If you’re looking for fun, easy catches and lots of tasty fish, you can’t beat Perch fishing. There are several types of Perch in North America. You can find them in freshwater and saltwater, and some species even live in both. This short article will cover the three main species, with info on where they live, what they taste like, and much more. Get your cooler ready!
The first and smallest fish on our list is Silver Perch. Also known as Sand Perch, these little critters usually weigh less than half a pound. The IGFA doesn’t have a record set for them yet, but they max out at around a foot long.
Despite the name, Silver Perch are actually a species of Drum. They’re closely related to Redfish and Weakfish. Like their big brothers, they like to hang out in tidal creeks, inshore bays, and among shallow seagrasses. If you’ve ever been on an inshore fishing trip on the East Coast, chances are you’ve come across them at least once.
Silver Perch don’t put up much of a fight. They’re great for kids or beginners, but not a major target among experienced anglers. People mainly use them as bait to tempt in big Stripers or Reds. Don’t give them all to the fish, though. Silver Perch are great eating if they’re big enough to fillet.
White Perch may not look like much, but they’re the most adaptable fish on our list by far. They show up in shallow saltwaters all along the Eastern Seaboard, as well as estuaries, rivers, and all five Great Lakes. They really get around. The reason for this is that they’re actually a Temperate Bass, and migrate into freshwater to spawn just like Striped Bass.
White Perch may be related to Stripers, but they don’t get anywhere as big. The world record is 3 pounds 8 ounces, but most fish are around 1 pound or less. Larger fish can still be fun to catch, mind you. They even rival Crappie in some anglers’ hearts.
Just like the rest of the Temperate Bass family, White Perch are delicious. They have a firm, white, flaky flesh that makes great eating. Even so, they’re not a major target. In saltwater, there are usually bigger and tastier fish around. In freshwater, White Perch can be hit and miss – either there’s a bunch of them or none at all. This turns anglers towards more reliable table fare.
Enter the king of Panfish. Yellow Perch are one of the most popular freshwater species in North America. They live in lakes all around the US and southern Canada. Wherever they show up, anglers catch them by the hundred.
What makes Yellow Perch special? For one thing, they’re the only ones in North America that are actually in the Perch family (Percidae). They also look a lot cooler than White or Silver Perch with their big fins, bright body, and distinctive stripes. Most importantly, they’re the tastiest fish on our list by far.
Most Yellow Perch weigh well under a pound. A 12-ouncer is considered a decent catch. They are capable of getting much bigger though. In fact, the IGFA record stands at an incredible 4 pounds 3 ounces. Feel like beating it? Good luck – the fish was caught way back in 1865, making it the longest-running freshwater record in the books.
These are the three main types of Perch in North America, but there are plenty more. For starters, Sauger and Walleye are both technically Perches, as they’re in the same percidae family. There are also a hundred “Micro Perches” known as Darters, which are too small for anglers to bother with.
Three fish. Three families. Some live in lakes, others stick to saltwater. The one thing they all have in common is that they make great eating. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and catch some!
Do you agree that Yellow Perch are the tastiest? Do White Perch rival Crappie on light tackle? Tell us what you think in the comments below!