Yeah, I know winter isn't officially over just yet, but the kids and I caught a bunch of yellow perch last weekend and in our reality, a good day of perch-jerking means that spring has arrived. It’s time to de-winterize the boat, wipe the dust off the tackle box, and re-spool all your reels—finally.

perch fishing

Could it really be true? Is spring finally here? YES! (Photo by Mollie Rudow)

Nine inch perch may not exactly qualify as “big game,” but it’s the only game in town at this time of year, for many of us living along the east coast. You Florida guys can wipe the smirks off your faces, because soon those sailfish you’re catching will head up the coast and you’ll be melting under a blazing-hot sun. Until that time, I refuse to be jealous. (Okay, maybe a little).

Every March as these perch go into feeding mode, we anxiously wait for a weekend day with halfway decent weather so we can go chase ‘em. The immediate reward is in the fillets—these fish may be little but they are tasty—but the bigger benefit is in the knowledge that snow, freezing temperatures, and chopping firewood is a thing of the past. So these trips take on an added significance. On top of that, the simple fact that you aren't indoors huddled around a wood stove almost forces you to have a good time. In fact, we all had so darn much fun that in five hours of fishing with three teenage siblings crammed aboard a 14-foot boat, there was only one minor sniping incident. Getting rods into their hands, it seemed, was a great way to end cabin-fever-induced teen angst. Even better, it was a great way to start the new season. Welcome, spring of 2013. We’re more than ready for you.