Yellow perch (Perca)
Unlike the many sunfish species commonly referred to as “perch,” the yellow perch is a true perch and closely related to the walleye and sauger.
The yellow perch’s coloration is a distinctive olive green along the back, golden-yellow to yellow-green on the sides, and whitish on the belly. Appearance will vary somewhat in different geographical regions. There are 6 to 8 dark vertical bands running down each side and a touch of orange on the fins.
The yellow perch’s body is oblong and with a slight hump before the dorsal fin where the body is deepest. A sharp ridge covers the gill. Yellow perch have two dorsal fins, the first being spiny and the second featuring two spines and a series of soft rays. Its eyes are yellow to green. Yellow perch are distinguished from walleye and sauger by their prominent vertical stripes and a lack of canine teeth.
Young yellow perch feed on zooplankton until they have grown to several inches in length and then feed on larger zooplankton Adult yellow perch commonly travel in schools and feed upon small aquatic insects, invertebrates (especially snails, when available), prey fish species and even their own eggs at times. They feed most often during low-light periods of the day and rarely, if ever, at night. Yellow perch do not slow down activity or feeding during winter.
Yellow perch are native to north-central and eastern North America, the Great Lakes, and as far south as the Santee River in South Carolina. They have also been widely introduced throughout the southern and western regions of the United States and southern British Columbia.
Although they are present in nearly every state due to extensive stocking, they are rare in the South, most of the West and parts of the Midwest, as well as British Columbia and northern Canada. Although the yellow perch is a freshwater fish, fisheries biologists in Nova Scotia have reported yellow perch in brackish water along the Atlantic Coast
Yellow perch are quite adaptable fish, able to thrive in both cool and warm water, and water with low oxygen levels. Yellow perch are found in a wide variety of warm and cool waters over a vast range of territory. Although they are primarily lake fish, yellow perch occasionally thrive in ponds and clear, slow-moving rivers.
Yellow perch are most abundant in clear, weedy lakes that have muck, sand, or gravel bottoms. Smaller lakes and ponds commonly produce smaller fish, although in very fertile lakes with low angling pressure, yellow perch can grow large. They inhabit open areas of most lakes and prefer temperatures between 65 and 72 F.
� The yellow perch’s species name flavescens means “yellowish.”
� The all-tackle world record is 4 pounds, 3 ounces caught in New Jersey in 1865. It remains the longest standing fresh water world record.
� Yellow perch are an important source of food for muskie, walleye, pike and bass.