Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens)
The yellow perch is the most widely distributed member of the perch family and is common throughout New York including Long Island. Favored habitat of yellow perch is a weedy, warmwater lake. They spawn in the spring when water temperatures are in the 45° to 50°F range. The female swims among sticks and weeds in open, shallow water near shore as she emits a long, gelatinous ribbon of spawn. In this manner, the semibuoyant, adhesive egg mass is woven among the weeds and brush. Males, as many as a dozen, follow the female and fertilize the eggs. Eggs may number from 10,000 to 48,000, depending on the size of the female. No parental care is given to the eggs, which hatch in approximately 3 weeks. Schools of young perch feed on zooplankton. Young perch are slow swimmers, and the schools provide abundant forage for walleye, older yellow perch, and most other predacious fish. Larger yellow perch become important competitors with more highly valued sport fishes in some lakes.
Although the yellow perch is not a fierce fighter when hooked, it is a popular panfish and good eating. Perch seldom reach large sizes, the average being l/4 to 3/4-pound fish of 6 to 10 inches. Easily caught on natural bait, flies, and small spinners, they are often the mainstay of ice fishermen using jigs and small minnows. In addition, the yellow perch ranks right along with the various sunfishes as being the impatient young angler's old standby.
Distribution of yellow perch in NY state. Dark dots represent where actual samples of yellow perch were taken. White dots represent historic distributions.
An image of the yellow perch is also available for download.