It was this time, last April, when Danny Clemons and I went down to the boat landing on the Connecticut River in Springfield to do a little fishing. The water was high and murky but we did catch quite a few sizable bullheads.
About the third week of April the yellow perch began their annual spawn. Now this was fun. While we didn’t fill a five-gallon pail we did catch a few monsters.
Danny and I are waiting for it to get a little warmer before we go this year. We take a lawn chair and make ourselves comfortable. This year Lee Decatur is joining us.
Where to go:
As I already said I like fishing down by the boat landing. Another excellent place is Herrick’s Cove off Route 5 just north of Bellows Falls. Out here is plenty of room and easy access for families with kids. To get there from Bellows Falls turn onto Route 5 North just before Interstate 91. How many readers remember when the State Police barracks were the first little place on the right? I think it’s a beauty salon today. Anyway continue on Route 5 a short distance and you will go over a bridge.
When you look over the bridge you will see the Williams River and the railroad tracks. When I was a kid my father took me perch fishing there. I haven’t fished there in 50 years but it used to be a spot where you could fill a five-gallon pail in a couple hours. I imagine it still is. We parked the car in a pull-off and walked down a path down to the river.
A little further on the right is a trailer park. Do you remember the ‘Tank & Tummy?’ Go by the trailer park a short distance and turn right out to Herrick’s Cove.
When you get way out the Herrick’s road you can fish the river on your left or the cove on your right. Again if you hit a day when the perch are spawning you’ll catch many. Take your kids, they’ll have a blast.
How to fish for perch:
The best bait is large night crawlers. Use a number 6 hook or maybe a number 8 hook. Hook the crawler in front of the collar near the head and then pass the hook through behind the collar and let the tail hang down so it can wiggle in the water. Toss your line out and prop up your pole. I like the tip of my pole high up in the air. This way I can see the slightest movement from a fish biting.
The walleyes will be spawning soon as well so having some live bait is a good idea. If the perch aren’t biting maybe a walleye will. Perch and walleye are some of the best eating fish we have.
How to dress:
Both perch and walleye are best fileted. Fileting is easy once you learn how. I checked YouTube to see if they had any videos on fileting and they did. If you’re new to fileting watch their videos. It’s not difficult.
How to cook:
Everyone has their favorite method. I use a hot cast iron skillet with butter. Some like to role the filets in breadcrumbs or corn meal. Others make an egg batter and dip the filets in the batter and then add the breadcrumbs. Don’t overcook fish. Three or four minutes per side should do the trick.
One good size walleye would easily feed two people. You might need six or eight perch depending on their size. The photo with this article is a perch I caught last April down at the toll bridge. You can see she is full of roe and just a whisker over 14 inches long. This is a large perch. One of these fileted would feed one. Danny Clemons caught one about the same size. I checked Vermont State records for fish. The state record for yellow perch is 16 inches.
I’m willing to bet there’s a perch in the Connecticut River that would establish a new record. Give it a try, who knows you might catch it.
When I was a kid, our neighbor, Les Cassista liked perch roe. She said it was a delicacy. We didn’t eat it so we always gave it to her. When I dressed the perch pictured with this article I removed a huge sack of roe. I looked online for a recipe and cooked it for dinner. Well I didn’t care for it much. I’m sure it’s the way I cooked it.
This week’s old saying. “The older you get the faster you get old.”