Walleye vs Perch – Differences, Fishing Tips & More

Thomas Krik

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Thomas Krik

Marc Lowe


Marc Lowe

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Walleye and perch have similar characteristics, making it confusing for anglers to tell them apart. They may look identical at first glance, but these two freshwater fish have distinctive features.

Typically, walleye are larger and more active at night, whereas perch are smaller and day dwellers.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the similarities and differences between walleye vs perch. Additionally, we’ll compare their taste, texture, and nutritional value.

Before we go into details, here’s a quick overview of their notable differences:

Walleye Perch
Scientific name Sander Vitreus Perca fluviatilis
A.K.A Pike perch/Yellow pickerel Silver bass/Yellow perch
Size Larger Smaller
Body color Golden Green olive
Body shape Elongated Oval
Habitat Larger bodies of water Shallow waters
Lifespan 10-15 years 5-6 years

The Elusive Walleye


The walleye’s scientific name is Sander vitreus, a close relative of the European zander and sauger species. They are ray-finned freshwater fish native to North America and Canada.

Walleyes can grow up to 40 inches long and weigh as much as 25 pounds. Their most distinctive feature is their large, reflective eyes, which allow them to see well in low-light conditions. This adaptation makes the walleye an excellent hunter, especially during dawn and dusk.

This famous game fish prefers cooler water temperatures and are commonly found in lakes, reservoirs, ocean, and rivers. They are known for their elusive nature, making them a challenging and rewarding catch for anglers.

These carnivorous predators like to feast on smaller fish and invertebrates. Their favorite prey is the yellow perch, but they also feed on nightcrawlers, leeches, minnows, crayfish, and more. Hence, the next time you go walleye fishing, these live baits will entice a hungry walleye to bite!

The Colorful Perch


Perch, specifically the yellow perch (Perca flavescens), is another widespread freshwater fish in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are smaller fish, growing up to 12 inches long and weighing around 4 pounds. Additionally, perch are famous for their bright yellow coloring and distinctive dark vertical stripes.

These delicate and flavorful fish are found in various habitats, including streams, lakes, ponds, and rivers. Besides, they can tolerate diverse water temperatures and environments, thriving in shallow waters.

Unlike the carnivorous walleye, perch have a more varied diet. It mainly consists of small fish, shrimps, crayfish, fish eggs, leeches, and insect larvae.

Anglers often pursue this fish because of its lively nature and eagerness to nibble on baits. Perch is also a popular target for ice fishing enthusiasts due to its activity during the winter months.

What are the Similarities Between Walleye and Perch?

Walleye and perch, two popular freshwater fish species, have common similarities. These include the following:

1. Shared habitat


Both are native to North America and can be caught in freshwater environments such as lakes, rivers, and streams. Their overlapping habitats make them both accessible and familiar to most anglers.

2. A catch worth savoring

Walleye and perch are highly sought-after for their palatable taste and tender, flaky texture. Both fish are versatile in the kitchen and can be cooked in many ways, including frying, baking, steaming, and grilling. Also, their mild flavor profiles are easily paired with any seasonings and sauces.

3.Nutritional value

Besides being a tasty delicacy, these species provide significant nutritional benefits. They are excellent sources of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They can also be good sources of vitamins and minerals.

How are Walleye and Perch Different?

Many anglers are familiar with the thrill of reeling in a walleye or perch. While they share a few things in common, these species have unique characteristics that set them apart. Let’s discuss them below:

1. Habitat preferences


Because of their grander size, walleye prefer larger and cooler bodies of water, with rocky or sandy bottoms. These environments are suitable for them to hunt for prey in low-light conditions. On the other hand, perch inhabit shallower waters with a mixture of vegetation and open areas.

2. Contrasting biology


Walleye and perch differ significantly in size, weight, lifespan, and breeding patterns.

Walleye can grow up to 40 inches long, weighing around 25 pounds, while perch are typically smaller. Moreover, walleye can live up to 15 years compared to the 6 years lifespan of perch.

In terms of breeding, both fish spawn in the spring. Female walleye can lay thousands of eggs on shallows, rocks, or gravel, while perch lay their eggs on mushy vegetation or submerged structures.

3. Taste and texture


Interested to know perch vs walleye taste? The flavor and texture of these species are unique to each other, making them appealing for multiple culinary uses. Walleye is known for its mild, sweet flavor and tender, flaky texture.

Meanwhile, perch has a slightly stronger flavor and a firmer texture. Both fish are versatile and can be prepared in many ways.

4. Unique physical appearance


The distinct walleye characteristics makes them easily distinguishable. They have a long, slender body with a greenish-brown coloration. Their most peculiar feature is their large, reflective eyes, which help them see well at night.

Perch, on the other hand, have a more compact, oval-shaped body. They have vibrant yellow coloring with black vertical bands on their backs. These markings make them easily recognizable from other fish species.

Identifying Walleye and Perch


In addition to the above differences, the superficial attributes of walleye and perch can help you recognize each species fast. Refer to the following information:

  • Color — Generally, walleye have an olive green to goldish or brownish color along their body, with dark at least five dark saddles on their back. Perch have a greenish body too, but you can easily recognize them by their orange-colored fins.
  • Shape — Walleye are known for their elongated and slim appearance, while yellow perch are more solid and oval-shaped.
  • Eyes — If you look at a walleye’s eyes, you can find that their eyes appear opaque or cloudy. Like most fish, perch have dark-colored eyes.
  • Size — As noted, walleye tend to be larger and heavier than perch. Their size may overlap, but the color and shape differences are surefire to tell them apart.

Popular Fishing Locations for Walleye

Source: guidesly.com

Walleyes are freshwater game fish, so anglers can find them in various locations across the US and Canada. They live in most rivers and lakes throughout Canada, the northern United States, and parts of the southern United States.

With their elusive nature and delectable taste, walleye continues to draw anglers to many prime destinations in pursuit of a remarkable catch. The map below will help you determine your next fishing spot:

Popular Fishing Locations for Perch

Source: Wikipedia.org

Like walleye, perch are widely distributed in Northern America, as well as the southern parts of Canada. Anglers can find success fishing for perch in various lakes in the US. Perch hotspots include the Western Basin near Toledo, Ohio, and the Central Basin near Cleveland, Ohio.

Besides lakes, you can also catch perch in ponds and rivers, like the Mississippi River. You can refer to the map below for popular perch fishing locations:

When and How to Fish for Each Specie?


As long as regulations don’t say otherwise, you can enjoy fishing for perch and walleye all year round. They are opportunistic predators that will bite whether it’s summer, winter, or spring. However, you must adjust your angling techniques each season to match their changing patterns and behavior.

The best way to entice walleyes is to mimic their live prey, such as smaller fish. You can use methods like trolling, jigging, and slip floats to trick and catch them.

If you like to target perch, you can apply varying techniques like jigging, bait rigs, and float fishing. Moreover, they can bite on a range of soft baits, such as minnows, crayfish, and worms. Because perch have smaller mouths, we recommend using a right-sized hook or tackle.

Perch Vs Walleye Nutritional Value: Which is Better?


The nutritional values of walleye vs perch vary. However, one thing is certain. Both species provide a healthy dose of proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

To have a better idea of their nutritional value, have a close look at the following table:

Walleye Perch
Calories 79 per 3oz serving 77. 4 per 3oz serving
Protein 16.3g 16.5g
Saturated fat 0.2g 0.2g
Monounsaturated fat 0.25g 0.1g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.4g 0.3g
Cholesterol 73mg 76.5mg
Sodium 43mg 52.7mg
Potassium 331mg 228.7mg
Magnesium 26mg 25.5mg
Phosphorus 178mg 170mg
Calcium 94mg 68mg
Vitamin C 0mg 1.4mg
Selenium 10.7mg 0.01mg

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the taste difference between ocean perch vs lake perch?

Fresh and saltwater perch have distinct flavors and qualities due to their ecosystems. Ocean perch tends to have a sweeter and more flavorful taste profile, while lake perch has a slight sweetness and crunchy texture.

Is a walleye fish similar to perch?

Although they have key similarities, walleye, and perch have unique features and characteristics. Additionally, they are distinct in colors, sizes, and feeding habits.

Does perch taste good?

Absolutely! Like salmon, perch can be a delicious and versatile addition to your diet. You’ll probably love their mild tastes and firm flesh.


In summary, walleye and perch are two engrossing fish species that offer unique challenges and rewards for anglers. Also, they have apparent features and attributes that set them apart.

We hope our detailed comparison of walleye vs perch can help you better appreciate the excitement and satisfaction of targeting either fish. So, the next time you’re out fishing, keep an eye out for the reflective eyes of a walleye or the dark stripes of a perch — you might just reel in the catch of a lifetime!

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