Perch Fishing for Beginners

What Is Perch Fishing All About?

Perch is one of the most popular species to fish for in the United States and Canada, thanks not only to its abundance throughout North America, but also because it’s easy to catch for even the novice angler. It is not hard to get perch to bite as they feed all year around, and their light bodies make them quite simple to reel in, rarely reaching over five pounds.

The more popular forms of perch are found in freshwater, but there are also different species found in the ocean as well. Saltwater perch fishing can be just as rewarding as they are legendary for their excellent taste.

While most people tend to catch perch from a lake, river perch fishing is also a common pastime – which means you can fish perch in just about any body of water you can think of. Its firm, tasty meat makes for the perfect fish fry. Perch can, of course, be cooked in a variety of other ways, but this is the popular American tradition in many US states and provinces of Canada due to its quick and easy preparation.

What Are Perch?

By FedBul/

There are three species of perch, all with similar body shapes and different colorings: European perch, Balkhash perch, and the yellow perch, which are commonly found in North America. All three share a spiny dorsal fin and orange-reddish lower fins. Perch are considered to be a ‘pan fish’ because, as the name suggests, they can fit inside a frying pan when cooking.

The name ‘perch’ is often used to describe other fish that do no actually fit in as an actual perch species. For example, a white or silver perch belong to a completely different family, despite having the same moniker. White perch fishing is best in the New England region of the United States around the Hudson River region, whereas yellow lake perch are much more widespread throughout the continent. In Canada, the Peed Dee River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River are popular spots to go white perch fishing.

While white perch from the sea can weigh up to 5 pounds and are around 20 or fewer inches long, yellow perch are considerably smaller, growing no longer than 10 inches for the most part.

There are species of perch found in Europe, Australia, and Africa as well. As this is such a widespread fish containing several different species, identifying the proper term can get confusing. Restaurants in North America will often refer to a small bass as “rock perch” or the terribly ugly Rosefish as an “ocean perch”. Mostly, biologists divide the perch into European, American, Australian, and African varieties.

How Do You Fish for Perch?

There are many different methods that anglers will employ when they are out perch fishing, depending on the species and what part of the world they’re fishing in. Those fishing in a river will have a different method than those on a lake or ocean.

One popular method of fishing in saltwater conditions is surf perch fishing, which is where anglers wade out into the surf and cast a line from shore. This is one of the more popular ways to catch big ocean perch for those who cannot afford perch fishing charters. Bloodworms are typically chosen as live bait for these fish.

Anglers in a lake setting will traditionally use a floater when fishing for yellow perch, letting a small minnow on a hook do the work. Jigging with a worm on a jig-head works just as well, and a boat is not even required as it’s very possible to simply catch one off the end of a dock. Be forewarned, however, to eat what you catch as perch are notorious for swallowing the hook, which can harm their ability to survive after being released. If you’re looking to release the perch you catch, use a disgorger or other form of long pliers to get the hook out of the stomache. Also be wary of the perch’s spiny dorsal fin when unhooking the fish from your line. Perch may be small in contrast to the giant musky, but getting pierced by its fin can still be painful.

Given their small size – especially yellow perch – you will need to catch several fish to make a family meal out of it. Often anglers supplement their perch catches with bigger fish for an even better meal.

Popular baits for lake perch include minnows, nightcrawlers, bread, crawfish, and even maggots. Be sure not to use too big a hook as a perch’s mouth is quite smaller than other fish.

Where Can We All Fish For Perch?

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Perch are one of the most common fish species in the world today so they are easy to locate on nearly all continents and in oceans. One of the best ideas is to get a perch fishing report to optimize your fishing trip. The information you can glean from these reports can save you a great deal of time and energy, making the process much more enjoyable.

For perch fishing in Canada, hitting up the Great Lakes is the best bet for the biggest-sized perch. Perch fishing charters can help get you plenty of fish for the frying pan, but going out to most lakes and rivers on your own can give you the amount you need so long as you’re patient.

What About Perch Fishing for Kids?

When it comes to teaching kids about fishing, perch may be one of your best options. Youngsters love the fast action and quick payoff that perch provide, and since the fish tend to be smaller than most other game fish, they are much easier to reel up. Better yet, perch fishing gear is inexpensive, making this small fish the perfect choice for family get-togethers.

Using bobbers and live bait is the best way to get kids hooked on perch, as it is simple and exciting for children to wait for the floater to disappear beneath the waves. Perch fishing rigs are easy enough for kids to use as well.

To whet their appetite, a perch fishing video can be an excellent way to bring children into the fold as anglers and give them a taste of what it will be like to bring in this popular fish.

Perch Species Identification

The following information is courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources


Perch are a popular panfish that is made up of three species: European perch, balkhash perch, and yellow perch. There are several species of fish that have the term “perch” in their name, but they are not technically part of the Perca genus. An example being the white perch, which is actually part of the bass family. Another differing family are surf perches. This section will look more closely at yellow perch.


Yellow perch are golden yellow to brassy green with six to eight dark vertical bars and a white to yellow belly. Yellow perch do not have large canine teeth like the closely related walleye or sauger. Their pelvic and anal fins usually have some orange coloration and the first dorsal fin has a dark blotch near the rear of the fin. All other fins are relatively clear with no distinct markings.

Maximum Size

Rarely reach over 4 pounds (1.8 kg) and 21 inches (53 cm). Larger sized specimens are often referred to as “jumbo perch” by anglers.

Geographic Range

Found throughout much of northern and eastern United States and Canada.


The yellow perch is found primarily in lakes, reservoirs, and occasionally in slow moving streams. They prefer relatively clear water and are often associated with rooted aquatic vegetation.


Aquatic insects, larger invertebrates, and small fishes.


Yellow perch spawn from mid-April to early May by depositing their eggs over vegetation or submerged brush and give no parental care. The eggs are laid in strands that bunch up and swell after being laid to form a large gelatinous mass.


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Martin Garagher
Martin Garagher
Martin was born in a fishing village near Baja peninsula. He knows the art of fishing since he was 6 years old. He is now an accomplished fisherman with many decorations in his belt. He currently works as a professional fishing trainer and an author in many international fishing magazines.


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