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Perca flavescens The body of the
yellow perch is oblong, somewhat compressed, and rough to the
touch because of the ctenoid scales. The name, Perca
flavescens, is descriptive of the body coloration. Perca is an
ancient name meaning dusky, and flavescens, yellowish. Generally
speaking, the coloration conforms to the
defiition; the back of the yellow perch is olivaceous, varying
to greenish, and golden yellow on the sides, with six to eight
dusky crossbars running from the back to below the middle of the
sides; the belly is whitish or yellowish; the upper fins are
dusky and separated; the pectoral fins are light in colour, and
the pelvics pale bright orange, especially in the spring. There
are numerous line teeth in the jaws but no canines. This serves
to distinguish the perch from the young walleye which is the
only fish it resembles.
Yellow perch are commonly found in northern and northeastern
North America from the Hudson Bay drainage south to Kansas and
the northern portions of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, to
western Pennsylvania, and in coastwise streams from Nova Scotia
to South Carolina. They are commonly found in the Great Lakes
drainage, and have been introduced to waters beyond their
original range and, unwittingly, to many trout waters in
Ontario, to the detriment of the trout.
Perch prefer lakes, ponds and sluggish streams; they are seldom
found in strong currents. They are most numerous where there are
expanses of open water, moderate amounts of vegetation and
moderate fertility. Turbidity and siltation have been
responsible for decreases in their numbers but, apparently, they
are more tolerant of oxygen deficiency under the ice in winter
than bluegills, smallmouth and largemouth bass and walleyes.
They often occur in large numbers, swimming in loose schools.
They are essentially a lake fish although they may leave lakes
and ascend streams in spring They prefer a temperature of about
70°F. and, as the temperature exceeds the preferred temperature,
they seek deeper, cooler water. During the summer, they are most
often associated with the cool water of the upper part of the
thermocline At Lake Simcoe, they are known to frequent shallow
water during the winter.
Sexual maturity may be reached at two years. Spawning takes
place in sheltered areas, usually at night during April and May,
in five to ten feet of water. In Lake Simcoe, they migrate up
large rivers to spawn. The spawning period often coincides with
that of the sucker and follows that of the walleye.
Zigzag, gelatinous strings of eggs which the
male fertilizes as they appear, are deposited freely in the
water. The spawn 'often becomes attached to aquatic vegetation
or submerged brush on sand, gravel or rubble bottom. The time
between the depositing of the spawn and hatching is twelve to
twenty-one days at a temperature of 45°F. to 50°F