The 40th Perch Festival Goes Virtual

The 40th Perch Festival Goes Virtual

40th Orillia Perch Festival Is A Go … 2021 Event Has Gone Virtual!

 WOW! The largest and one of the longest running fishing events in Canada is still a go and going virtual in 2021! Lake Simcoe and other waters in Simcoe County offer some of the finest yellow perch fishing in Ontario. The Annual Orillia Perch Festival has helped highlight this tremendous panfish fishery for 39 years by attracting anglers of all skill levels to the area but for its 40th year it has gone virtual in order to comply with all the necessary Covid requirements.

How it Works

Starting on June 5th and running until June 26, all waters lying within Simcoe County will be fair game, enabling participants of all ages to fish locally –either alone, with their immediate household or while physically distancing from others.

Well known angling personality, tournament pro and friend David Chong has been the honorary chairperson of the Festival for several years explains that, “participants can register and pay online where they will download the innovative “SNAPD” App. Once you catch a perch of any size, snap a photo and submit that picture on the App to automatically be eligible to win any number of daily and weekly draw prizes,”  says Chong. That’s right; you can actually strive to catch a perch every day of the 21 day event and be eligible for 21 daily prizes, 3 weekly draws, plus stack up your odds for a great chance to win the Grand Prize – a brand new Lund Boat and motor. The cost to participate is $25 for adults and $5 for kids. Visit:  to register for the App and to learn more organizers have published the following set of Q and A’s that is extremely helpful:

Fishing Spring Perch- Great Therapy for All Ages

Yellow Perch are great fun anglers of all ages to catch because they are delicious, plentiful and often eager to please.  “We are also strong supporters of catch and release and selective harvest,” says long-time organizer Doug Bunker who knew first-hand the thrill young anglers especially, have in releasing some of their catch. “We switched to a live release format in year 11 because we wanted to help conserve this fishery for future generations and this year’s App. will still allow participants to catch a perch, take a photo, release the fish and then enter basic details into the App. to be eligible for all the prizes. By teaching the values of catch and release early on in life, we are helping to build solid –conservation minded anglers for years to come,” concluded Bunker.

Where To Find Springtime Perch:

Perch can be an enigma! Some days they are seemingly everywhere they should be in the spring and anxious to gobble down whatever hot enticing bait you are casting. Other days, it’s the exact opposite.  The lesson says Dave Chong, a professional angler who grew up fishing out of Orillia and has been the honorary chairman of the festival for many years.. “Don’t let one or two fishless days dissuade you or your family from trying again. Read up on springtime perch fishing or check out any number of great you tube how-to videos on the subject.  Try different areas within Simcoe County … and remember, the saying The Early Bird gets the worm? Well- that can be applied to perch fishing … you’ll usually find more active and bigger perch early in the day, then mid-day”, advises Chong! As professional fisherman and Bassmaster Classic winner Mike Iaconelli always tells us or shouts … “NEVER GIVE UP!’

In some respects, because of the delay into June for the tournament this year, anglers can increase their odds by eliminating much of the water they would have fished during the early part of previous derbies.  Realize most of the perch will have finished spawning by May and likely won’t be hanging out in the same shallow weedy waters and back bays.  Concentrate on fishing a little deeper adjacent to those areas … or go out and fish primary and secondary points leading into those back bays.  Although most of my May and early June perch come in 6-12 feet of water, on occasion I’ve found big spawned-out Simcoe jumbo’s in 15-30 feet as well … and the best part is many other anglers don’t even think of looking there to find them!

The 2021 Orillia Perch Festival will heighten your enjoyment while safely fishing for them during the pandemic. Be sure to register for the App or check out more details here:

Wil Wegman is a Simcoe County resident and award winning outdoor writer who has won the Perchin For MS event and the Perch Attack on Lake Simcoe. He is a member of the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame and writes the regular Hooked On Fishing column for Lake Simcoe Living magazine.


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