You’re winter fishing for yellow perch and you know live bait is usually most effective but you either can’t get any minnow, or just don’t like using bait? Catching yellow perch on lures gets tougher the colder the water is, but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy some success. Casting small spinnerbaits (like Beetle Spins and similar-sized spinners) is an excellent method to try, especially in relatively shallow ponds and creeks. They weigh very little, so you can give a slow retrieve to match the cold conditions without snagging bottom even in shallow water — and perch absolutely love ‘em. Here's how to fish them effectively.

yellow perch on beetle spin
Note the Beetle Spin on the rod; this is a great wintertime artificial offering.
  • Cast out and allow the spinnerbait to sink all the way to bottom.
  • Lift your rod tip quickly enough to get the spinner blade spinning, and begin to reel. At this point, you should feel the vibration of the blade.
  • Continue cranking as you drop your tip, maintaining tension on the line.
  • Slow your crank speed and feel for the corresponding slow-down of the blade’s vibrations. Continue retrieving with the blade creating a slow, steady whomp-whomp-whomp.
  • If it feels like the blade has stopped spinning, you’ve slowed down too much. But increasing cranking speed slightly won’t necessarily get it spinning again; you may need to give a short but fast swipe with the rod tip to activate that blade, then slow the retrieve back down again.

Sometimes the blade on one of these lures seems to stick, and won't turn easily. When this happens, inspect the blade and swivel for bits of weed or dirt. Cleaning it off will often get it spinning freely again. If there's no obvious item clogging up the works let about three feet of line out beyond the rod tip, swing the lure through the air, and slap it onto the water's surface a time or two. Often that will eliminate any contaminant and it'll start working properly again.