Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) - Native

Yellow perch.

Adult yellow perch are brightly-colored and unmistakable.

Identification. Usually deeper-bodied than walleye. Distinctive yellow to tan body with about 7 broad, olive vertical bars. Tail slightly forked. Moderate-size mouth extending between front and middle of eye. Canine teeth absent. Anal spines 2, anal soft rays 6-8. Dorsal soft rays 12-13. Dusky blotch at back of spiny dorsal fin. Pelvic and anal fins reddish in adults (bright red on spawning fish). Typically olive on back and white on belly. Juveniles look like miniature adults, but are not brightly colored.

7 cm yellow perch in a tank.

This 3-inch juvenile yellow perch looks just like an adult, but is not brightly-colored.

Size. Commonly 6 to 11 inches. State survey max. size 15.4 inches. Conn. State Record 2.8 pounds. Max. reported size 19.7 inches. World Record 4.2 pounds.

Distribution. Native to much of Canada, the North Central and Northeastern United States, and the Eastern coastal states to South Carolina. Widely introduced elsewhere. Yellow perch are found in almost all lakes and ponds and larger streams in Connecticut, where they are typically common to abundant.

Yellow perch distribution map.

All maps created in 2009. See CT DEEP Fish Community Data for updated distributions.

Habits. Schooling fish that are equally at home in open water and along shorelines. Yellow perch feed during daylight hours and are typically inactive at night. They can readily be caught on a variety of small lures and bait (such as jigs, minnows and worms). Yellow perch are easy to keep in home aquariums if started at a small size. Small yellow perch will accept pellets, but as they grow they require at least some fresh/live food. Perch are passive fish that hide in the presence of more aggressive species.

Comments. Yellow perch are one of the state’s most popular panfishes. They actively feed during the winter, making them a staple for ice anglers. They are also an important forage fish for large predators, such as bass and pickerel. They are one of the earlier-spawning fishes in Connecticut, depositing very distinctive and conspicuous curtains of pale yellow eggs that cling to underwater branches and shoreline vegetation during March and April.


Text and images adapted from Jacobs, R. P., O'Donnell, E. B., and Connecticut DEEP. (2009). A Pictorial Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. Hartford, CT. Available for purchase at the DEEP Store.