Common Family: The Perch Family
Common Name: Yellow Perch
Scientific Name: Perca flavescens
Yellow perch have a yellow or greenish-yellow body with five to nine dark olive bars. They have two separated dorsal fins and paired fins are generally orange in color.
Yellow perch can be found in several reservoirs in West Virginia, as well as in a few small impoundments and in the larger rivers such as the Ohio and the Monongahela. Yellow perch can be found in a variety of habitats from deep, open areas over soft bottom to shallow areas with dense weeds. Yellow Perch spawn during the early spring and drape long egg strands over woody debris or vegetation. During warm months, schools of yellow perch can be seen roaming the shallows through cover searching for food. Yellow perch will often retreat to deeper water as the temperature drops in winter and during the hottest periods of the summer.
Yellow perch tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions and are usually resilient to many typical conservation issues. However, a reduction in suitable spawning habitat such as woody debris or vegetation can reduce spawning success and decrease population numbers. In addition, lake level fluctuations during the spawning period may strand eggs or larvae that were in shallow water.
Yellow perch are aggressive eaters and can be caught near the bottom with worms, minnows or small lures. Yellow perch are prized by anglers for their excellent tasting fillets. Most yellow perch caught by anglers will be from 4 to 12 inches. Large yellow perch over 12 inches are coveted by anglers and are often known as jumbos.
The West Virginia length record for Yellow Perch is 15.44 inches (Craig Hollandsworth, 2020) and the weight record is 2.04 pounds (Clinton Mills, 2018).
Both walleye and sauger have a similar body shape to the yellow perch. However, they can be easily be distinguished by the absence of large canine teeth in yellow perch. Yellow perch are also much larger than other members of the Percidae family, such as the darters.