Winter Fishing Opportunities for Jumbo Perch Abound on Lake Gogebic
By Dean S. Acheson
You would be hard-pressed to find a better fishing lake than Lake Gogebic, which stretches like an inverted equestrian riding boot some 14 miles along M-28. It’s the largest natural lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and covers parts of Gogebic and Ontonagon counties.
All told, it encompasses 13,380 acres with a maximum depth of 38 feet and a mean depth of 17.5 feet. With its girth of 2.5 miles, the 36 miles of shoreline ranges from sand and clay banks to a rocky/cobble/gravel mix. From there, it transitions to vast interior areas of mud, muck, and clay.
No matter the season, anglers will find good success with walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, and, of course, its legendary jumbo perch. The north and south ends are noted for their weedy, fish-holding cover. The mid-lake mudflats hold fish, especially those jumbo perch, nearly year-round. In the winter, the perch feed on mayfly larva emerging from the muck.
Learn to read the lake and how to use the right fishing method in the right place for the big reward! For example, using live wigglers rather than perch minnow to target that species. Find the transition zones—from hard to soft—to increase your success.
While most anglers tend to think of using a guide only in the warmer months, it’s not a bad idea to enlist the help of one of those experts to not only put you on the hot spots but also to finetune your presentation and choice of bait/lure.
As a bonus for those staying overnight at one of the lodges on the lake, you can hop on your snowmobiles and be on fish in a flash of your depth finder.
Special bag limits for Lake Gogebic ensure that the jumbo perch population will remain strong for future generations to enjoy. Also, walleye fishing closes on March 15. Fishermen may keep two walleye in the 13”–15” range, and the other three fish in your five-fish daily bag limit have to be over 15” or all five can be over 15”. If you’re coming from another state, be sure to get your Michigan fishing license!
Gogebic Lodge Ice Fishing Derby
Gogebic Lodge is sponsoring its 38th annual ice fishing derby on Saturday, March 5. With a purse of $5,000 total prizes, there will be various cash awards for perch, walleye, and northern pike, in addition to prizes for the first crappie, whitefish, and rock bass registered. In addition, door prizes will be awarded. Fishing hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST. For more information, visit gogebiclodge.com or call 906-842-3321.
Maple Ridge Bait and Taxidermy Hog-A-Thon
Maple Ridge Bait and Taxidermy plans to again host its Hog-A-Thon, depending on any COVID-19 restrictions. Owner Gus Pietila says the 2021 Hog-A-Thon—perch only—will be Saturday, March 13. Fishing hours are daybreak to 5 p.m. EST last weigh-in (the lake is in two times zones). The largest perch will net the winner $1,500; second, $1,000; and third, $500. Entry fee is $35. There is no children’s division. For non-target fish, there is a $250 prize for the largest walleye and $100 for largest crappie.
Gus notes anglers can increase their chances by using spring bobbers because of the light bite, by using sonar units to find them, and by fishing in about 24 feet of water. For more information, call 906-365-5050.
Contributing writer Dean S. Acheson is a Wisconsin native with a long career in newspaper and magazine writing and editing. He considers himself semi-retired and enjoys fishing, scuba diving, snowmobiling, photography, and, of course, travel. “I’ve been blessed with traveling throughout Wisconsin and the UP, seeing the diverse communities, taking in the festivals, chatting with the locals, and hiking the trails.”
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