Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Similarities And Differences Among New York's Perch

Similiarities and differences among New York's perch species
Species Description Habitat Reproduction Feeding Fishing Information Comments
Yellow Perch 6-12" long

Yellow to yellow green with 5-9 vertical black bars on sides

No distinct canine teeth

Clearer waters of ponds, lakes and reservoirs with muck, sand or gravel

Most abundant in open water with moderate vegetation, but sometimes found in streams
Spawns in early spring (April-May)

Migrate into shallow, weedy areas

Deposit long (up to 7") strings of eggs over vegetation during the night and early morning
Eats aquatic insects, crayfish and fish

Feeds mostly in morning and evening
Popular year-round sportfish-esp. for ice-fishermen

Fish along weedbeds and drop-offs with minnows, worms, grubs and a variety of small lures
Very common - found in many waters throughout New York State
Walleye 10-25" long

Brownish yellow to greyish yellow (occ. blue-grey) - no dark vertical bars on sides

Large canine teeth

Resembles sauger, but has dark spot on bottom rear of first dorsal (back) fin
Prefers large, shallow turbid lakes but also present in large streams and rivers

Found near bottom in deeper water

Will move into shallow water at night
Spawns at night in early spring (March-April) just after ice-out

Scatters eggs over gravel bars in streams and shoals in lakes
Young eat aquatic insects and crayfish

Adults prefer fish
Popular sportfish in smaller waters - stillfish with worms, minnows, leeches, jibs, spinners, spoons and plugs

For larger waters - try drifting or trolling

Also, in spring and fall cast minnow imitating plugs along rocky points, shoals and weedbeds after dark
Largest member of the perch family

Found in many New York waters

Are most active at night
Sauger 10-18" long

Brownish grey with yellow and 3-4 saddle shaped blotches

Large canine teeth

Resembles walleye, but no dark spot on dorsal fin
Deeper waters of lakes, reservoirs and large rivers Spawns late spring (May-early June) - later than walleye

Scatters eggs over rocky bottom

Similar to walleye

Young eat aquatic insects and crayfish

Adults prefer fish
Use same methods listed for walleye Limited distribution in New York State

Found only in Lake Champlain system
Darters 2-5" long

Color highly variable

Small teeth

Air bladder reduced or absent (well defined in other perch)
Variety of habitats including lakes, ponds and streams

Most species adapted for stream life and prefer good quality water with low turbidity and some current
Each species have their own specific ritual

All species have elaborate spawning behaviors with breeding males displaying bright colors

Eggs are individually placed

Male guards eggs and young
Feed on bottom

Eat aquatic insects and crustaceans
Not actively pursued by anglers because of small size May species of darters that live in New York waters are sensitive to changes in habitat. Therefore distributions of some species have been reduced.