After more than 30 years of reporting about fish, fishing and fishers, I have yet to grow weary of

After more than 30 years of reporting about fish, fishing and fishers, I have yet to grow weary of the research required to make sure I have my facts right.

Research can be tedious, painstaking and sometimes frustrating. Or it can be fun, freewheeling and even exhilarating.

My research, of course, mostly happens out on the lakes around Youngstown. Through rain and wind, heat and humidity, cold and ice, spring through fall (winters, too) I travel to the water to learn and explore.

I find new places, see new sights and experience new revelations.

It’s a tough job, but one I gladly pursue as I share what I learn every Saturday with readers.

Thursday was a perfect day to visit the laboratory – Mosquito Creek Reservoir.

The forecast indicated I’d be “researching” during changing conditions. The day started cloudy and breezy. Then the sun popped through and the breeze throttled down to nothing much more than a few wisps before stirring back to just enough moving air to put a light chop on the surface.

As the weather shifted, so did the fishing. Interestingly, it was good throughout the eight hours I was on Mosquito, but it did require a few adjustments.

One thing that did not change, however, was the food on which the largemouth bass and other animals were feasting.

Yellow perch have become a more significant food source at Mosquito and other Youngstown-area waters in the past 10 years.

My “research” has been extensive, and Thursday’s lab time underscored once again the importance of perch in our local lakes.

The second bass I hooked was a 3-pound bass that spit out a 5-inch perch during the fight. Throughout the day, packs of perch chased my lures back to the boat.

Most of my day was out on the flats where aquatic vegetation is growing, 200 to 300 yards offshore. The perch were everywhere out there.

For an hour during my lab session, I ventured in toward the shoreline and observed swarms of yellow perch darting around the cover. They were easy to identify in the swimming pool clarity.

Early in the afternoon, a trio of loons joined me in fishing a particularly productive acre of aquatic plants. They approached as close as 10 yards from my boat, and I could see they were successful at thinning out the burgeoning perch population.

Not so many years ago, I’d have spent my day tossing shad-imitating baits. Thursday, every lure I threw featured perch colors. My bladed jig, plastic worms, creature baits and topwater all had a splash of perch – and they all produced chunky Mosquito largemouth bass.

My research shows bass love yellow perch. Mosquito’s walleyes eat them, too, as do the crappies that pick off baby perch and the northern pike that run down perch that reach jumbo status.

Thursday’s learnings are obvious. If you are fishing on Mosquito, tie on a lure that looks perchy.

Research. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

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