Freshwater Fish - Species

Yellow Perch - Click to enlarge photo

Species Specific Regulations

Yellow perch

Freshwater Fishing License required.

Complete fishing regulations

Guide to Freshwater Fishes

Guide to Freshwater Fishes
(Adobe PDF - 3MB)

Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) - Native

Description: (Anatomy of a Fish)

The yellow perch is yellow in color with most individuals having six to nine black vertical bars that run along the side of the fish.  Pelvic and anal fins can range from red to yellow-orange in color.  A dark spot is found on the base of the spiny dorsal fin.  The mouth has small teeth. 

Range:  Statewide

Average Length:  5-8 inches

Average Size:  6-10 ounces

South Carolina State Record: 3 pounds 4 ounces (1979)

Life Expectancy: Approximately 21 years

Preferred Habitat

Yellow perch can be found in a variety of habitats from cool, clear waters to warm waters.  They occur in creeks, streams, rivers and reservoirs.  Yellow perch are tolerant of acidic waters and salinities up to about 12 percent. 

Food Habits

  • Aquatic insects, crayfish and fish


  • Yellow perch spawn from March to May in water temperatures of 45-55°F. 
  • Females, dependent upon size, can produce anywhere from 3,000 to 150,000 eggs. The female yellow perch has a single ovary that produces an accordion-like gelatinous ribbon of densely packed eggs.  This single ovary arrangement is unique among North American fishes. 
  • Spawning is a communal affair with up to 25 males pursuing a single female. 
  • The ribbon of eggs is deposited in and around vegetation and the submerged branches of trees.  Eggs hatch in two to three weeks. 


Yellow perch are considered to be fun, easy to catch and a joy to eat.  The flesh is firm and makes excellent table fare and is comparable to walleye in quality. 

Commonly Mistaken Species

One species of fish that is commonly mistaken for this species is

Literature Cited

Rohde, Fred C, Arndt, Rudolf G., Foltz, Jeffery W., Quattro, Joseph M. 2009. Freshwater Fishes of South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina.

Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. 2009. South Carolina Guide to Freshwater Fishes.

Fish Illustration by Duane Raver.