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These opportunistic predators don't have a finicky diet, except that they seem to prefer large forage (they have been known to eat ducklings). Yellow perch, suckers, and panfish are well known as favorite forage for northern pike. These fish, as well as large shiners and chubs, will take pike when fished with a bobber in the weeds or close to the bottom in pools and holes. Many fishermen prefer to use artificial lures for pike, with the red-and-white spoon being a time-honored favorite. Large spinners and crankbaits, especially those that resemble a yellow perch where that species is found, also take northern pike.
The yellow perch (Perca flavescens) can be viewed as a transition species between gamefish and panfish in that it is pursued both for sport and for food. Found throughout the East, Midwest, and in some western states, the yellow perch can be found in all manner of lakes, ponds, and some rivers in its range. Schools of perch generally roam in search of food, often remaining in one area where forage is abundant, and the angler who lucks onto such a school can literally fill a bucket with them.
Average weight for the species runs less than 1 pound, although a school of jumbo yellow perch may contain fish twice that weight. Yellow perch aren't very finicky feeders, but their forage is limited because of their comparatively small size. Small fish, insects, small crayfish, and snails make up a perch's diet. Probably the best bait for yellow perch is a small minnow fished live on a small hook, either suspended below a bobber or fished with weight close to bottom. Small spinners, jigs plain or tipped with a minnow, and worms also take yellow perch.
Yellow perch are delicious, which is why many anglers strive to fill that bucket. Their firm white flesh is considered one of the tastiest of all freshwater species. A commercial perch fishery exists in some northern waters, but is limited because of this species' comparatively diminutive size.
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