Freshwater perch are an extremely adaptable fish that can thrive in a great variety of habitats. Their native range is from the Lesser Slave Lake and the Hudson Bay region in Canada southward through the Great Lakes to Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and as far south as South Carolina. They are also found in many lakes and rivers in the Pacific Northwest.
Perch belongs to the Percidae family of fish and are closely related to walleye. All of the species of this family are spiny and have two well-separated dorsal fins. The first fin has the most spines. When threatened the perch raises these fins as a defense against being eaten. The spines on the fins are extremely sharp and can inflict a painful wound.
Perch spawn in the spring when the water temperature is between 6 and 12 degrees. They generally spawn at night. Depending on its size, a perch will spawn between 4,000 and 40,000 eggs. Perch do not build nests and the eggs are generally laid over aquatic vegetation. The strands of eggs are sticky and adhere to the vegetation. The eggs hatch in from 8 to 10 days. The young are on their own from birth.
Perch are carnivorous and will eat just about any kind of creature they can get their mouth around. They will eat other fish, crayfish, snails, insects, worms, freshwater shrimp and fish meat. They will actively eat their own babies when they can.
Perch grow slowly but can live for nine or 10 years. Fresh Water Perch can be found in many lakes on Vancouver Island. Dougan Lake on Southern Vancouver Island is loaded with these fish, if you stick your toes in, the little minnow perch will come right up and nibble on them.