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Yellow Perch: A Familiar Friend

Updated: Mar 13

Yellow perch (Perca flavescens)

Growing up in the Lake Champlain Islands, some of my fondest winter memories were of going ice fishing with my dad. There was little that could compare to the anticipation of waiting for my fishing rod to bend, or for the bright orange of a tip-up flag to fly into the air. We had some exciting catches, like the northern pike that was nearly as long as I was tall at 8 years old. I still remember being in total awe that something of that size could possibly be lurking in our lake. However, there was one fish that made an appearance at the end our line more than any other. It became such a familiar sight that in my mind, it's become synonymous with memories of ice fishing.

A tip up with the signature orange flag
A tip up with the signature orange flag

The yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is a small schooling fish native to lakes, rivers and ponds throughout Vermont. Some of its distinguishing features include golden coloring with 6-8 dark vertical bars running the length of its body, along with orange fins on its underside. They can grow to over 12 inches in length, with the current state record being held at 16 inches and weighing in at 2 pounds 6 ounces. Their preferred habitat is one that offers significant cover. Natural or restores shorelines with features such as sunken trees and overhanging branches are often desirable locations for perch and can have the added benefit of reducing shoreline erosion.

A Great Blue Heron dining on a yellow perch

Along with being a valued sportfish, yellow perch play a vital role in Vermont's aquatic ecosystems. They're an important prey item for other fish species, including northern pike, walleye, and bass. A number of birds and mammals, such as herons and river otters also rely on perch as a food source. Though perch populations in Lake Champlain are currently stable, it's still important that we look ahead at what issues may face this species in the future. By adhering to the State of Vermont's current fishing regulations and helping to preserve and restore natural shorelines, we can help ensure that future generations will also get to enjoy the memories of catching a yellow perch.


Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. (n.d.). Sportfish of Vermont: Yellow Perch.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. (n.d.). Vermont Critters: Yellow Perch.


Lupo, S. (2016). Menu Du Jour. [Photograph].

Brown, B. (2011). Ice Fishing. [Photograph]. Flickr.

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