The White Perch is an important sport and game fish. They will live in rivers and lakes even though they prefer the low-salinity estuaries. They are a semi-anadromous and will migrate from the brackish estuaries where they spend most of their time to the freshwater of rivers in the spring to spawn. White perch spend their entire lives in the Bay and its tidal tributaries. They tend to inhabit open waters close to shore, but also frequent quiet streams well up into the tributaries. They overwinter in deeper channel areas. The white perch is variable in coloration, ranging from pale olive or silvery green on the sides and silvery white on the belly.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
White Perch fish identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
The white perch, Morone americana, also known as sea perch, stiffback, silver perch, bay perch, blue-nosed perch, grey perch, black perch, gatte is not a true perch, is a fish of the temperate bass family Moronidae. They are native to the Atlantic coast region of North America. White perch range from Nova Scotia to South Carolina, but are most abundant from the Hudson River to Chesapeake Bay. They are found in all the Great Lakes and in inland waters in Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Ohio.
The white perch resembles its larger relative, the striped bass, in the number, outline, and arrangement of its fins, and in its deep caudal peduncle without longitudinal keels. But it is a deeper bodied fish, (only about 2˝ to 3 times as long as deep, not counting the caudal fin); and it is more flattened sidewise. The dorsal profile of its body is more convex than that of a bass, but its head is rather noticeably concave and its mouth is smaller. Furthermore, there is no free space between the two dorsal fins of the white perch, whereas they are separated by a short interspace in the striped bass. The perch has fewer rows of scales between gill cover and base of tail than the bass (about 48 in the white perch, 60 or more in the striped bass), and its anal spines are much stouter than those of the bass with the second and third about equal in length (graduated in the bass); also it usually has only one spine (sometimes two) at the margin of the gill cover. Finally, there is a constant difference in color.
The first dorsal fin (9 spines) of the perch is rounded in outline with its third and fourth spines longest, and although there is no free space between the two dorsal fins they are entirely separated by a deep notch. The second dorsal fin (1 spine and 12 rays) is rhomboid in outline and so short that it leaves a rather long caudal peduncle bare. The anal fin (8 to 10 rays preceded by 3 stout spines) originates under the middle of the second dorsal and is of the same shape as the latter. The ventrals originate a little way behind the pectorals and each ventral is armed with one stout spine at its forward margin. Both the pectorals and the ventrals of the perch are larger, in comparison with the size of the fish, than those of the striped bass. The white perch can be distinguished by their silvery color and irregular dark longitudinal lines that run all along its body. They have small teeth and a lower jaw that projects slightly.
The upper surface is variously olive, dark grayish green, or dark silvery gray, shading to paler olive or silvery green on the sides and to silvery white on the belly, while large fish often show a bluish luster on the head. The fins often are more or less dusky. The ventral fins and the anal fin are sometimes rose-colored at the base. The sides of young specimens are marked with pale longitudinal stripes but these usually fade out with growth.
Oblong, moderately compressed, back elevated; back greenish gray or nearly black; sides paler, sometimes with indistinct stripes; belly whitish. Head depressed between eyes; lower jaw slightly projecting, maxilla reaches eye; teeth small, in bands on jaw, vomer, and palatine bones, not on base of tongue; 2 preopercular spines. Dorsal fins barely connected, first with 8-10 strong spines. Scales extend onto base of median fins and head.
Differences between white perch and white bass:
White perch have Spiny and soft dorsal fin connected. Both fins will pop-up when the spiny dorsal is erected, 3 hard anal fin spines-1 short, 2 long.
White Bass have Spiny and soft dorsal fin not connected, 3 hard anal fin spines-1 short, 1 medium, 1 long.
The white perch is much more closely restricted in its seaward range than the bass, for while they are taken in undiluted sea water along southern New England, and at various other localities thence westward and southward, they are much more plentiful in ponds connected with the sea, in the brackish water of bays behind barrier beaches, in estuaries, and in river mouths. White perch also occur landlocked in fresh-water ponds in many places.
They are ordinarily found in shallow water, usually not deeper than perhaps a fathom or two, but sometimes as deep as 10-21 fathoms in Chesapeake Bay. However, they are not bottom fish (except in winter), but wander from place to place in small schools. Apart from this, they are resident throughout the year wherever found. In winter they congregate in the deeper parts of the bays and creeks, where they either hibernate, or at least pass the cold season in a sluggish condition.
When living in salt or brackish water white perch feed on small fish fry of all kinds, young squid, shrimps, crabs, and various other invertebrates, as well as on the spawn of other fish, of which they are very destructive. Swarms of young perch, for instance, have been seen following the alewives around the shores of ponds on Marthas Vineyard, eating their spawn as it was deposited. White perch are bottom-oriented fish and predaceous carnivores whose diet consists of crabs, shrimp, and small fishes. Juveniles feed on aquatic insects and small crustaceans. White perch have been found to eat the eggs of walleye, white bass, other white perch and possibly other species as well. Fish eggs apparently are an important component of the diet of white perch in the spring months. At times, depending on which fish is spawning, the eggs of either walleye or white bass comprise 100% of the white perch’s diet.
Along southern New England the white perch spawn in April, May, and June. Presumably the season commences a few weeks later around the Gulf of Maine, but definite data are lacking. Those living in salt water run up into fresh or slightly brackish water to spawn. The eggs (about 0.73 mm. in diameter, with large oil globule) sink and stick together in masses, or to any object on which they chance to rest. Incubation occupies about 6 days at a temperature of 52°. The newly hatched larvae are about 2.3 mm. long with the vent some distance behind the yolk sac and with very little pigment. In five or six days after hatching the head begins to project forward, the yolk sac has been partly absorbed and branched pigment cells have appeared on the oil globule.
White perch spawn from April through June in fresh to low-salinity waters of large rivers over fine gravel or sand. Males are usually mature by age 2 and females, by age 3. Females produce from 50,000 - 150,000 eggs and do not release them all at once; ovulation may occur over a period of 10-21 days. Individual females are surrounded by several males and eggs and sperm are spread randomly. Eggs are generally demersal and attached in still water, but are pelagic in free-flowing streams and tidal waters. Eggs usually hatch from 1 to 6 days after fertilization. Juveniles use inshore areas of estuaries and creeks downstream of their spawning area during the first summer and fall. Adults tend to inhabit open waters close to shore, but may also frequent quiet streams well up into the tributaries from March - November. During the winter months, they can be found in downstream portions of the tributaries and deeper channel areas throughout the Bay. These fish typically live 9-10 years.
Fishing Methods for the White Perch are: Bait casting and Still fishing. White perch are considered a delectable game fish. White perch could be taken in nearly all types of fishing gear typically used on the Bay. White perch are available to anglers from shore and from boats because they are widely distributed among a variety of habitats, including inshore waters. Catches are greatest during the spring spawning season and from September through November.
White perch prefer the brackish waters that you will find in bays, rivers and creeks. It is best to use small bait when fishing for white perch. The best baits to use are bloodworms, shrimp, minnows, earthworms and so forth. Use small pieces of bait when fishing for white perch or you may lose your bait to a sneaky fish. You can also use artificial lures and flies to fish for white perch. The shiny lures will usually get you the best results so spoons and metallic plastic minnows are always a great choice.
Live bait such as minnows, grass shrimp and blood worms, plus artificials such as small spinnerbaits and jigs. Fish near structure such as old wharves, pilings, and sunken logs, on a falling tide, which moves baitfish and shrimp out of cover.