A Popular "First Fish" in the Chesapeake
Yellow perch, are year long residents in many of the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. The yellow perch is semi-anadromous, meaning it lives in brackish or fresh water portions of tidal rivers and congregates to “run” or spawn in shallow freshwater streams. Spawning typically occurs in late February to March, and it is before and during this period that mostrecreational anglers pursue them. Because yellow perch are readily available from shore, and often eager to bite a lure, dead or live bait, they are quite popular with people of all angling abilities and represent a great “first fish” or family option for anglers in Maryland.
Larry Jennings, a long time CCA volunteer holds this citation sized perch caught “drop shotting” on the Pocomoke River
The Yellow Perch Population is in Trouble
Studies show that yellow perch have been negatively impacted by the degradation and development of certain watersheds, and face recruitment challenges where large amounts of impervious surface dominates an area around their spawning streams. Female yellow perch lay long, gelatinous strands of eggs, which stick to underwater vegetation, tree branches and other debris. After spawning, adults migrate back downstream. Females mature between 2 to 4 years old, while males mature about one year earlier. Yellow perch can live for 13 years In 2000 it was found that yellow perch were being over harvested by commercial fishermen and nets were being set far upstream in spawning tributaries.
What CCA Maryland is Doing
CCA volunteers conducted stream surveys counting YP egg sacs, published annual reports of the findings and worked to have Maryland DNR initiate a Fishery Management Plan that established a biological based stock assessment. This plan also allocated the annual sustainable harvest equally between the recreational and commercial fishermen and restricted nets from specific locations in numerous tributaries.
CCA Maryland continues to closely monitor the management and commercial landings of this fishery, and promote a science based management strategy that ensures a bright future for the fish and the many anglers and businesses who look forward to the perch run each year.