The Perch (Perca fluviatilis), or European Perch (also known as a Redfin in Australia) is a predatory species of coarse fish native to Europe, Scandanavia and northern Asia. It is classed as an invasive species in the southern hemisphere where it has been introduced as it has caused damage to native fish stocks.
A regular catch for anglers, due to its voracious appetite, the Perch is a firm favourite with pleasure and specialist anglers throughout Europe and is considered to be good eating south of the equator and in eastern Europe, but is not generally consumed in western Europe or commercially farmed.
Perch are pretty striking fish, with tiger-like stripes over a grey and green body, replete with red anal and caudal fins and a large, spiky dorsal. Perch aren’t completely helpless when out of water, and I can attest to having had many close encounters with their spiked gill plates and dorsal fin. They can live for over 20 years and reach lengths of 60cm and a weight of over 8lb, although the British record stands at 6.3lbs with a specimen being considered generally to be one over 3lbs. Older and larger perch will develop a hump between the head and dorsal fin. The British record has been shared between two anglers at seperate fisheries, indicating that there is an excellent chance of this being beaten. A 6lb 4oz fish has also been reported in the angling press, but as far as I am aware this has not been verified, nor is it official.
Any angler will attest to the fact that perch will pretty much eat anything that wriggles or moves. Favourite baits are red maggots (many fishermen swear that perch are attracted to red), worms, shrimps, prawns and dead and livebaits. Some of the best perch have been caught using small perch as livebait as they are notoriously cannibalistic in nature. Over the past few years, perch have been targeted by specialists using lures and softbaits and as the popularity of this method has increased, a resurgence of interest in the beautiful perch has been apparent thanks primarily to drop shotting.