Smaller minnows are one of the best perch baits, especially for targeting the bigger perch that you want to keep for the frying pan. Fathead minnows and small shiner minnows are probably the most popular types of minnows to use. Just don’t go too big for these fish and you’ll catch plenty of perch.
Most anglers will use a piece of a nightcrawler or a half nightcrawler when fishing for perch. If you get on a school of big perch though, they may want a full nightcrawler. Walleye anglers catch a lot of their biggest perch when fishing with a spinner rig and a full nightcrawler, so it could be a good way to target some of the bigger perch. To put more fish in the boat though, you will almost always do a little better by using a piece of a worm or half nightcrawler.
Red worms are the perfect size bait for yellow perch. The full nightcrawlers work well too, but if you can find some red worms, they will actually work better for most of the perch you are going to catch. If you are looking to target some of those jumbo perch, you may want to go with the fatter nightcrawlers, but plenty of jumbo perch are caught with red worms too.
Leeches work well for perch. Most anglers prefer to use nightcrawlers or small minnowsfor perch, but leeches will work as well. Leeches usually catch bigger perch and they work great on the back of a spinner rig.
Softshell Crayfish are one of the best baits for catching perch, especially on the Great Lakes. Typically, it only takes a small piece of softshell crayfish to get plenty of bites, but some anglers do prefer to use bigger pieces or even the whole crayfish if it’s a smaller crayfish. This will help to attract bigger perch, but 1/2 inch pieces will get the job done too. Go ahead and use a small ice fishing jig, a drop shot rig or a slip bobber and you should have some success.
Small pieces of shrimp about 1/2 inch long work well when fishing on the back of a small jig, preferably an ice fishing jig. You can also rig the shrimp on a very small hook and fish it on a slip bobber or drop shot rig. A light jigging action will work to draw some strikes or you can just let the shrimp sit still. Either way you plan on fishing it, the tiny pieces of shrimp are an awesome bait for targeting shrimp.