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White Perch Fishing 101: How to Catch Like A Pro?

how to catch white perch
Written by Immanuel Baranov
Last Update: March 30, 2022

White perch won’t be the biggest fish you ever get but if you find the right spot and have the right bait, they are fun to catch and make a delicious supper.

Here we will look at the best places to find white perch, what bait they like the most, and tips to catch these silver swimmers.

A Quick Look at White Perch

White Perch

White perch are small with silver scales and a darker humped back. Perch swim with their spined dorsal fin ridged and are related to the striped bass.

They are 8 to 12 inches long, and if they are not caught before they reach full weight, they can weigh about two pounds. Their size makes them good panfish.

White perch swim in areas of North America that have low and high tides.

One place known for white perch fishing is the Atlantic coast in the New England area, especially in the Chesapeake Bay where the water is known to be brackish.

Where to Find White Perch?

The Chesapeake Bay has the perfect salinity and temperature for the white perch. You’ll find them in the bay’s drop-offs, near the oyster bars, and of course, near the artificial reefs.

Also, packs of perch swim in the remote areas of the tributaries upriver, the bay’s main stem, and at the river’s mouth. Other spots on the Atlantic include Tom’s river, New Jersey, Mullica, the Great Egg Harbor, and Delaware.

During the day, they are at a depth of thirty-five feet near piles of weeds and brush, on points and humps. At night white perch stay in shallow water where there’s light like piers and docks.

Gear up for Catching White Perch

Make sure to have your fishing license. In some states, the game warden will take your fishing gear and issue a fine.

You don’t need a lot of fishing gear for white perch fishing. Instead, bring a good fishing rod, a spinner reel that is small in size and lightweight.

The tackle you bring should be lightweight so you can feel the perch bite!

How to Catch White Perch

Step 1: Dress for fishing

The weather in early spring is unpredictable. You will need warm clothes to start the day.

Dress in layers to peel off clothes as the day gets warmer. Pack a raincoat or poncho in case it rains.

If you’re fishing on the bank, you may want boots to keep your feet dry and warm. But if you are fishing in the water, a set of waders is a must.

Don’t forget to bring your fishing hat for good luck and to keep the sun out of your eyes.

Step 2: Have the proper gear

You already know to bring the fishing pole and reel. You’ll need small hooks; size 5 – 6 is ideal. White perch have smaller mouths. Those perch will eat the bait off the hook and swim away if the hook is too big.

Don’t forget to bring your bait, a net if you use one, and a stringer or live bucket.

Step 3: Best time to go fishing

When the white perch spawns in the spring to early summer (April through June) and the fall when they mature is the best time to catch perch.

Time of day is important as well, think mealtimes, fish in the early morning and evening before sundown.

Step 4: Using the right bait or lure

Live bait should always be your first choice. You may want to try different baits and see which perch in your area enjoy the most. Minnows, shrimp, and worms are among the perch’s favorite bait (especially mealworms, wax worms, and nightcrawlers).

Other bait that they love includes: clams, cut bait (ensure it is fresh and firm, or the perch will not bite), crabs, Saltwater bait (anchovies, scad, and halfbeaks), and freshwater bait (top minnows, sucker-fish family, and the carp or minnow family.)

  • Plugs

Are usually made of wood and plastic, so they are light enough to float on the water.

  • Spinners

Have a straight metal rod or shaft with several blades attached. The blades mimic small swimming fish.

  • Spoons

These metal lures have a dip in them like a spoon, to the perch, they look like a baitfish and a sliver minnow.

  • Jigs

Have a tail made out of rubber with a heavier metal head, animal hair, and feathers.

  • Minnows

Silver in color, these small fish are commonly used as bait. Hook them through the mouth, so they stay alive and swim about; this will attract the perch!

  • Worms

There is such a variety of worms. Perch love nightcrawlers, wax, blood,  and mealworms

  • Lures

Use lightweight lures with small hooks. A sabiki rig is perfect for white perch. If you fish with children, cut the sabiki rig in half. The three hook sabiki is kid-sized and won’t get easily tangled!

Step 5: Choose your casting method

Since perch like the shoreline, you can cast off the shore with an easy toss. If you are in a boat, just drop the line over the side of the boat.

Of course, if you are in waders, you will need to cast out to where the perch are hiding.

Step 6: Pay attention to your line

Keep an eye on your line; unlike a bass, perch will not strike and run. Instead, perch nibble, and if you are distracted, you will miss your opportunity to catch them on your hook.

Step 7: Keep fishing till you catch a perch

Unless you drop your line in the middle of a perch pack, you may have to wait a bit until the perch know you’re there and decide to start eating. It is worth the wait once you start binging in the fish.

White Perch Fishing Tips and Tricks

Fish during spring spawn

April to June is spring spawning for white perch – the best time to fish for perch.

Since they are going from the mouth of a larger river to the smaller ones, this will be the best place to find them.

Not only will you find a large pack of these perch, but you can also fish off the shore, so you won’t need a boat!


You are all set to fish for white perch if you own a boat and a trolling motor. Drop your line in the water and drift till the fish start biting.

In good time

Time to use some patience! Let the perch come to you. Once they start to hit the bait, wait until they bite the hook before setting them on the line. Pulling the line too soon will scare the perch away.

Fishing at river mouths

Perch love the brackish water found at the mouth of a river. You find perch, where tributaries run into the bays.

Quadruple your chances

If you have a Sabiki rig, you can catch white perch. A sabiki rig lets you catch multiple fish at a time (two to eight perch, depending on the size of the sabiki rig).

Minnows work the best with this rig, so bait each hook with a minnow and let it fall as deep as the fish.

Pull the pole and set the line once you feel the perch bite. Then drop it back in the water and try again.

About the author

Immanuel Baranov

My life is pretty much defined by my avid outdoor activities. I’m generally obsessed with fishing, skiing and occasional hunting and whitewater paddling. I’ve been active since my early years. I inherited my passion for fishing from my father who made frequent family trips to the banks of Sacramento River. Growing up, I did a lot of fishing in the vicinity. Now that I have two sons, our weekends are full of fishing activities. I would say, you need good spots where you can go out a lot for the thing you love. I had the privilege to grow up near numerous water bodies and I’m proud to say that I made good use of them. It’s also great to do something with kids that helps them learn patience, endurance and preciseness.

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