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Types of Perch Found in North American Waters

Perch fishing is a fun and easy way to catch fish that taste good. There are many different types of Perch in North America too, so you should be able to find them near you in both freshwater and saltwater sources.

Here we’ve covered the three main species of Perch that live in North America, as well as some of the less popular Perch species.

We’ve covered where you can find them and what they taste like, so you can decide if you want to fish for them or not.

The Four Types of Perch

  1. Yellow Perch
  2. White Perch
  3. Silver Perch
  4. Walleye

The Yellow Perch

Next up is the first actual Perch on this list, in that it belongs to the Percidae family. It is one of the more popular lake fish in both the US and Canada, the Yellow Perch.

Fresh Caught yellow perch on cutting board
Fresh Caught yellow perch on cutting board

Unlike White Perch, anglers have captured these by the hundreds when they’re found because of how desirable they are.

They’re considered panfish because they’re typically the perfect size to cook in a pan. They’re also abundant, being one of the most popular freshwater fish species in North America.

Why are they desirable? Mainly for how they taste and how they look. First, they’re the tastiest fish out of all the other fish mentioned here.

Yellow Perch look much more distinctive than the Silver or White variants mentioned above.

They have a yellow-colored underlayer, obviously, but then stripes of dark scales that make them look more exotic. Then their fins are larger and a deep, noticeable yellow.

The International Game Fish Association world record is 4 pounds and 3 ounces, which becomes more impressive when you understand that most Yellow Perch weigh much less than a pound.

If you catch a 12-ounce Yellow Perch, you’re doing very well, but keep your eye out for those rare larger specimens.

a single yellow perch

The world record is one of the oldest freshwater weights that were registered, dating all the way back to 1865, so nobody knows if it’s even possible for Yellow Perch to grow that big anymore in their natural habitats.

The White Perch

White Perch are everywhere, so we’d be surprised if you hadn’t encountered one already.


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This is because they’re the most adaptable fish on this page, occupying shallow saltwater sources all along the Eastern Seaboard and in all Great Lakes.

You can even find them in estuaries and rivers. Why are they so adaptable? They’re in the Temperate Bass family, so they migrate to freshwaters when they need to spawn.

Their scales are darker in appearance when compared to Silver Perch, despite their name, and they don’t get as big as the Striped Bass that they’re related to.

fisherman holding a white perch

The world record for how heavy White Perch can get is 3 pounds and 8 ounces, according to the International Game Fish Association, but most of them you’ll find will be 1 pound or less.

Like most other Bass, White Perch are known for being delicious. Their flesh is firm, white, and flaky like most popular eating fish, and they’re abundant and available because they aren’t at the top of every angler’s list.

This is because their distribution is different depending on where they are. In freshwater, there’ll either be a lot of them or none of them at all while in saltwater environments, there are always larger fish that taste better nearby.

If your local anglers are ignoring these, you can take advantage of that and grab some of these Perch for yourself.

The Silver Perch

Starting with the smallest Perch species, we have the Silver Perch. In some areas, they’re also known as the Sand Perch but they’re exactly the same.


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Silver Perch weigh less than half a pound or 450 grams, and they tend to max out at a foot long.

It should be noted that the International Game Fish Association hasn’t got a record for how large they can get.

a silver perch swimming

As the smallest fish on this page, they won’t put up much of a fight when they get hooked.

This makes them a great training fish for beginners, especially children since they can learn the basics of angling without having to contend with feisty fish.

Experienced anglers tend to leave them alone since they can get better fish elsewhere, and they’re also used as bait for Reds and Stripers.

a silver perch underwater

That doesn’t mean Silver Perch aren’t good enough to eat, however. If the specimen is big enough to properly fillet, keep it, throw it in your cooler, and try it for yourself.

But you have to find them first, so where would they be? Though they’re called Silver Perch, they’re a species of Drum that have many commonalities with Weakfish and Redfish.

person holding a silver perch

This means you’ll find them in shallow seagrasses, which you can find in inshore bays and tidal creeks where they’re undisturbed by predatory wildlife – except you, of course.

Other Kinds of Perch Like Walleye

Other fish belong to the Percidae family that you may want to look out for, so let’s take a look at them.

Walleye fish closeup held over the water

First, don’t bother with the so-called micro-Perch, they’re not big enough to be worth the time or effort to bring them in. Instead, you should focus on Sauger and Walleye.

They’re both technically Perch and anglers love them for freshwater eating, and they can be caught all year round. 

Chautauqua Lake walleye fishing

The two are closely related, so they look fairly similar. They have a pair of dorsal fins on long, darkly colored bodies, which can sometimes have a brassy, metallic coloring to them too. Walleyes are the lighter species, hence why they are called Yellow Pikes and Pickerels.

a man walleye fishing with lures

Anglers commonly look for Walleyes in rough water that gets them going while Saugers are in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs across the USA, especially in the regions west of the Appalachian Mountains.

Walleye though deserve their on sport fishing category so that is why we have given them special treatment.  Check out all our walleye articles at this link:

With that, you’ve now learned about three true Perch and two other Perch that you should keep an eye out for at your local fishing haunt. See how many you can find!

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