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Yellow Perch

Perca flavescens

Yellow perch have two separate dorsal fins: one spiny and one smooth. (Caranx latus/Flickr)
Yellow perch have two separate dorsal fins: one spiny and one smooth. (Caranx latus/Flickr)

The yellow perch is a bright yellow fish with dark, vertical bars on its sides. It lives year-round in the Chesapeake Bay’s rivers.

Appearance:

The yellow perch has an elongated, golden or greenish-yellow body with five to eight dark, vertical bands on its sides. It grows to 12 inches in length. Its fins are reddish-orange, with spawning males having more intensely colored fins. It has a forked tail fin and two separate dorsal fins: one spiny and one smooth.

Habitat:

Native to freshwater rivers and streams, has adapted to living in brackish waters. Usually found near the shoreline among bay grass beds, which provide food and shelter.

Range:

Common in most Chesapeake Bay rivers, often near the mouths of rivers. Migrates upriver in early spring to spawn in freshwater streams. Often travels in schools.

Feeding:

Yellow perch feed on insect larvae, crustaceans and small fish.

Predators:

Yellow perch is an important food source for freshwater predators. Herring gulls and diving ducks also prey upon yellow perch.

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

Spawning occurs in late February to March. The yellow perch is considered to be semi-anadromous, which means it lives in fresh or brackish rivers and spawns in small, shallow freshwater streams. The female lays long, gelatinous strands of amber-colored eggs, which stick to underwater vegetation, tree braches and other debris. After spawning, adults migrate back downstream. Females mature between 2 to 4 years old, while males mature about one year earlier. Yellow perch can live for 13 years.

Other Facts:

  • Yellow perch are relatively poor swimmers. They are not able to accelerate quickly.
  • Used to be abundant, but populations have declined because of pollution in the freshwater streams where it spawns
  • A popular recreational catch

Sources and Additional Information:




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