The exquisitely beautiful European Perch is without doubt a most impressive looking species, gladatorial in appearance with its distinctly humped back and brassy flanks broadly striped with 5 to 9 vertical bars in dark olive green hues narrowing as they sweep round to meet the creamy white underbelly. To find out where to find Perch in Scotland here.

Spawning, Growth & Capture
Appearance, Habitat & Behaviour

With fiery orange pelvic, anal and caudal fins their deep somewhat compressed bodies are armed with a translucent frontal dorsal fin sporting fourteen or fifteen needle sharp spines with many an unwary angler requiring little reminder as to just how extremely painful a puncture wound from these lances are felt. Their extensive arsenal of weaponry does not end there with razor sharp opercles - gill cover extensions - primed with an anti-coagulant ready to inflict yet more severe damage on the unwary.

Further protection is in evidence in the form of an extremely tough seemingly armour plated skin covered in small scales similar to chain mail which on closer inspection will be found to have serrated edges. Their powerful looking heads also give the impression of having a somewhat pugnacious appearance with dark eyes and a large mouth easily capable of engulfing prey up to and in some cases over half its own width.

Well camoflauged and with an almost chameleonesque like ability to assume the subtle hues and colouration of the vegetation within its environs this deadly striped dandy is both a strikingly handsome fish and an extremely ferocious predator. Whilst lacking the extreme explosive acceleration of the pike nevertheless with superior fin arrangement affording it far greater manoeverability this underwater hyena has great stamina chasing and harrying its prey whilst simultaneously nipping at their tails to incapitate them before engulfing them in its cavernous jaws.

Perch are commonly found in ponds, lochs, lakes, reservoirs, canals, streams and rivers throughout the United Kingdom where they will seek out some form of underwater structure with tree roots, reeds, aquatic weed beds, undercut banks and man made structures such as bridge stanchions all being favoured. These sanctuaries are advantageous in both concealing their presence whilst also affording a suitable ambush point should anything edible venture close enough for them to launch an attack.

It is most likely that within the first six months or so of their lives a percentage of juvenile fish will turn their attention to the fry of smaller fish such as minnow, gudgeon, roach, rudd, bleak and dace - even turning cannibal and consuming their own brethren. During the summer months it is not uncommon to witness very large shoals of juvenile perch hunting in packs chasing and harrying shoals of smaller fry such as Roach or Rudd with the water surface frequently erupting in a multitude of mini explosions with the small fry leaping for their lives as the marauding perch launch their attacks.

Whereas juvenile perch of the same class are gregarious often gathering together and forming large shoals larger specimens are more often solitary hunters in the main although with falling temperatures during the colder months perch both large and small shoal together and move into deeper waters. So when "prospecting" during the warmer months it might well be worthwhile seeking out perch in their usual haunts of relatively shallow water in and around the vicinity of sub-surface features however as the temperatures drops during autumn and as winter approaches try deeper water.

In lochs and lakes reeds and aquatic weed beds might offer suitable cover whilst overhanging branches shade. Where streams , or indeed any flowing current, enters the main body of water carrying with it a bounty of worms, beetles and assorted bugs is always a good place to explore.

Spawning takes place in early spring, generally April and May, with their eggs being laid in long strings, sometimes 1.5 metres in length, on submerged tree roots, reeds and aquatic weed.

Depending on water temperatures after approximately 7 to 14 days the eggs hatch into fry of about 0.5 cms in length drawing nutrients from their yolk sac for the first week or so and then as these young juvenile perch develop and grow they initially feed on zooplankton before gradually progressing onto a diet of bloodworm, larvae, insects and other aquatic invertebrates before moving onto crustaceans and larger prey.

Whilst all perch may be considered carnivorous to some extent it is the small percentage that from a very young age adopt an almost exclusive diet of fish, certainly during the summer months when their appetite is easily satisfied due to the abundance of prey fish at their disposal, that will soon outstrip their siblings in terms of growth which in turn allows ever larger prey fish to be consumed, such fish can dramatically increase in weight with a 4 year old fish reaching as much as 2 lb in weight.

Though Perch can grow up to and beyond the 6 lb mark an average UK fish would be a much more modest 4 to 12 ounces whilst anything over the 2 lb to 2.5 lb mark - when they may well have reached over 16 inches in length - may be considered a specimen depending on the particular venues capability / capacity to produce such fish.

Male Perch become sexually mature at around 3 years of age when they will be about 4 to 6 inches (12 - 18 cms) in length with females following suit during the following year having attained a slightly larger.

Perch in the wild can live to a an age of around 10 to 12 years whereas in captivity they have been known to survive for in excess of 25 years.

Perch may be captured by various methods such as by ledgering, feeder, freelining, lure fishing and can also on occasion even be tempted to take the fly.

Though considerable numbers of juvenile perch may be caught during the hours of daylight relatively easily under most conditions using any of the above methods, it is at dusk and dawn when we might reasonably expect to be in with a good chance of contacting a perch approaching specimen status.

In winter as the sun sets may be also be considered big perch prime time.

Successful baits are numerous and varied with maggots and casters catching many perch throughout the season though in most instances they will most likely be taken first by other fish in the swim which can be a frustrating experience particularly when big perch are the intended quarry. That said flavoured maggots cast into a swim can draw in both perch and the smaller bait fish which in turn at least enhances your chances of a decent perch falling to your well presented lobworm or baitfish.

Worms - lob, dendrobaena, red and brandlings - all give success on most waters, however it is the lobworm which stands out as an absolutely top class big perch bait with little to equal its success rate . When fishing the lobworm remember to nip off both tips of the worm as this allows the tasty juices to flow and enter the swim which will in turn attract the perch to your bait.

Livebaiting is also a good method of sorting out the the big boys with large baits in the 4 to 5 inch range being used to good effect.

Remember that only bait fish native to the venue must be used and that it is not only illegal but also extremely irresponsible to do otherwise as there is a very real threat of infection and disease being introduced to an otherwise healthy and thriving fish stock.

Static deadbaiting is also a very productive method and here even larger baits can be employed with 6 or 7 inch baits not being uncommon. Whatever your chosen bait may be it pays dividend to use the freshest bait possible with bait just despatched, mounted and cast into a swim far outfishing baits brought to the venue.

It should also be noted here that sea deadbaits in their varying forms as often used by pike anglers are next to useless for perch.

Spinning with small lures can also give good sport and where one fish is captured there will unvariably be others so a repeated cast to the same area will often produce yet another take. It is a good policy to use barbless hooks or at the very least to flatten the barbs with pliers as this allows for a much easier release and much less resultant damage to the fish. test