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Know It: "Perch" are not Perch
I love fishing with people of all kinds but one thing I hear time and again that makes me cringe is “perch”. Perch is misused 9 out of 10 times and if you’re not in the north its 10 out of 10. Its a common name thrown to some of the feisty little guys from the water that are known for stealing bait and catching big fish. I want to help anglers (including myself) and a BIG part of that is good information.
There is a true perch and if you’re interested you can read about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perch They are fun to catch but are NOT the same fish that people south of the mason-dixon commonly call “perch”. Unfortunately the ignorance has been passed down for generations and is so ingrained in fishing culture that I do not kid myself that I will correct it here.
You will commonly hear people taking their kids to fish for “perch” or that they make good bait or “all i caught is a couple perch” or “the perch kept stealing my bait”. NOT PERCH. The fish commonly called “perch” unless caught in cold water, is most definitely a variety of sunfish. The sunfish family is large and you may not know it but the beloved black bass is indeed a member. But what we’re talking about here are the little guys; bluegill, pumpkinseeds, green sunfish, redear sunfish etc. To be honest, i don’t know them all and can’t distinguish them with great certainty, but can distinguish that these little fish are NOT perch.
These sunfish are what got me hooked on fishing as a kid. Find a dock, and drop a bobber and a small hook with a bit of worm and you can entertain a kid (or yourself) for hours. Put them on a hook and drop them in the river or lake and you may find yourself a large bass or catfish (maybe walleye?) that finds them tasty.
No need to correct people, but know in your mind that you’re not catching perch. Teach your kids the difference. It gives these mighty little creatures some dignity which they deserve to call them by the right name. I happen to think they are some of the prettiest fish caught in fresh water.
The Warmwater Gamefish Chart identifies nine below but notes that there are more than 30 members! Top picture is, I believe, a Pumkinseed.