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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Yellow Perch - Perca flavescens

Non-native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status


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General Description
The yellow perch is a very familiar species to most fishermen. This fish was introduced into Montana and is found in abundance in many lakes and reservoirs located east and west of the Divide. Perch support one of the largest fisheries in Montana and are considered one of the best eating fish in the state. Because of their tendency to travel in schools, perch often can be caught in large numbers, which makes up for their relatively small size and difficulty in cleaning. Young yellow perch are important prey for several sport fish. Perch drape strings of gelatinous material with eggs embedded inside over substrate or vegetation. Perch foods are invertebrates and small fish.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Many small teeth but no canine teeth. Anal fin has two spines and 6 to 8 soft rays. Lower fins reddish orange in breeding males.

Species Range
Montana Range


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 3928

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

May move into tributary streams to spawn.

Prefers warm to cool clear lakes with vegetation and to a lesser extent, slow, weedy streams, but is adaptable. Usually spawns over aquatic vegetation but silt-free sand and gravel bars may be used.

Food Habits
Adults eat aquatic invertebrates and small fish. Young feed largely on zooplankton.

Travel in schools make up of fish of approximately the same size. Important forage fish. Populations often stunt.

Reproductive Characteristics
Sexually mature in 2 years. Spawns April-May at 45-50 degrees F. Incubation: 10-20 days. No parental care.

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Citation for data on this website:
Yellow Perch — Perca flavescens.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from