Both the Yellow Perch and Walleye are two species much sought after by fishermen. Aside from the obvious difference in size, these fish can look very similar. There’s a lot of disagreement in the angling world about which species tastes better, so in this post we will discuss the differences between Yellow Perch vs Walleye.
Is a Yellow Perch the Same as a Walleye?
Although the Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) and Walleye (Sander vitreus) are not the same fish, they belong to the same family – Percidae. In fact, these fish are often confused as the Walleye is sometimes referred to as a perch in some areas.
Are Perch and Walleye Related?
Yes, Perch and Walleye are related and belong to the Percidae family. This family is made up of ray-finned fish found in both fresh and brackish waters.
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What’s the Difference Between Yellow Perch vs Walleye?
The most obvious difference is size when comparing these two fish. And although their coloration is similar, both have distinct markings that will help you tell them apart. Small preferences in water conditions and habitat will determine which species you’re more likely to catch. Additionally – and very important to which fish you’re going after – they have very different diets.
What is a Yellow Perch?
The Yellow Perch is a freshwater fish known among fishermen for its easy, mild taste. This species is also called perch, preacher, or striped perch. They populate North America as a native species.
What is a Walleye?
Walleye are so popular among sport fishermen that they’re highly regulated throughout North America and Canada, their native ranges. This species is on the larger size and often caught at night due to their nocturnal tendencies. Walleye get their name from the cloudy-looking eye, but they may also be called perch, pickerel, or yellow pike.
How to Tell the Difference Walleye vs Yellow Perch
Physical appearance is the fastest way to tell the difference between these two species. While at first glance their coloration looks very similar, they have distinct patterns and details that make identifying each much easier. If you’re not sure whether you have a Walleye or Perch on the line, pay attention to the following physical traits:
- Head shape
- Body shape
We’ll also dig into habitat and feeding preferences to make sure you’re in the right spot for whichever species you’re looking to catch!
Yellow Perch vs Walleye Size Differences
The Walleye is noticeably larger than the Yellow Perch, and the Yellow Perch looks almost like a miniature version of its much bigger cousin. The average Walleye can reach up to three feet in length and anywhere from 10-20lbs as an adult. Perch, on the other hand, weigh in at 2 lbs and 7-8 inches in length on average.
Yellow Perch vs Walleye Head Shape
A Walleye’s head is longer and thinner, more predatory, whereas the Perch has a shorter head with a slight dip just over the eye. The Yellow Perch also has a blunt nose.
Yellow Perch vs Walleye Body Shape
The body shapes of these species are similar enough for it to be tough to tell them apart. However, the Walleye has a more elongated body with a longer belly. Yellow Perch have slightly deeper bodies (stockier and rounder) and much less space between their pectoral and anal fins.
Yellow Perch vs Walleye Coloration Differences
The Yellow Perch and Walleye have similar coloration, with yellow/yellow green/olive as their base color. Walleyes have dark “saddles” along their backs and white bellies. Yellow Perch also have dark coloration along their backs, but this is often barred and much heavier than in Walleyes. Walleyes also have dark speckles on their fins whereas the Yellow Perch has solid, or very lightly peppered, fins.
Where Can You Find Walleye?
Because of its popularity, the Walleye can be found over a wide range of North America. They populate the area from southern Canada into the Great Lakes region, east to the St. Lawrence watershed, and throughout the midwest. However, many anglers now stock their ponds with Walleye and this popular fish has made its way into many lakes and rivers.
Walleye Fishing Tips
Jigging, trolling, and slip floats are all great ways to catch Walleye. These fish are most active at dusk and during the evening. They respond to choppy water by feeding more actively. Adult Walleye eat smaller fish, and your bait of choice should mimic this prey.
Where Can You Find Yellow Perch?
Yellow Perch have a slightly wider range than their cousins and can be found throughout Canada, throughout the Mississippi water territory, and in the Northeast. They’ve also been introduced into the northwest and west. Yellow Perch are most often found in lakes, but can also be caught in ponds and rivers.
Yellow Perch Fishing Tips
Perch are popular due to the fight they put up, and with their varied diet, they’re attracted to a variety of lures. Perch will go after small insects, juvenile fish, shrimp, crayfish, fish eggs and much more. Check out our post on how to catch a yellow perch for tips based on your preferred season.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure your tackle is sized right – Yellow Perch don’t have large mouths and you’ll want your hook to set.
Is There a Walleye Perch Hybrid?
No, there is not currently a Walleye-Perch hybrid, though studies have shown that other close species related to these two have hybridized. Who knows – we may see a Walleye-Perch in the future!
Does Walleye Taste Like Perch?
These fish taste very similar, however Perch are slightly sweeter – and milder – in flavor. When it comes to texture, they’re essentially the same with no noticeable difference.
Does Walleye Taste Better Than Perch?
That’s entirely up to your preferences. Some anglers argue that they prefer Walleye while others like the sweeter taste of Perch. Whichever team you’re on, both species are undoubtedly good eating.
If you’re interested in seeing the differences between Yellow Perch and Walleye first hand, get out there and start fishing! These species are similar enough that it’s easy to see they’re related. However, depending what kind of fishing trip you’re looking for – and what kind of taste you prefer – you’ll likely choose one over the other as your favorite.
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