What Is A Yellow Perch – The Complete Breakdown

By Get Fishing •  Published: 02/25/23 •  6 min read

The Yellow Perch is just one of 6,000 species belonging to the Percidae family. This fish is known for its coloration and distinct dorsal fin. Although not a huge fish, these guys are fun to catch and if you happen upon a school of them, you’ll have a great day fishing!

What is a yellow perch

What is a Yellow Perch?

Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) belong to the perch, or Percidae, family. The Yellow Perch in particular is a freshwater fish prized for its mild taste. They’re considered a game fish by most fishermen. You might hear this species referred to simply as perch, preacher, or striped perch.

Why is it Called a Yellow Perch?

The under-coloring of the Yellow Perch ranges from yellow to a yellow-green. This is what gives them their common name, and the color is obvious both in and out of the water. 

What Type of Fish is a Yellow Perch?

Yellow Perch are sport fish, meaning they’re fished for recreationally and sometimes competitively. Considered a bony fish, this fish is a perciform – literally meaning “perch like.” Perciformes are rayed fish and the Yellow Perch is native to most of North America.

What Does a Yellow Perch Look Like?

Although Yellow Perch may not initially look striking, closer scrutiny reveals them to be elaborate and impressive fish. It has a blunt nose, long lower jaw, and an elongated body. In terms of coloration, their base color is yellow or yellow-green. Over that is a vertical barred pattern, usually darker in color and originating from the head/dorsal area. Fin coloration varies from yellow, yellow-green, and a silvery white.  

Yellow Perch Habitat

This species is most often found in lakes, but thanks to travel and human intervention, they can also be found in rivers, streams, and ponds. Yellow Perch prefer marshy or reedy areas of water close to the shore. They’re easy-going fish without much preference when it comes to water temperature. If you’re looking to catch Yellow Perch, you can do so in any season!

Where Can I Find Yellow Perch? 

Yellow Perch are native to most of North America. They range throughout Canada, south into Ohio/Illinois, into Northeast US, and throughout the Mississippi River territory. Although not native to the northwest and west, they’ve been introduced out that way as well. 

What Do Yellow Perch Eat? 

Due to variations in size and habitat, the Yellow Perch has a diverse diet. Smaller fish will feed on zooplankton, mosquitos, and other small insects. Larger fish go after juvenile fish, shrimp, crayfish, fish eggs, and even other smaller Perch. 

How to Catch a Yellow Perch? 

With their diverse diet, Yellow Perch aren’t too hard to catch. They’re popular due to the fact that they can be caught in any season. They will respond to live bait, but will also go after the following:

When it comes to tackle, keep in mind that they don’t get too big. Use a size 4-8 bait hook and a 4-8 lb line (go heavier if you’re hoping for a big one!). Ultralight jigs and ultralight fishing gear will help for that extra-sensitive touch.

ice fishing for yellow perch

Perch are most active during the early morning or at dusk, so give your local lake or pond a try around that time of day. If you’re fishing in winter or colder weather, Yellow Perch will feed deep–along the bottom of the water source. Ice fishing for perch is a much-loved pastime. 

How Big Do Yellow Perch Get?

The size of the Yellow Perch depends on the space they have to grow. Although not the largest sport fish out there, they can reach an average of 7-8 inches. However, it isn’t unheard of for some Perch to reach almost 20 inches in length. 

How Fast Do Yellow Perch Grow?

Yellow Perch are a freshwater species that grow very slowly. Females tend to grow faster than males, however thanks to the lifespan of this fish, there’s no need to grow quickly.

What is the World Record Yellow Perch Fish?

According to the IGFA, the world record Yellow Perch came in at 4 lb 3 oz. This fish was caught by Dr. C. Abbot in New Jersey, in the year 1865.

How Long Do Yellow Perch Live?

The average lifespan of a Yellow Perch in the wild is 10 years, which is above average for many native species in North America – especially sport fish! 

Are Yellow Perch Good to Eat?

Yes, Yellow Perch are prized by many anglers for their mild taste. The flesh holds together well and can be cooked a wide variety of ways. 

When Do Yellow Perch Spawn?

Yellow Perch don’t mind chilly water and will spawn shortly after ice melt, in water temps of 45 – 50 degrees. Spawning usually occurs once a year at night, but females can spawn up to 8 times in their lifetime due to their longevity. If you happen to be fishing during spawning season, there’s a good chance you’ll see male Yellow Perch with red or yellow coloration on their fins. 

Do Yellow Perch Have Teeth?

Yes, Yellow Perch have a mouthful of small sharp teeth, and feel similar to largemouth bass or bluegill teeth.

Is a Yellow Perch a Sunfish?

Like Sunfish, fish belonging to the Percidae family have rayed fins. However a Yellow Perch is not a Sunfish. 

Is A Yellow Perch a Panfish?

Due to their smaller size and good eating, Yellow Perch are in fact considered panfish. They’re perfect for frying up in a pan after a great day of fishing. Just keep an eye out for bones!

Is a Yellow Perch the Same As a Bluegill?

No; the Yellow Perch and Bluegill are two different species and also belong to two different families. The Bluegill is a Sunfish. It has a distinctive blue coloration around the gills and is more rounded in shape, and smaller in size. 

Is a Yellow Perch the Same As a Walleye?

Although they look similar, the Yellow Perch is not the same as the Walleye. Walleyes tend to be much larger than Yellow Perch and have a darker golden green  coloration. Walleye also have white on their fins, whereas Yellow Perch have yellow or orange fins. 

Is a Yellow Perch the Same As a Sauger?

Yellow Perch and Sauger are not the same, although they belong to the same family. Sauger are larger in size and more similar to the Walleye. Sauger have dark blotches over their bodies and spots on their dorsal fins.


Interested in a good eating fish that’s also fun to catch, but won’t break the rod? Check out the Yellow Perch! This fish is a fun introduction to sport fishing for beginners, or to the perch family in general. Happy fishing!

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