Biology: The spawning biology of yellow perch (Perca flavescens) is a fascinating process that plays a crucial role in their life cycle. Typically occurring in the spring, usually between April and May, the exact timing depends on water temperature and environmental conditions. When the water temperature reaches around 45 to 52 degrees Fahrenheit (7 to 12 degrees Celsius), it triggers the spawning season.
During this time, male yellow perch undergo physiological changes, developing tubercles, or small bumps, on their bodies, particularly on their heads and fins. These tubercles contain tiny projections that release milt, or sperm, which fertilizes the eggs.
Female yellow perch deposit their adhesive eggs over submerged vegetation or structures in shallow water, often near the lake or river shoreline. The adhesive nature of the eggs helps them attach to these surfaces, protecting them from being swept away by currents or consumed by predators. The number of eggs produced by a female can vary, with larger, older perch typically producing more eggs.
After fertilization, the eggs undergo an incubation period that typically lasts for two to three weeks, depending on water temperature. Once the eggs hatch, young perch, known as fry, emerge. They are initially quite small and vulnerable, and their survival depends on finding suitable prey and avoiding predation. As they grow, juvenile yellow perch gradually transition to a diet that includes small aquatic invertebrates and eventually small fish.
Ontario Angling Record: The Ontario angling record for yellow perch was set at 2.42 pounds (1.10 kilograms).
Lake Simcoe Size Range: Yellow Perch are typically anywhere from 6" to 8" in size on average but larger of schools of 10" to 12" size fish are present in Lake Simcoe. Larger fish over 13" are caught every season.
Recommended Equipment: An ultra-light action ice rod paired with a 500-1000 size spinning reel, spooled with 4 to 6-pound braid, monofilament, or fluorocarbon line is recommended, providing the necessary sensitivity and control for this species.
Recommended Baits: Baits that have proven effective for catching yellow perch include small minnow-type baits, spoons, small jigs, and small emerald shiners are all successful choices for enticing these fish.
Depth Range: During the warmer months, such as spring and early summer, yellow perch can often be found in shallower waters, typically ranging from 3 to 15 feet deep. They are drawn to these shallow areas for various reasons, including spawning activities and the abundance of aquatic insects, small fish, and other prey in these warmer, nearshore zones. As the water temperature rises, so does their activity in these shallower habitats.
However, as the seasons progress into late summer and fall, yellow perch tend to shift to deeper water. This transition is influenced by the cooling water temperatures and changes in prey availability. In the late summer and early fall, you can often find them in depths ranging from 15 to 30 feet or even deeper in some cases. These deeper areas provide a more stable temperature and access to schools of baitfish, which yellow perch readily prey upon.
In the winter, when lakes freeze over for ice fishing, yellow perch can once again be found in shallower waters, typically in depths ranging from 10 to 20 feet or even closer to the surface. Ice anglers often target these fish by drilling holes and positioning their baits at various depths within this range.
The ability of yellow perch to adapt to changing depths throughout the year makes them a versatile and accessible target for anglers in various seasons and environments, from shallow to deep waters, offering year-round fishing opportunities.
Current Lake Simcoe Regulations: Anglers should be aware of the specific regulations governing yellow perch fishing in Lake Simcoe. The open season for yellow perch is all year. If you possess a conservation license, you can keep 25 in one day, sport license can keep 50 in one day. Please refer to our regulations page for more details.