Scientific Name: Perca flavescens
Ideal Temp: 63-77°F (18-25°C)
Environment: Lake, River, Stream
Technique: Bottom Fishing, Casting, Fly, Jigging
Lure Type: Bottom Rig, Flies, Jigs, Soft Plastics
World Record: 1.91 kg (4 lb 3 oz) Bordentown, New Jersey, USA
The yellow perch (Perca flavescens), commonly referred to as perch, is a freshwater perciform fish native to much of North America. Other common names for yellow perch include American perch, coontail, lake perch, raccoon perch, ring-tail perch, ringed perch, and striped perch.
Yellow perch is often recognized by its dark vertical stripes and gold or yellow body color. Perca is derived from early Greek for "perch" and flavescens is Latin for "becoming gold" or "yellow colored". Adult sizes typically range from 3.9–11.4 in (10–30 cm); though have been known to grow larger. The yellow perch has a laterally compressed body with an oval, oblong shape. The anal fins are a green or yellow-orange, the dorsal fin is an olive color, and the belly is cream-colored. The vertical bands fade as they near the belly. Spawning intensifies the bands in males, and they can be nonexistent in juveniles. The spiny anterior dorsal fin has 13 to 15 spines. The soft rear fins also have one or two spines, but which are mostly made up of rays that range from 12 to 15 in number. The pelvic fins are close together, and the homocercal caudal fin is forked. The operculum tip has one spine, and the anal fin has two spines. There are seven to eight branchiostegal rays. Yellow perch has many fine and sharp teeth. They are rough to the touch because of their ctenoid scales. Common names for the perch are yellow perch, American perch, and lake perch. Yellow perch are one of the smaller-sized members of the perch family (Percidae).
Latitudinal variability in age, growth rates, and size have been observed among populations of yellow perch, likely resulting from differences in day-length and annual water temperatures. Typically, northern populations of yellow perch live longer and grow to larger sizes. However, southern populations of yellow perch generally grow much faster. In many populations, yellow perch often live from 9–10 years, with adults generally ranging from 4-10 inches in length.
The world record yellow perch (18 in., 4 lb. 3 oz.) was caught in 1865 from New Jersey, and is the longest standing record for freshwater fish in North America.Anglers often refer to large yellow perch as "jumbo perch" or "jack perch".
The yellow perch has a yellow to brass-colored body and distinct pattern, consisting of five to 9 olive-green, vertical bars, triangular in shape, on each side. Its fins are lighter in coloration, with an orange hue on the margins. The body is laterally compressed. The anterior portion of the body is deep, gradually tapering into a slender caudal peduncle. The opercle is partially scaled, and a single spine is present on the posterior margin.
As with all percid fishes, yellow perch have two dorsal fins. The anterior is convex in shape and consists of 11-15 spines. The posterior dorsal fin has a straight margin, consisting of one or two spines and 12-16 rays. The nape, breast, and belly of yellow perch are all fully scaled. A complete lateral line (50-70 scales) is present. The anal fin consists of two spines and six to 9 rays. A single spine and five rays make up the pelvic fins, and the pectoral fins consist of 13-15 rays. The caudal fin of the yellow perch is forked.
Yellow perch are only found in North America; they are native to the Arctic, Atlantic, Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River, and Mississippi River basins. In Canada, its native range extends throughout Nova Scotia and Quebec north to the Mackenzie River. It also is common in the northwest to Great Slave Lake and west into Alberta. It is not native to any other areas of Canada. In the United States, the native range extends south into Ohio, Illinois, and throughout the majority of the northeastern United States. It is also considered native to the Atlantic Slope basin, extending south to the Savannah River.
The yellow perch has also been widely introduced for sport and commercial fishing purposes. It has also been introduced to establish a forage base for bass and walleye. These introductions were predominately performed by the U.S. Fish Commission in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, unauthorized introductions have likely occurred from illegal introductions, dispersal through connected waterways, and use as live bait. Isolated populations now occur in the northwest and southwest portions of the United States. Currently, the yellow perch has not been introduced outside of North America. Introductions in Canada have been less intense than in the United States.
In the northern waters, females often are larger, grow faster, live longer, and mature in three to four years. Males mature in two to three years at a smaller size. Perch do not grow as large in the northern waters, but tend to live longer. Most research has showed the maximum age to be about 9–10 years, with a few living past 11 years. The preferred temperature range for the yellow perch is 17.6 to 25°C (63 to 77°F), with an optimum range of 21 to 24°C (70 to 75°F) and a lethal limit in upwards of 33°C (91°F) and a stress limit over 26°C (79°F). Yellow perch spawn once a year in spring using large schools and shallow areas of a lake or low-current tributary streams. They do not build a redd or nest. Spawning typically takes place at night or in the early morning. Females have the potential to spawn up to eight times in their lifetimes.
The voracious feeding habits of yellow perch make them fairly easy to catch when schools are located, and they are frequently caught by recreational anglers targeting other species. Perch will at times attack lures normally used for bass such a 3" tubes, Rapala minnows and larger curl tail grubs on jigheads, but the simplest way to catch them is to use light line, 4#–6# test and light jigheads, 1/32–1/16 oz. There are too many small soft plastic lure designs to mention that catch all panfish, but minnow shaped lures with a quivering tail work much of the time so long as the retrieve speed is slow and the lure fished at the depth the perch are swimming. Curl tail grubs require the slowest speed of retrieve and may not be preferred when the bite is slow.
Some good baits for perch include worms, live and dead minnows, crickets, and any small lure resembling any of these. Larger perch are often caught on large live minnow on a jighead, especially when fished over weed beds. Bobbers, if used, should be spindle type for the least resistance when the bait is struck, yet indicate any slight pull of the bait. Raising the rod top is usually more than enough force to set the hook.