White Perch
Typical Size
6-8" (3-6 oz.)
Decent Size
8-10" (7-11 oz.)
Nice Size
10-12" (3/4-1 lb.)
17.9" (4 lbs. 12 oz.)
Awards Program
Qualifying Size

1-1/2 lbs.
Genus/Species Morone americana
Common Names silver perch, whitey, grey perch, blue-nose
Hot Spots Wampatuck Pond, Monponsett Pond, Green Harbor River
Best Time April-November
Best Baits spinners, jigs, small minnows
Best Method spinning

White perch actually are not true perch, but rather belong to the bass family Moronidae which also includes the White Bass, Yellow Bass and the larger Striped Bass. White perch look similar to juvenile striped bass but have more compressed bodies with a slight humpback appearance and no stripes. The back of the fish is the darkest with the sides being a pale silvery green, fading to a pale silvery white belly. Its two dorsal fins are not completely separated, but are deeply notched. Each of their ventral fins each are armed with one spine.

White Perch
In the fall, large white perch can be found in the rivers.
White perch live in a variety of habitats including lakes, ponds, rivers. They can be found in both salt and fresh water, but have a preference for brackish. White perch tend to school in large numbers, keeping to deep water during the day and moving inshore at night. Usually, white perch occupy the mid-level of the water column showing little preference for vegetation, structure or other shelter. Voracious feeders, white perch consume large quantities of fish eggs, aquatic insects, small crustaceans, and small fishes.

Indigineous to Massachusetts, the south shore boasts a healthy population of these fish. Although their natural range is the eastern seaboard from Nova Scotia to South Carolina, they have been introduced in other states as well, usually to the detriment of local species. White perch consume so many fish eggs that they can effectively take over an entire body of water if landlocked. By nature they are semi-anadromous, living in estuaries and rivers that empty into the ocean.

Spawning takes place in the spring in late April/early May near shore. There is little organization to their spawning - they do not have any fancy rituals, they do not build nests, they don't pair off, and they do not protect the eggs or young. Instead, the female randomly release a gelatinous mass of eggs in shallow water that adheres itself to the first thing it touches. Males in the area release milt around the eggs to fertilize them. Everybody leaves and miraculously an amazing amount of them hatch and manage to escape predators as well as their more protected counterparts in the fish world.

White perch are opportunistic feeders with voracious appetities. They'll eat almost anything so you can catch them with many different kinds of bait. The most popular live bait is probably the worm, however it also catches more juvenile fish. Since young white perch feed on smaller baits, earthworms, mealworms, crickets, and grass shrimp hooked on a simple worm and bobber rig or a perch bait rig work well. However, if you want larger white perch, small live minnows on a shiner bait rig designed for bass will work well. Chubs and silversides fished along the bottom also work for tidal and estuary white perch.

Personally, though, I find that the greatest numbers of white perch can be taken on artificial lures and it is a lot more fun. The best lure is the spinner. Easy to use, simply tie on a snap swivel to your main line and clip on a small Rooster Tail or Mepps spinner in the 1/16 to 1/8-ounce size and cast out. Immediately upon hitting the surface of the water start a moderate retrieve back to shore or boat. If there are white perch in the vicinity, they will hit it. Another great artificial lure to use for white perch are small marabou or curly tail jigs .

Fishing for white Perch is not that important to the recreational fishery here, but a considered very important off the New Jersey coast. Here on the south shore of Massachusetts, they are mainly by-catch. Stuck in the middle between gamefish and panfish, they are usually caught when either targeting sunfish or by anglers targeting yellow perch and pickerel. The flesh of the white perch has a delicate flavor and a white, flaky texture. Due to the current pollution levels in most our south shore ponds, I would not recommend consuming white perch caught in landlocked areas on the south shore. This species is not stocked and is self-sustaining throughout the south shore.