The yellow perch is found throughout much of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Although smaller in size than some species, the yellow perch is one of the most important species in the region. Yellow perch are found in rivers and creeks throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.
The yellow perch is one of several Chesapeake Bay fish species that lead anadromous life cycles. Spawning occurs during spring in small, flowing streams and creeks, often scores of miles upstream of the main bay.
After spawning, adults disperse, with some fish moving downstream into productive feeding areas. Meanwhile, young fish remain in natal habitats, where they find food and protection from predators.
As Autumn approaches, falling water temperatures trigger yellow perch to migrate into deeper areas. By early winter, perch begin congregating in schools along channel edges. Although the weather can be frigid, anglers often begin their fishing season by targeting schools of perch during this stage.
As early as February and March, yellow perch begin moving upstream towards their natal spawning habitats. These early season migrations usually attract anglers to known yellow perch hot spots. By early spring, the majority of fish have moved far upstream and spawning occurs.