Fish Identification – Perch (pan fish)


Characteristics: Perch can also go by the name Yellow Perch, and for good reason. They have a dark back, almost black, and their sides are a yellowish greenish colour. Along their body they also have vertical black bands. They are related to walleyes yet they are a quite different fish. In some perch their bottom fins have a very distinctive orange colour. If you see any hint of orange on the fins it is a dead give-away that you have landed a perch. They are usually considered pan fish so they do not grow too big. They can range from 6-12 inches and will usually weigh in at a pound or less, with anything over 2 pounds being considered a real trophy perch.

How to handle: Even though they may be a close cousin of the walleye they do not have sharp jagged teeth like them. Like the largemouth bass or smallmouth bass you can easily place your fingers in its mouth to release your hook. When you do catch one they are usually easily handled by grabbing them in the palm of your hand and gently squeezing them so that they don’t jump out while you are freeing your tackle. Make sure that before you grab them you retract their dorsal fin so as to not jab yourself on it. One big tip is to make sure you have pliers standing by in order to remove your hook. These guys are notorious hook swallowers and if you are fishing with a hook and bobber you can expect them to inhale your bait.

Where to find them: These guys are an abundant species and can be found in almost all bodies of water in Ontario. They prefer to hang out on the edges of weeds, but fairly close to an open clear spot where they can quickly swim out and grab a snack then hide back into the weeds. Since they are usually small fish they tend to hide in places where they can make a quick get away from large predators. They can hang around in anywhere from just 1 or 2 feet of water up to 20-25 feet of water once the ice freezes the lake over.

How to catch them: Perch are a relatively easy fish to catch. They are active all day long and can be caught right from morning into the late evening. They are a perfect fish to go after if all you want to do is have some action all day long or want to introduce a child to fishing. The best and easiest way to catch them in simply with a hook and bobber combo. You can simply cast out your line on the end of a dock or from a shore to locate these little fighters. Look for an open spot amongst weeds and just wait for them to come out and go after your bait. Like other pan fish they provide hours of fun and will almost never stop biting. Like rock bass they are not easily spooked by man-made structures such as docks or in and around docked boats. You can also get lucky and catch them using a small spinner or spoon. Once of the best ways to catch them is to go ice fishing. When the summer is gone I can’t wait until the water freezes over and I can land a few of these guys through the ice. With ice fishing they are best caught using a minnow. Usually during this time they have also fattened up so catching them is a lot of fun. On a good day it is not uncommon to catch upwards of 20 of them in once ice fishing trip. Like walleye these guys also make for excellent eating. Usually you can keep a lot of them for eating but again, make sure you check your local regulations as to what size and amount you can keep.

A Live Piotr Perch


Perch 2