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Dave G.

Some good patterns for Big Pickerel

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We have a big pond locally ( really a lake) and the ice is just about out. Through March and into April big pickerel are in the shallow coves and or on the shallow side of drops I assume for spawning, feeding , a touch warmer water etc. I've caught these on small spoons in perch patterns by accident when trout fishing from the boat but often they manage to toss those if they break water. Also Rapalas in white with a touch of orange and also an Olive one casting towards shore. These are maybe 3-3-1/2" lures, again it's happened trout fishing ( we have good sized browns in there too that tend to be meat eaters this time of year, the first time I saw one of these big pickerel go air borne I thought I had a huge brown). Never caught one of these pickerel on a fly and I've been around a long time fishing black Nosed dace and woolly buggers for trout, not targeting pickerel but one might think they would have taken one in all these years.. Would like some suggestions for flies if to target the pickerel, these fish run up around probably 6-7 or 8 lb in some cases. Reminds me very much of pike fishing you see in the videos. But there isn't a whole lot of info on the flies for them or I haven't found it yet. Pike flies yes, plenty on those, I'm thinking of tying up some of those a bit smaller.

 

Suggestions please ! Maybe 5" or 6" yellow perch flies ?

 

Oh and I'll be casting with an 8 wt.

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Some of my favorite walleye flys are just slightly tweaked trout streamers. Clousers are on the top of my list. Darting along the bottom they have the same action as jigs. I like them 3-4" long; favorite colors and white/chartreuse, white yellow, white orange, solid white, solid black. Again, similar to conventional jigs. Other streamers such as deceivers, wolly buggers, and bunny leaches also work very well. Like you said, tye a fly that resembles a yellow perch and you will be on the right track.

Good luck!!

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Chain pickerel aren't that fussy. In the South Jersey ponds I get to fish and the lakes up in the Poconos. They seem to like white. Unless you've got big pickerel in 20 plus inch range you don't really need huge flies. I caught this one on a white top water

post-309-0-93713800-1455935966_thumb.jpg

post-309-0-37720000-1455935930_thumb.jpg

and another the same size on this one

post-309-0-68579300-1455936373_thumb.jpg

 

Both flies are 2 inches or less.

 

I'd stick with flies 2-4 inches length.

White, fire tiger, perch(if that's the dominate bait fish.

 

They're more fun on a 6 wgt.

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These are big toothy Chain Pickerel , they are big resident breaders I assume and that you don't see all year round. The photo Philly posted would be small compared to these that are around in the spring. These are more like up to 30" ( say 24-28" and 6-7 even 8 lb), you can't get your hands around them like Philly has in his photo, you gill them or use a wide rubber lined net.. The depth of the fish girth is at least as deep as my hand span, you craddle the fish in two hands if you want to handle it. However as I mentioned in my first post they have taken a small perch colored spoon ( Thomas spoon 1/6oz in perch colors), every year we get a couple of those while trolling for trout.

 

Yellow perch and white perch are prevalent in the area we catch these in. Also you can catch a good sized rainbow trout over there that has slash marks from teeth in it's back. And it's for that reason I'm thinking these things will hit bigger bait.

 

A lot of people think there are pike in this pond because of these spring pickerel, they aren't pike they have the chain markings on them. The early bass fishermen tend to catch a few too. This is one of the tournament ponds, the guys with bass boats are eager to do some early spring fishing there.

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Those are some impressive chain pickerel, Dave. We do have them that size in the lakes around here but they're not a common catch. The one I'm holding, based on my body width is around 20 inches which is a decent size for this area though it is pretty skinny. What you're talking about are comparable to most of the pike I catch. The pike in the picture was 24 inches. Definitely a larger fly is in order. I don't know of any but a streamer or bait fish pattern in chain pickerel colors in the 6 to 8 inch range should work. Any large shad/peanut bunker pattern would work for the white perch. For the yellow perch, a nice fire tiger pattern.

The only place I've really heard walleye called pickerel is in Ontario. It's part of the confusion local names for fish can cause. For example if you say you like to fish for "specks" depending where you are it can be three different fish.

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Well, Philly, today I tied up a bait fish in Syn -Yak and Ice-abou. The main body in Yak is tied in in reverse and layered back over itself like with a Bunker Pattern and it's bone white on a short shanked Gamakatsu #1 hook . Over the back is the dark olive iceabou, it's tied in in reverse as well but only strung back over the back of the fly. I put on an orange throat and an orange tag on the hook of craft fur, it bulked up nicely in circumference but will be rather hollow and whispy looking in the water. And is right on 6" long.. The orange tag can be seen inside the fly. It's going to be kind of holographic, hope pickerel don't mind., Well I can alter the next tie, it's a bit late for this one.

 

There may be more big pickerel around than we realize, seems the big guys like these big patterns and I've never fished anything this big for them before. So we shall see as spring comes along.

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Sounds like a good pattern. Like to see a picture of it. I think most of the big pickerel in the lakes around here are caught through the ice. Like pike and muskie they spawn this time of year or the local equivalent . For example, the lake I go to in Ontario if you want to catch big pike you go the first week or two after the lodge is open, which is mid-May. I've only gone up there twice at that time. The second time the ice had just gone off the lake. They pike have just finished spawning but their prey, walleye, yellow perch, suckers and whitefish are just starting to spawn at that time. What's probably happening on the lakes around you are the white and yellow perch, along with any suckers in the lake are spawning and the big pickerel are hanging around looking in the shallows for an easy meal. As the water warms they'll move into deeper water and leave the shallows to their smaller brethren. Since my friends and I don't start fishing the lakes until early May we don't usually see pickerel in that size range. We know they're there just don't catch them.

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Yes, I've never specifically targeted these things but have caught them by accident over the years. Spawn time should be right now, so happens this years ice is going out as well. Who knows if it will stay out, I saw this happen once before and then everything just skimmed over again making it no good for any kind of fishing till the second week in April. But I've also seen open winters here.

 

Photos: Ya know I posted a photo here once in the classic fly forum, was easy to link in from my Smugmug account. Either Smugmug or this site changed something ( or both) because I've had no luck linking for a direct post ( embed photo) or insert from my own computer since then. In one instance it just doesn't happen and I get a link instead of a photo embedded and in the other I get a photo too large message even though I chop it all down to the point it isn't worth viewing if it did show up.. It's why there is no photo in my avatar in fact. I've seen some other people complain about this as well. Not sure what is going on but I had 0 trouble with the one photo last summer.

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I have two of these pond/lakes within a mile of my house that have some of these monsters in them. I'm usually good for 6 to 10 of the 30" plus fish every spring. Most of them I have caught on a heavily dressed Mickey Finn. The only other thing I have had any luck with is a Chartreuse/White Deceiver. The only issue I have had in the past is they tend to hit the fly in the back half and from the side. Quite often they will miss the hook.

 

Best of luck in April.

 

Michael

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Thanks esseq ! Yeah I thought I had chartreuse bucktail to tie with, it turned out to be belly hair. Also in synthetic my chartreuse is short fibered craft fur, so till I get something else I think chartreuse is out.

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