Perch Fish: Discover The Perch & What Do Perches Eat?

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What is a Perch Fish

Perch is the name of many distantly related fish from the perch family. They are called the Percidae, the order of Perciformes and class of Actinopterygii.

However, the name of perch is very common as there are many species distantly related to this family and are the member of the perch family.

They are small, and sometimes they are also medium-sized, carnivorous fish which like to dwell at the bottom of the freshwater. They have two dorsal fins with long and round bodies.

Their swimming bladder is usually absent or reduced. Their eyes are dorsal, conspicuous and their pelvic and anal fins have spines.

Initially, the perches are from North America. They are mostly found in the waters near Rocky Mountain. However, there are a few species that are found in the west of the USA.

They are also found in Canada. Almost 16 perch species are present there, including walleyes, yellow perch, sauger, a unique species from Europe, and 12 darters.

Darters are small fish that are no bigger than 8cm. They are primarily available in the water bodies of Ontario.

What Is A Perch Fish?

A perch fish is a species of fish that includes yellow and common perch. They are sometimes considered to be from the same family as Percidae. However, this name is also applicable to many other fish species, so that it can be confusing.

Perches are from freshwater, and they are well known for being fantastic catch fish and sport fish. They usually have a spiny and soft rayed dorsal fin.

Perches are usually carnivores; they live in discreet and quiet ponds, streams, rivers, and lakes. The perches spawn in spring, and the female perch lays their eggs in the laying string of shallow water plants and other similar places.

The most common perch, the European perch, has a dark green body with vertical stripes on the sides and an orange hue near the fins. They have six to seven dark bands on their elongated silver or white belly.

image of European perch
European perch

Perch can grow up to weigh around 3 kg (6 pounds), but there are rare cases when they weigh more than that.

The yellow perch is similar to the European perch, but the only difference is that they are yellower in color and smaller in size than the European perch. They grow (maximum) only 15 inches and weigh only 1 kg (2.2 pounds).

Perches have a deep body with hard and erect dorsal fins. Unfortunately, they also have few sharp and strong spines, which can seriously hurt those anglers who don’t handle perch with care.

Perch are interesting fish; they live in shallow waters, especially in places with tree roots or piers. The juvenile perches like to swim everywhere in schools—however, the older and mature perch travel alone.

image of a person holding a small perch fish

These fish are very easy to catch. Unlike other fish, perch are not fond of darkness; instead, they come out in daylight to feed, which is also the best time to catch them.

They like natural and spin baits very much and attack them as soon as they see one. The best smartest thing to do while catching perch is to use red color, whether as live or fake bait.

This is because their senses are triggered when they see red color. There is a high chance of finding many fish whenever you go perch fishing because they are numerous wherever they travel.

Related reading: Catfish 101: Facts, Tips, Information, And Habit – (Complete Guide)

Perch Fun Facts

As already mentioned, perch are very interesting fish species. They are colorful, vibrant and the most abundant fish found in rivers and lakes. This is why they deserve a whole section on exciting facts about them.

image of two perch fish
  • There are over 6000 different species of perch in different countries and areas. And these 6000 species are divided into 150 families from the main family of Percidae.
  • They are one of the most abundantly found fishes in the water bodies next to minnows. Minnows, too, are found in large quantities in the seas.
  • The natural habitat of perch is the water bodies of Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Taiwan, Southern China, Cambodia, Philippines, Mississippi, Nigeria, South Carolina, Europe, and Atlantic Coast, Nova Scotia. Chesapeake and other such geographical areas.
  • The perch are also known by various names derived from the same place as their main name. Like Balkhash perch, Golden perch, while perch, Silver perch, and climbing perch.
  • Their features and body shape are what distinguish them from other fish.
  • Most perch species are too small to be hunted or eaten by humans, including 160 species of the darters.
  • Perches are one of the most delicious freshwater fish. That is why most anglers are adamant about catching them. Another reason why they are fished so much is that it is very easy to catch.
  • Yellow perch are popular regarding ice fishing. They are found in such abundant quantities that fishers can catch bags and bags of them.
  • Yellow perch have humpback and oblong. This makes the deepest part of their body begin at their dorsal fin and then narrowing near the beginning of the second dorsal fin.
  • They are different from saugers and walleyes because of their canine teeth.
  • Yellow perch also have a body with a mixture of golden, yellow, and green colors. Their body has lateral lines of dark color on their back. They also experience a change in their body’s color during mating season.
  • The best location to fish for perch is the weed bed in the shallow lake. It is highly advisable to fish near the bottom of the lake because the perches roam there.
  • They can be caught with various lures and baits like minnows, worms, plugs, jigs, spinners, spoons, etc. The jigs which have a curl tail or hair are especially useful in catching perches.
  • Perches are eaten worldwide, and they are also one of the fish, which helps generate revenue for countries by fish farming.
  • These fish are cunning and notorious, so you need to opt for subtle techniques to catch them.
  • The spawning season for perches is from April to May. The female lays eggs fully mature, while the male has a darker body and an edgy anal fin.
  • Perches usually spawn in the shallow waters near the plants, their spawning is vigorous, and since the adults are also aggressive, they leave the eggs because they eat their own eggs. The eggs have to hatch and get around on their own as soon as they hatch.

What Are The Three Main Types of Perch In North America?

If you are interested in catching perch for fun or simply want to learn more about them, then it is important for you to learn as much about them as possible.

Three Main Types of Perch Fish In North America

One thing to know about them is that there are many types of perches found in North America. They are found in salt water, fresh water, and some types of perches even live in both the salt and fresh water.

However, there are three main types of perch found most abundantly in North America: Silver Perch, White perch, and Yellow perch.

Silver Perch:

Silver perch is the smallest perch found in North America. They are also called the Sand Perch, and these small fish generally weigh even less than half a pound.

There is no set record on the length of the silver perch, but they are usually just a foot long. Even though they are known as the Silver Perch, they are a species of the Drum family.

They are very much related to the weakfish and redfish. The Silver perch usually hang out together near the coastal bays, shallow grass, and tidal creeks.

If you have ever fished near the east coast, then there is a high chance that you have come across a Silver perch.

Silver perches are not fighters, so they are an excellent target for someone who is learning fishing. Mainly they are used by anglers as bait to lure in bigger fish like Stripers.

But, this doesn’t change the fact that Silver perch are delicious when cooked as a fillet.

White Perch:

White perch are one of the most versatile and adaptable fish out there. They usually swim around the Great Lakes, Eastern Seaboard, rivers, and estuaries.

The reason for their endeavors is that they are like Temperate Bass, and they move to the fresh waters to spawn like striped bass.

Therefore, white perch are most probably related to the Stripers. However, they don’t grow as much as the Stripers.

The biggest White perch is recorded as 3 pounds and 8 ounces, but mostly, they don’t weigh more than 1 pound or less than 1 pound.

Temperate bass is famous for being delicious, and so it is obvious that White perch are also tasty. They have flaky, firm flesh, which makes them worth eating.

However, they are not always easy to catch because in saltwater, there are bigger and better fish around them to catch.

In the freshwater, anglers usually are unable to catch them because they run away as soon as they sense danger, and this is why anglers go for more reliable fish to catch.

Yellow Perch:

Yellow perch are the most loved and popular freshwater species in North America, and they are basically the king of Panfish. They are found in almost all the lakes around southern Canada and the USA.

And whenever any angler hits the jackpot of finding yellow perch, they fish them in huge quantities. The thing that makes Yellow perch so special is that they are the only fish related to the Percidae family.

They are way prettier than the Silver or White perch because they are the tastiest of all perch. They weigh less than a pound; however, they can get bigger than that. The biggest Yellow perch recorded was over 4 pounds.

Markets And Economics For The Perch Fish

Perches are very popular in the Midwest USA, and mostly the perch fish market is mainly located in that place, especially near the Great Lakes. The retail price per pound for perch fillet ranges from $10 to $16.

And usually, a distributor of perch estimates the market demand to be 50 to 100 million pounds yearly. Commercial harvests for yellow perches is average 1.8 million pounds annually.

Generally, all the perch is sold for wholesale prices. Although they are sold as skin-on and scaled fillets, they usually have 38 to 42% weight.

image of four dead perch fish

The prices paid to the culturists vary from $2 to $3 per pound. But they are greatly influenced by the availability of the wild harvest and on season’s demand.

The suppliers purchase the perch from producers from the southeast, but its transportation may reduce the demand if the supplies are closer to the marketplace.

The perch is accepted in the fishing market as a flaky and firm fish with a sweet flavor. There is a high demand for perch near the vicinity of Great Lake. There is great potential for the agriculture of perch in the southern USA.

Fishing has become an essential part of many countries’ economies. It helps them stabilize the economy, especially the places abundant in fish and where there are people interested in fishing.

The market for perch fish is very diverse and wide. People from all around visit to buy perch as they are one of the cheapest and the tastiest fish the markets have to offer.

Perch also helps in the economy. Some countries like Thailand are dependent on the fishing industry to keep their economy strong. While other areas like America and Canada are not fully dependent on this industry, they still benefit.

What Do Perch Fish Eat?

Perch are diverse fish, and they also have a very diverse diet which can change according to their situations and times. Most of the time, they don’t eat anything for days (as if they are trying to lose weight).

The diet of perch changes for many different reasons. Mostly it changes because of the availability of the food. So, we can say that perch feed on whatever is available and what their body allows them to eat.

drawn image of perch fish

If perches cannot find food and resources, they can survive up to two days without eating anything.

Usually, they like to eat aquatic creatures, baitfish, mayfly larvae, scuds, bloodworms, and small zooplanktons. They can inhabit areas around the weeds and marine plants.

This is where they found most of their food. Any fish which is smaller than the perch will eat it. Perch like to hunt for their prey, and that is why they stay close to the ground.

This is the reason why baits work great on them. Because perches are aggressive fish, they will attack the baits as soon as they see them if they haven’t eaten in a while.

Perch Vs. Sunfish

One of the biggest misconceptions is that sunfish is a perch. We assure you that they are not the same. If you say this in front of a marine biologist, they will probably cringe at hearing that perches are similar to sunfish.

Both these fishes should not be confused with each other because they both belong to different families. Perches belong to the family of Percidae, and this family further includes walleyes, yellow perches, and darters.

image of the green sunfish
Green Sunfish

But, on the other hand, sunfish are fish whose males have vibrant bodies. They are usually called pumpkin seeds. Sunfish have many fish in their family like longear sunfish, redbreast sunfish, and orange-spotted sunfish.

Remember that perches have long and thin bodies, but sunfish have more of a patted and compressed body. The confusion arises between both fish because some of the fish called perch aren’t even perch (for example, white and silver perch).

But, all the fish, which are called sunfish, are from the same family of Centrarchidae (sometimes also known as shellcrackers). Sunfish got their name from the place they are natives of North America, Canada, Gulf Coast, USA, and southern Mexico; they are tropical fish.

The Reproduction

Perches are exciting to fish. They reproduce during spring. So, when a female perch is ready to spawn, several males surround her, and then she releases the eggs at the bottom of the water.

As soon as the eggs stick to the bottom of the surface, all the males release their sperm simultaneously so that different fathers may fertilize the eggs.

Perch are famous for being able to breed in many types of environments and habitats. They spawn only once every year in the months of March to July (they are seasonal breeders).

Perches always choose to spawn in the water, which is less than 7 to 8 meters deep. Some perches breed in the same place they live in like white perch, but some perches travel to faraway places to lay eggs.

Their goal is to find the perfect breeding ground to lay eggs (especially if they live in the ocean). They can easily reproduce in salty water, but their preference is to reproduce in freshwater.

The female perch can usually lay eggs ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 in one spawning session.

The eggs stick together as well as on the bottom of the ocean’s surface, and once the female lays the eggs and the male fertilizes them, they both leave the eggs unprotected because if they stay around the eggs, they eat them.

So, the babies hatch and grow up on their own.

How Long Do Perch Fish Live

Perches have a long life span. They can usually live up to 8 to 10 years. When they are born, they are usually only 12mm long, but as they feed, their bodies grow.

Male perches can mature in their first year, but it mostly takes almost two years for them to mature. However, the female perches mature when they are 4 or 5 years old.

Even though females mature after the males, they still grow faster than the males in size. They can weigh up to 150 grams initially, but then gradually, they start to gain weight, and at the time of maturing, they are almost around 1 pound.

Can You Eat Perch Fish?

Yes, you can most definitely eat perch. They are found in great abundance in the British and American waters. They have been a popular dinner-time menu since the Victorian era.

In the past, they were explicitly reserved for the elite class, but everyone could buy and enjoy this fish with the time that changed.

They are one of the most delicious fish from freshwater, which has flesh like trout; firm, white and creamy.

image of perch fish cooked

Since perch is the easiest fish to catch, most people go out to catch them for their meals. But to make perch delicious, you should know how to cook it. If you haven’t tried cooking it, then here is how you can do it:

  • Take your perch and clean it properly.
  • After cleaning, wash it and cut it into fillets. Coat the fish with cornmeal or breadcrumbs and let it marinade.
  • After 15 minutes, melt some butter in a skillet, let it bubble, add some ginger garlic paste, and brown it in butter.
  • Once you can smell the sweet fragrance of cooked ginger and garlic, then you can add some parsley to the mix and then put your fish fillet in the skillet.
  • Fry it from one side until it is golden brown and then fry it from the other side for color.
  • And, you have your perch ready to be eaten!

How To Catch Perch Fish?

Catching perch is easier than catching most fish. It is always a treat to see that you have caught a perch at the end of the line. However, you need a set of guidance while trying to catch perch.

Usually, the anglers prefer to catch yellow perch because it is one of the most delicious fish. Yellow perches have golden sides with ebony vertical bars on their body.

image of perch fish with a lure in its mouth

This has also gotten them the name of ringed perch. In addition, their fins have a bright orange hue, especially in spawning males (as if someone has heated up metal).

The adult perches are 12 inches long and weigh around 1 kg. This is how you can successfully catch them.

Weather Conditions:

Perches are adaptable fish, and they can survive in saltwater as well as in freshwaters. Their favorite water temperature is from 60 to 70 degrees.

You can find them in ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers. You should check with the local fishing authority for the perfect weather conditions to fish for perch.

Baits, Tackle, And Lures:

Live baits are most useful when it comes to catching perches. However, there are no baits that are perch’s favorite. But, they enjoy eating minnows, red worms, and leeches.

Other things include crayfish tail baits, crickets, larvae bait, crayfish, mayflies, etc. You can buy a spin caster combo spooled rod with a 2-4lb mono line. It works best for catching perches.

How To Identify A Perch Fish?

There are many identifications to verify whether or not the fish you just caught is a perch. But, we are going to tell you three main ways to identify them.

image of perch fish in a person's hand

These ways are easy to remember and will help you in identifying a fish in no time.


Mostly, all the perches have a greenish-brown head and back. Their sides are mostly yellow (in the case of a yellow perch), but they are also silver and golden in other cases with hues of green.

The sides of the perch have vertical stripes, and these stripes are darker than the green color of their bodies. Their bellies are white or gray regardless of what type of perch it is.


On their back, they have dorsal fins. All species of perches have two dorsal fins; one is a spiny one with sharp edges, and the other is a soft one called a soft rayfin. Sharp spiny fin can cut your hand if you don’t handle the fish with care.


The shape of the perch is a particularly special one. They have slim, long bodies and are almost 7 to 12 inches long. However, they have the potential of growing bigger than that. Their tails are in the middle of being slightly forked and curved.

These were the identifications you can use to identify a perch easily.

Perch Fishing Tips

By now, we are sure that you have fallen in love with how interesting perches are, no matter which species of perch it is. Perch fishing can be amusing, but only if you know how to fish them correctly.

They are usually found in packs near the bottom of the sea’s surface. Somedays you will find schools of them but other days you won’t be able to locate even one perch. In either case, it is essential to have a few tips on perch fishing at your fingertips.

  • Unlike many fish, perch feed in the morning, which is why they are most active in the morning and night—the first hours of both times.
  • The best time to fish for them is the first hours of the morning. And the worst time is probably the late hours of the day. This is because they become slow at night with almost no appetite. So, they don’t get attracted to the bait.
  • Try not to fish for perch in the high-pressured weather because they are not very fond of such weather conditions. By high-pressure weather, we mean; bright sunlight and clear skies, northern and eastern winds, the drastic changes in morning and night.
  • Perch like mild and temperate weather with light drizzle and clouds along with western winds. So ensure to choose a day for perch fishing in such weather conditions.
  • Perch themselves are predators of small fish, which means they are also prey for bigger fish for their habitat. That is why they try to be stealthy in their roaming.
  • They usually reside under overhanging trees, which provides them stealth and plenty of food like insects and fish. Such trees also provide shelter to the perches.
  • Two things that you should never disregard while fishing for perch are the reeds and the weeds. Like trees, both these offer protection to the perch and work as a hiding place for them.
  • They are also abundant in providing them with food. If you use a shallow diving crankbait or float rig, then you will surely be able to catch some fantastic perch.

Follow these tips for a successful perch fishing trip.

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Final Verdict:

We tried to put all the exciting and important things about perches in one place for you to learn about them. Hopefully, this article would help you in learning more about the perches and their habitat.

So, if you are looking for information regarding how to catch perch fish or if you want to know about their market value, or maybe if you want just to do your science project on perches, then you can take help from this article.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1 – Is perch fresh or saltwater fish?

By definition, perches are freshwater fish, but they can easily survive in saltwater. Some fishes like red drums are also referred to as red perch, and they live in saltwater (but they are not really perches, so we can’t say if this fact counts).

In order for a fish to be considered perch, it should be from the Percidae family.

#2 – What does perch fish taste like?

Perch has flaky white flesh, which has an excellent taste. They have a sweet flavor with a crumbling texture. Their taste is similar to that of walleye, but it is more appealing.

The perch boasts white flesh, which has a mildly melt-in-your-mouth sweet flavor. If you don’t like fish with a fishy smell, then perches are ideal for you.

#3 – Can you eat NZ perch?

Yes, you can eat the New Zealand perch. They are found in abundance near Lake Waihola. It is one of the most underrated perch to catch, but their firm and creamy flesh are delicious.

They are great for eating anyone fan of eating fish, and then you will love to eat the New Zealand perch.

#4 – Is perch a good fish to eat?

Perch is absolutely great to eat. It is hands down the most favorite fish of a lot of people. They have flaky, white flesh. The white flesh fish includes pike, walleyes, sunfish, crappies, and rock bass fish.

They all belong to the freshwater world, and they are all healthy fish to eat, and they also taste amazing.

#5 – What’s better, ocean perch or Lake Perch?

There is no comparison between lake and ocean perch because both of them have their advantages and specifications.

For example, the lake perch is very high in monounsaturated, calcium, and polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to the ocean perch.

However, the freshwater perch has more vitamin A and folate in it. But, we are still going to be a bit biased and say that saltwater perch taste better.

#6 – Is perch better than tilapia?

Perch or tilapia both have different amount of nutrients, so they are both great for eating. Tilapia has 22% more calories, 10% more fat, and 31% more protein.

However, perch has 28% more calcium and 200% more sodium in it. So, both fish are advantageous for our bodies, and we should eat both of them in enough quantities.

#7 – Is perch good for pregnancy?

Fish is amazing for pregnant women. They are high in all the nutrients that the body needs during pregnancy.

However, an abundance of everything can be harmful (especially for pregnant women), and that is why they should eat every fish in a limited quantity.

They should eat one serving per week of fish. And if they are eating perch for one week, they should not eat any other fish in that week.

#8 – What do sea perch eat?

Sea perch like to eat krill and copepods. They also enjoy eating small fry fish. They are highly adaptable to their environment, and that is why they will eat anything that helps them survive if they can’t find their favorite food.

#9 – Is perch a bony fish?

Perches belong to the class of Osteichthyes. They have a bony skeleton, unlike other fish, which have a cartilage structure. The bony fish comprises of one of the largest groups of living vertebrates. They have more than 30,000 species alive today.

#10 – Should ocean perch smell fishy?

Regardless of the fish species, a fish should never smell fishy. If it has a fishy smell, then it is an evident indicator that your fish is not fresh and is about to go bad or not fresh. The biggest proof that your fish is fresh is that it won’t have any smell.

#11 – Is Lake Perch high in mercury?

Freshwater perch is one of the fish which falls in the low mercury category. The guideline to eat them is 6oz per serving as it is a safe amount to eat.

This quantity of serving doesn’t have a lot of mercury because all fish have some amount of mercury in them.

#12 – Is perch fish a bottom feeder?

Perches are day and bottom feeders. They have a slow but strong bite. They will bite and eat anything, but they enjoy eating larvae, minnows, worms, and planktons. They like to live in cool waters, and the best place to fish is deep waters.

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