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Yellow Perch

Yellow Perch


The sides are bright yellow to brassy-green, with seven dark, vertical bars. The belly is lighter, and the back is a dark olive-green. There are no canine teeth on the jaws or roof of the mouth. The dorsal fin has 12 to 13 soft rays and 7 or 8 rays in the anal fin. Scales in the lateral line range from 57 to 62. The cheeks are covered with 8 to 10 rows of extended scales. The somewhat hump-backed look of the fish is due to the head being slightly concave above the eyes.


Yellow Perch Distribution

Statewide, greatest abundance in natural lakes


Small fish, aquatic insects, small crayfish, and snails

State Record

2.79 pounds - Private Pond, Dickinson County, February 2019 - Royce Krummen, Lake Park, Iowa

Expert Tip

Yellow Perch are fun to catch through the ice and tasty, too; use ice jigs with plenty of flash.


Yellow Perch are rarely found in large numbers in flowing water with the exception of the Mississippi River, where it is common in some places. They are also found in some man-made recreational lakes and river impoundments in southern Iowa, but seldom approach the abundance found in natural lakes. 

Although Yellow Perch are found in ponds, slow-moving streams and rivers, especially in holes around the bends, it is primarily a lake fish, preferring clear, cool water. The large fish usually prefer the deeper regions of lakes, leaving the shorelines to smaller individuals.

Spawning takes place near shore in early spring at water temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees. Large schools may spawn in the shallows of small embayments. They do not build nests; instead the long, flat, ribbon-like masses of eggs are deposited over sand bars, submerged vegetation or brush, and other material on the bottom. Each gravid female may be followed by 15 to 25 males, fertilizing the eggs as they are released. Females, depending on their body size, may produce 10,000 to 40,000 eggs. The eggs swell after fertilization, the ribbon-like masses become up to 8 feet long. There is no parental care, and many egg masses are eaten by other fish, washed up on shore or stranded by low water. Depending on water temperature, 12 to 21 days are usually needed for incubation.

Young perch school in or near weedy areas where food, such as cladocerns or insect larvae, is abundant. They are slow swimmers when young and must depend on aquatic plants for cover protection. Heavy predation from most fish-eating fish and birds is common. They are a valuable forage fish for Walleye, Northern Pike and Muskellunge in many Iowa lakes and to a more limited degree Largemouth Bass in some man-made lakes.

Yellow Perch feed throughout the day in deep water, but often move into the shallows during evening to feed on schools of minnows. Midge fly larvae and both the immature and adult stages of mayflies often comprise a large part of their diet.

Growth rates and maximum sizes of the Yellow Perch vary from year-to-year and lake-to-lake, depending primarily on food availability. Average length in Iowa natural lakes for perch from age 1 through age 7 is 2.7, 5.6, 7.7, 8.9, 9.8, 10.5 and 10.6-inches.

The world record Yellow Perch has been a difficult record to top. It was taken in 1865 from Cross Wicks Creek, New Jersey, and weighed an incredible 4 pounds, 3 ounces.

Recent stream sampling information is available from Iowa DNR's biological monitoring and assessment program.


Present in these Iowa water bodies:

Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Pool 9, Mississippi River Allamakee River Mile 647.9 at Lynxville, WI upstream to River Mile 679.2 at Genoa WI. 35169.00
Pool 19, Mississippi River Lee Amenities listed are at City of Ft. Madison boat ramp. Amenities vary by location in Pool 19 33500.00
Pool 11, Mississippi River Dubuque River Mile 583 at Dubuque, IA upstream to River Mile 615 at Guttenberg, IA. 19875.00
Pool 18, Mississippi River Louisa Amenities listed are for the Toolsboro Ramp. The ramp at Toolsboro is paved but the road to the ramp is gravel. There is some shore fishing along the parking area and at the outlet of Lake Odessa. Amenities vary by location in pool 18 13300.00
Pool 16, Mississippi River Scott The amenities list are for Buffalo Shores campground in Buffalo, Iowa. Amenities at other locations in Pool 16 vary by location. 13000.00
Pool 12, Mississippi River Jackson Between Dubuque and Bellevue, Iowa 12349.00
Pool 17, Mississippi River Muscatine Amenities list for Muscatine City Ramp. This ramp is located in downtown Muscatine. Amenities vary by location in Pool 17. 7580.00
Spirit Lake Dickinson One mile North of Spirit Lake 5684.00
West Okoboji Lake Dickinson northwest edge of Arnolds Park 3847.00
Clear Lake Cerro Gordo south edge of Clear Lake 3684.00
Storm Lake (incl Little Storm Lake) Buena Vista south edge of Storm Lake 3097.00
Tuttle Lake Emmet 1 mile east, 2 miles north of Dolliver 2268.00
East Okoboji Lake Dickinson east edge of Okoboji 1835.00
Trumbull Lake Clay 4 miles west, 5 miles north of Ruthven 1183.00
Lost Island Lake Palo Alto 3 miles north of Ruthven 1162.00
Silver Lake (Dickinson) Dickinson west edge of Lake Park 1065.00
Rice Lake Winnebago 1 mile south, 1 mile east of Lake Mills 1000.00
Five Island Lake Palo Alto north edge of Emmetsburg 973.00
Black Hawk Lake Sac east edge of Lake View 922.00
Three Mile Lake Union 3 miles northwest of Afton 880.00
West Swan Lake S.W.M.A. Emmet 3m SE Gruver 830.00
Big Creek Lake Polk 2 miles north of Polk City 814.00
Iowa Lake (Emmet Co.) Emmet 6 miles north of Armstrong 802.00
Big Lake (Lansing) Allamakee 3 m N Lansing 800.00
Brushy Creek Lake Webster 5 miles east of Lehigh 690.00
Lake Icaria Adams 4 miles north of Corning 648.00
Silver Lake (Palo Alto) Palo Alto 2 miles west of Ayrshire 648.00
Twelve Mile Creek Lake Union 4 miles east of Creston 635.00
Little Spirit Lake Dickinson 4 miles north of Orleans 604.00
High Lake Emmet 6 miles east of Wallingford 467.00
Elm Lake Wright 5 miles Northeast of Clarion 458.00
Pleasant Creek Lake Linn 4 miles North of Palo 400.00
Swan Lake Dickinson 2m N Superior 371.00
Little Swan Lake Dickinson 371.00
Ingham Lake Emmet 6 miles east of Wallingford 357.00
Silver Lake (Worth) Worth 10 miles west, 3 1/2 miles north of Northwood 316.00
Lizard Lake Pocahontas 275.00
Elk Lake Clay 1 mile west, 3 miles south of Ruthven 261.00
Little Wall Lake Hamilton 1 1/2 miles south of Jewell 249.00
Lake Cornelia Wright 3 1/2 miles north, 2 miles east of Clarion 243.00
Bussey Lake Clayton 2 m N Guttenberg 240.00
Summit Lake Union West edge of Creston 230.00
Virgin Lake Palo Alto 2 miles south of Ruthven 222.00
Center Lake Dickinson 2 miles west, 1/2 miles south of Spirit Lake 220.00
Dale Maffitt Reservoir Polk 6m SW Des Moines 200.00
Marble Lake Dickinson 4 miles North of Spirit Lake 173.00
Diamond Lake Dickinson 2 miles east, 2 miles north of Montgomery 143.00
Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake Story North side of Ames, west of Grand Avenue/Highway 69. 137.00
Volga Lake Fayette Located 3 miles north of Fayette. 135.00
Norwegian Lake Clayton 130.00
Minnewashta Lake Dickinson 1/2 mile south of Arnolds Park 118.00
Iowa Lake (Osceola Co.) Osceola 116.00
Silver Lake Marsh Worth 109.00
Sand Lake Marshall On the Northeast edge of Marshalltown 95.00
Morse Lake Wright 3 1/2 miles west of Belmond 90.00
Big Sioux Recreation Area Sioux 65.00
Cedar River (above Nashua) Floyd This stretch is found in Chickasaw, Floyd, and Mitchell Counties. A popular multi-use location is the Charles City Whitewater Park in downtown Charles City on Hwy 14. 63.00
Crawford Creek Impoundment Ida 3 1/2 miles south of Battle Creek 62.00
Briggs Woods Lake Hamilton 2 miles south of Webster City 59.00
Shell Rock River (above Greene) Floyd Located in Worth, Cerro Gordo, and Floyd Counties. A popular access point is Wilkinson Pioneer Park located at the end of CR B20 in Rock Falls. This park is the start of the Shellrock River Greenbelt and Preserve featuring 7.5 mi. of scenic bluffs. 58.00
Lake Hendricks Howard Located 0.5 miles northeast of Riceville. 47.40
Fogle Lake S.W.A. Ringgold ½ mile west of Diagonal 44.00
Bluebill Lake Cerro Gordo 4 miles Southeast of Clear Lake 40.00
Casey Lake (aka Hickory Hills Lake) Black Hawk 12 miles south of Waterloo 37.60
Upper Gar Lake Dickinson east of Arnolds Park 36.00
Lake Meyer Winneshiek Located 2.5 miles southwest of Calmar on 2546 Lake Meyer Road. Managed by the Winneshiek County Conservation Board. Questions about day use and camping should be directed to WCCB at 563-534-7145. 33.30
Arrowhead Lake Sac south side of Lake View 31.00
Gimmel Lake Allamakee 28.00
Interstate Park Lake Franklin 1 mile west, 2 mile south of I-35 & Hwy 3 20.00
Dakins Lake Story 2m NE Zearing 20.00
Green Belt Lake Black Hawk W edge Waterloo 19.00
Lake Petocka Polk northeast edge of Bondurant 19.00
Dickcissell Lake Boone 4m E Boone 13.00
Ocheyedan Pit #1 Osceola 2 miles south of Ocheyedan 10.00
Scharnberg Pond Clay 3m E Everly 10.00
Crystal Lake Sediment Pond Hancock Off the northeast corner of Crystal Lake. 9.60
Airport Lake Chickasaw Located 2 miles northwest of New Hampton. 9.00
Schmerse W.A. Pond Clay 7.00
Douma Area Pond O'Brien 2 miles west, 1 mile south of Sanborn 7.00
Ringneck Haven Chickasaw Located 1.5 miles north and 1 mile west of North Washington. 6.00
Twin Ponds Chickasaw Located 2 miles south and 3 miles east of Ionia off of County Road B54 and River Rd. 6.00
Chautauqua Park Pond Polk Located on the East side of SW White Birch Dr., Ankeny 4.80
Fife's Grove Park Pond Ringgold 1 mile north of Mount Ayr 1.00
Hickory Glen North Polk 0.50