The Perch

About the perch

The fish we refer to in Britain as the ‘perch’ is the European perch that carries the Latin scientific name Perca fluviatilis. It is part of the Percidae family of fish that includes the walleye and largemouth bass found in America. The USA is also home to a very close relative of our perch called the ‘Yellow Perch’ (Perca flavescens). Our perch is found throughout Northern Europe and Russia, as well as into Siberia. It is not indigenous to Greece, Italy and Spain but it has been introduced on a small scale into these countries. It has also been artificially introduced to south-eastern Australia, New Zealand and parts of South Africa.

The perch is unmistakable in appearance. It wears a “rugby shirt” of bold black stripes. The pelvic and anal fins on the underside of the body are vivid orangey-red….they are flames of colours. Colour intensity varies depending on the turbidity of the water. In clear water, the perch’s colours are at their most vivid, whereas perch from heaviliy coloured waters take on a more washed out appearance.

On the back of the fish is a spiky dorsal fin. The spikes are not venomous but they can prick the skin if the perch is not handled carefully. There are also flattened spikes on each gill cover and there are even small spikes on the scales so that when you pick up a perch it feels decidedly rough unlike the slippery feel of other fish.

The perch is, like most of its close relatives, a freshwater visual predator. The perch has large eyes that give a clue to it’s predatory nature and also indicate that it is adapted to feeding in low light or murky conditions.

The Perch
Dick Walker

About the perch
Dick Walker with a 4lb perch
from Arlesey Lake
Taken from “The Biggest Fish of All”

British Record Perch
(above 5lb)

  • 6lb 3oz 2011, Neill Stephen, Stream Valley Lakes, Sussex
  • 6lb 3oz, 2012, Ken Brown, Wilstone Reservoir, Herts
  • 5lb 15oz, 2006, Les Brown, Stillwater, Crowborough, Sussex
  • 5lb 9oz 8dm, 2002, Dean Rawlings, Glebe Lake, Fringford, Oxfordshire
  • 5lb 9oz, 1985, John Shayler, Furnace Pond, Kent


Right – Perchfishers’ member Ken Brown with his record-equalling 6lb 3oz perch from Tring

It is found in lakes, rivers and brackish estuaries. The fry feed on small planktonic organisms, with older perch feeding on larger and bottom-dwelling invertebrates. Depending on the rate of growth, perch in the 4 to 6 year range start feeding on fish, at which point growth becomes more rapid due to the much higher protein content in this fish-based diet. Perch are thought to be heavily cannibalistic, treating their own offspring like any other readily available meal!
Perch fishing has been through an amazing revolution in recent years. The small, greedy perch that delighted us all as new anglers has, in recent years, transformed into a muscular, aggressive giant whose prickly heart-stopped beauty is enjoyed by many.

Hunting big perch came to the fore with Dick Walker’s exploits on Arlesey Lake, to be followed by specimens from Oulton Broad and Bewl water. The ‘sixties’ saw a massive decline in perch as the ‘perch disease’ decimated our species across the country.

By the mid-eighties, big perch were once again on the prowl. At Furnace Pond, John Shayler and others caught many huge perch including John’s now deposed record fish of 5lb 9oz – a record perch caught by design – still a rarity to this day! The current perch record stands at 6lb 3oz, shared by Neill Stephen with a fish from Stream Valley Lake E in March 2011 and Ken Brown’s Tring fish taken on 18th September 2011.

Ken Brown Perch Photo