Perch (Perca fluviatilis)

The perch is a handsome fish, with striking looks well suited to its predatory life. Its flanks are an olive-green with six or seven black stripes, camouflaging it among weeds and reeds. The tail is rather small, so it is not a high-speed swimmer, but it can cruise at quite a high speed for long periods.


Perch prefer slow moving or still waters with a good head of small prey species. Good visibility is essential for their style of hunting and so they do best in clear water. They can also survive in relatively fast-flowing rivers if there is not too much suspended silt making the water cloudy.

Feeding habits

Perch are hunters, preying on other species. The fry feed on water fleas and other tiny crustaceans but they soon graduate to insect larvae such as bloodworms. If small enough fish are available, perch switch to a mainly fish diet when they weigh about 113g (4oz). Young perch hunt in schools, lying in wait among water plants until small fish such as bleak or roach stray too close. The school then sets off in pursuit, harrying the quarry until it is too tired to swim further. Perch catch their prey by biting the tail repeatedly from behind and below to restrict swimming. Characteristically the perch always captures and swallows its prey tail first.

Fish facts

Weight: Up to 3.2kg (7lb)
Average Length: Up to 50cm (20in)
Life-span: 13 years
Favourite waters: Reservoirs and slow-flowing rivers, Some canals
Favourite baits: Worms, maggots, casters, small spinners/ lures
UK Record: 5lbs 9oz (J Shayler 1985)