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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.
Statewide, greatest abundance in natural lakes
Small fish, aquatic insects, small crayfish, and snails
2.79 pounds - Private Pond, Dickinson County, February 2019 - Royce Krummen, Lake Park, Iowa
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.