FISHING FOR THE EUROPEAN PERCH
The perch, abundant in supply, is a tasty freshwater game fish that can be caught by anglers all year round. The perch usually has a greenish body with a white or yellow belly and brightly colored pelvic fins, black stripes along its sides, double dorsal fins, and ctenoid scales. Its compact body shape makes it move very quickly in the water. The speed comes in handy during an attack, making it an efficient predator, but in the spring, the fish grows fat and turns slow as it spawns.
There are three main perch species: the European perch, the yellow perch, and the Balkhash perch. The European perch, formerly unique to Europe and Asia, was introduced to South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand and is called English perch or redfin perch in those regions. The Perch is the national fish of Finland. The European perch is a predatory species. In Australia, particularly New South Wales, it has been declared noxious because of its active role in reducing native fish.
The European perch reproduces once a year and may produce more than 150,000 eggs per female. It lays its eggs tethered to a six-foot-long skein that drapes over vegetation and wood so it can undergo fertilization without being preyed upon. The larvae move to the pelagic zone to find and feed on zooplankton and algae when they hatch.
Interestingly, a perch may live as for two decades, reaching a maximum length of 24 inches. Perch can also grow as large as eight pounds, as was the case with one caught in the Maas river in the Netherlands. Because the Baltic Sea contains low salinity levels, many freshwater fish in the surrounding area thrive, multiply abundantly, and reach a considerable size. A young perch typically feeds on zooplankton, but as soon as it reaches about five inches in size, it starts to feed on fish and invertebrates, with its favorites including minnows and sticklebacks.
Many say that the fish makes excellent food because of its white color, firm texture, and sweet flavor. Anglers often bait the perch with pieces of raw squid or worms, shrimp, and maggots and use various fishing methods, including drop shot fishing and fly fishing. Some anglers believe that the best bait to use is a lobworm. As the worm continues to wriggle in the water, it releases a scent that attracts the perch. A barbless hook is recommended, to cause minimal damage to the fish. When fishing in still waters, anglers may consider float fishing with the aid of a floater and a large lobworm. They may also mix chopped worms with the ground bait for optimum results. If they do not feel any movement, they may reel in their bait for a bit to invite the perch.
However, anglers in the United States should note that the import and trade of the perch have been federally banned under the Lacey Act. The fish has also been listed as a species of least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. However, fishing for European perch can be a new experience for travelers to Europe.