Yellow perch will never win any high-ranking awards for fighting ability, but they're one of the most geographically widespread and commonly caught ice-fishing species. They're also cooperative, willing winter biters, and one of the most delectable species in terms of table fare.
Yellow perch are a remarkably beautiful fish, with golden-green or grayish-brown sides accented with dark green vertical bars and bright orange or crimson-colored fins, a yellowish-white belly, and a forked tail. Yellow perch have small eyes, resulting in limited vision.
As one of the most active winter species, perch feed heavily on almost any available prey including plankton, insect larvae, crustaceans and small fish.
Habitat and Feeding Patterns
Yellow perch are a heavily schooling species that do especially well in clear, cool waters featuring hard bottoms and moderate weed growth. Shallow, vegetated bays, flats, points and humps are primary targets early and late in the season, with deep weedlines, mud flats and rocky structures producing better mid-season. Perch may flourish in shallow, densely vegetated soft-bottomed waters where they hide and feed in dense vegetation, but they also tend to overpopulate and stunt in such environments.
Most perch schools are comprised of similarly sized fish, and although winter schools are known to suspend, most feed on or near bottom. Ice anglers checking stomach contents have also noted small perch feed primarily on plankton and insect larvae, while larger fish appear to rely more on crustaceans and small minnows.
Yellow perch feed all winter, but are most likely to be caught in shallow water during first and last ice; deeper during mid-season. Due to their relatively small eyes and poor night vision, most intense feeding periods occur during the day.