Yellow perch are considered quite easy to catch and can be found in areas where other panfish are feeding. Yellow perch forage during daylight hours and do not feed at night. They are active all year long, including under the ice, making them a favorite with ice fishermen. Minnows and jigs are popular tackle.
Habitat: The yellow perch inhabits the natural lakes and streams of northeastern Illinois, occurring in some of the Illinois and Mississippi River bottom lakes in the northern half of the state. Yellow perch were successfully introduced into some of the large artificial lakes of the northern and central part of the state, despite generally failing to become established in southern Illinois and thrive best in clear lakes with some vegetation. Perch travel in large schools and can be caught rapidly as long as they are in the vicinity of the hook. They cannot be considered a strong fighter but compensate for this by their readiness to take a bait. Perch fishing is particularly important along Chicago's lakefront where it is practically the only species caught by sport fishermen. Year-round, perch can be caught using baits such as minnows, mayfly nymphs, and worms.
Feeding and Habits: Young perch feed on zooplankton and small aquatic insects, and in turn are food for larger predator fish. Small fish, including small perch, are mainstays of the adult perch's diet. Adult perch also eat aquatic insects and crustaceans.
Reproduction: Males become sexually mature at the age of one and females at the age of two or three. Spawning takes place in early spring at depths up to 10 feet and occurs at night and early morning. The females are accompanied by several males, which swim alongside or behind them. The fertilized eggs are deposited on the bottom in gelatinous, ribbon-like masses that are 2 to 7 feet long. The incubation period of the eggs is 8 to 21 days with no care by the parents to the eggs and young.