White Perch vs. White Bass: A Simple Guide
Mar 12, 2021 | 3 minute read Comments
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you ever been out fishing and caught something that made you think, “Is this a small White Bass or a big White Perch?” If so, you’re not alone. These two fish can be a little confusing at times, but not anymore. In this short guide, you can learn how to recognize White Perch vs. White Bass, as well as where to find them.

White Perch vs. White Bass Identification

A graphic explaining the how to identify White Perch vs White Bass. On the right, there is an illustration of a White Perch, with a White Bass beneath it. On the left, text reads "1. Body Shape: White Perch are deepest in front of the dorsal fins. White Bass are deepest at the dorsal fins." "2. Body Pattern: White Perch don’t have stripes. White Bass have faint horizontal stripes." "3. Dorsal Fins: White Perch fins erect together. White Bass fins erect independently." "4. Size: White Perch are smaller than White Bass."

White Perch and White Bass look pretty similar. The reason for that is that White Perch aren’t actually a Perch at all, they’re a Temperate Bass, just like White Bass. Despite their similarities, there are a few easy tricks to telling them apart.

Let’s start with the shape. White Perch and White Bass look the same shape at first glance. They have similar fins, similar tails. The difference is that Bass are deepest directly under their front dorsal fin, while Perch are deepest in front of their fins. Put simply, Perch have more of a forehead than Bass.

The next thing you should look for is stripes. White Bass have faint horizontal stripes running down their sides, with one or two reaching all the way to the tail. Perch don’t have any stripes at all. If the fish has broken stripes, it might be a Whiterock Bass – a hybrid of White and Striped Bass.

Two anglers holding up fish on a boat. The angler on the left is holding a Largemouth Bass and a White Perch. The angler on the right is holding two Hybrid Striped Bass. Each fish is labeled in red writing.

Another clear sign of what fish you’ve caught is how its fins work. Lift up the front, spiny dorsal fin and see if the rear fin erects with it. If it does, it’s a Perch. If not, it’s a Bass. Finally, if it’s much over 12 inches, chances are it’s a Bass. Either that, or you’ve caught a record-breaker!

Perch and Bass Habitat

It’s all well and good knowing how to spot White Bass vs. White Perch, but you also need to know where they live if you’re going to catch them. At the same time, there are some habitats that only support one species, which makes identifying it a no-brainer.

The cool thing about White Perch is that they can live in both fresh and saltwater. They’re at home in brackish estuaries and coastal streams, and there are even a few sea-run populations. In freshwater, they do best in small to medium-sized ponds and lakes. That’s where you should look if you want to fill your cooler. Wherever they are, White Perch tend to hold on or near the bottom.

An angler standing on a boat holding a fishing rod and a White Perch which he has just caught.

Unlike Perch, White Bass can’t survive in saltwater. They usually stick to clear, cool waters with lots of space and plenty of water over 10 feet deep. They can live in lakes, reservoirs, and ponds, as well as deep pools in rivers. Ideally, you should look for them in bodies of water measuring 300 acres and up, where they’ll be hunting out in open water.

White Bass and White Perch are distinct in several ways. They have different markings, reach different sizes, and prefer different habitats. One thing they do have in common is that they taste great. So enough reading, time to get out fishing!

What’s the biggest White Bass you ever caught? How do you like to cook Perch? Drop us your thoughts in the comments below. We’re always here to talk fish!

Comments (2)
  • John johnson

    Nov 21, 2019

    Thank u for showing me the diffance

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      Nov 21, 2019

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. Glad I could help!

      Tight lines!

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