Key Distinguishing Markings:
- These fish are silvery and frequently have irregular dusky longitudinal lines along its body.
- They have a slightly projecting lower jaw and small teeth.
- Their dorsal fins are separate and their anal fin possesses three strong spines.
- White perch may reach a mature length of 19 inches but are more commonly found around 7 to 10 inches, weighing from 8 ounces to 1 pound.
- White perch range from Nova Scotia to South Carolina, but are most abundant from the Hudson River to Chesapeake Bay.
- White perch are also well established in Maryland's larger Reservoirs: Liberty, Loch Raven, Prettyboy, Tridelphia, and Rocky Gorge.
- White perch are semi-anadromous members of the family, Moronidae, that migrate to tidal fresh and slightly brackish waters each spring to spawn.
- 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 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.
- White perch are an important recreational species, especially in the upper Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.
- White perch are considered a delectable game fish.
- White perch are 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.
- For current recreational size and creel limits, see Maryland's updated regulation page.
- They are one of the most abundant fish in Chesapeake Bay and will spend their entire lives here.
- White perch are closely related to striped bass.
- The largest white perch caught in Maryland's portion of Chesapeake Bay weighed 2.6 pounds.
- The oldest white perch in Maryland's portion of Chesapeake Bay was fifteen.
Family: Moronidae (Temperate basses)
Order: Perciformes (perch-likes)
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Illustration courtesy of Duane Raver, USFWS