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.


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


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. They are usually found near the shoreline among bay grass beds, which provide food and shelter.

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.

Did You Know?

  • Yellow perch are relatively poor swimmers, because they are not able to accelerate quickly.
  • These fish used to be abundant, but populations have declined because of pollution in the freshwater streams where they spawn.
  • Yellow perch are a popular recreational catch. Anglers sometimes refer to yellow perch as jumbo perch or jack perch.

Sources and Additional Information