water until they float to the top. He then scoops them out and places them immediately in a bowl of ice water. The fillet will curl up like a shrimp. He serves these tasty morsels with some good cocktail sauce and then will fight his own family for the last fillet. You’ve likely seen how Jimmy Houston, the TV fishing personality, kisses his fish before he releases them; Jimmy Miller kisses his fillets before he puts them on his plate.

Jim uses an electric fillet knife to clean all of his fish, from the tiny perch to the largest of northern pike and everything in-between. The man is a surgeon with that electric knife and you will never find a bone in one of his fillets. He pontificates that it takes a little getting used to and you will lose a little meat, but when it comes to a fast cleaning with much less mess, it is the only way to fly. This Perch Punisher says YouTube has a few good videos that explain his technique.

New York State has implemented a 50-perch limit, so, if you are really catching a ton, you must keep a count or you could get ticketed. This law was applied by the D.E.C. because some fishermen were catching hundreds of these fish and selling them. The rule seems to have made a difference and perch numbers appear to be coming back. The fact that these perch are making a comeback in these local ponds is a good sign that the water here is clearing up as well, because perch will not tolerate pollution.

So, if you want some fun the whole family can enjoy while they soak up the sounds and smells of spring, you’d better get down to either of these ponds STAT before these tasty fish swim back to the big lake for the summer.

A final note on fishing these ponds: the shoreline of both of these ponds is outrageously loaded with garbage left by fishermen, most of it plastic, styrofoam and, even worse, discarded fishing line. This trash will eventually blow into the ponds and live forever on the bottom of these great fisheries. There is no excuse … do the right thing and pick up all your garbage. You brought it in, take it out!

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