Best Bait for Perch – Catch Yellow, White & Barred Surf Perch

Geoff Stadnyk in Baits & Lures on

A Look at the Best Bait for Perch of Different Species

When it comes to Perch fishing, we all have an image of the kind of perch that we fish for. The ones that are abundant in the areas we frequently fish. The thing is, there are so many kinds of Perch that we are likely thinking of different fish ourselves. For example, the Perch that I grew up fishing are called Barred Surf Perch. They live in the surf line of Southern California and Mexico. They are a saltwater fish and completely separate Perch from the Yellow Perch found in many freshwater systems of North America. Despite these disparities, they are both relatively small fish, fun to catch, and great to eat. Interestingly enough, the best bait for Perch is very similar among both species.

The Most Popular Perch to Fish For

Dry-LakePerch, in all their various forms, inhabit many waters around the world. They are a small fish, and most don’t get much bigger than 2 lbs. They can provide hours of fishing enjoyment because of their schooling behavior. This is true in both salt and freshwater species. I’ve spent hours on the beach catching all the Perch I want. Almost every cast at times. Here’s a look at the main Perch anglers fish for.

  • Yellow Perch: This freshwater fish is found in huge numbers all across North America. It is especially know for its flavor and fare on the dining table. Yellow Perch are often found in waters alongside Bream, Bass, Catfish, and Carp.
  • White Perch: Found in the Atlantic coastal waters of North America, the White Perch is actually not a Perch at all, but part of the bass family. Nevertheless, they are prized catch, and also great table fare. Read all about White Perch at
  • Barred Surf Perch: Found in the waves and sandy surf line of Southern California and down into Mexico, these guys gobble up bait in a frenzy. During a hot summer day a fisherman could fill his sack in no time, hit the waves, and be back home to shower up before work.

By far the most popular of these three is the Yellow Perch. It’s simply found in so many more locations around the United States than the other two, and so is sought after by more fishermen. Let’s get going and look at what bait and setup work best for fishing these three species of Perch, starting with Yellow Perch.

Best Bait to Catch Yellow Perch

I’m just going to throw this out there, and it pertains to all three species of Perch, they love to eat liver bait. All though the kind of live bait does change among the three, they all like worms. You just can’t go wrong with those wiggly, crawling, squirmers when it comes to fishing. The trick with using worms to catch Yellow Perch is that you don’t need to use a whole night crawler. You can pinch off a small section of the end of the worm, and this is very effective as a means of getting them to bite.

Other kinds of live bait that Yellow Perch would be willing to devour include small minnows, and soft shell cray fish. Yellow Perch are also an active fish when water is extremely cold, and are often caught by ice fishermen. Perch can be real nibblers at times, and their mouths are also soft. It’s a good idea to use smaller, very sharp hooks to catch Perch. Remember that by setting the hook too hard, you could very well tear it through the Perch’s soft mouth. Yellow Perch can be found in many sorts of freshwater geography. Rocky holes, ledges along the banks of rivers and lakes, deep pools under cliff outcroppings, or hidden pockets under overhanging trees are some of the places Yellow Perch like to forage.

The best way to fish Yellow Perch is to use an extra light rod and reel. The line should be 2 to 4 pound at most, with very small treble or bait hooks. Using split shots for weight is good for short casting, but I’d go the Carolina Rig or make use of a bobber if you need to get your bait farther out.

Best Bait to Catch White Perch

perch-1Yep, you guessed it! White Perch like worms. These part salt, part freshwater fish devour bloodworms. They also can’t resist earth worms and tiny shrimp. The White Perch (although actually a type of bass) likely get their name not only from their similar appearance to other Perch, but also from their pesky behavior around the hook. These buggers will, like all other Perch, nibble your bait away. For this reason fishermen again stick to the ultra light setup when targeting them. A sensitive rod will do wonders to help you feel their little bites.

Bobbers are quite often used to present the bait to these frisky fighters. They do tend to dance all over the water when hooked, flashing from place to place. They are eagerly kept when landed, and know to be a delicious eating species (contrary to other freshwater bass species). They are found only along the Northern Atlantic United States waterboard.

Best Bait for Barred Surf Perch

PERCH 2 12014I must admit that I’m extremely impartial in judgment here, but I love fishing the surf for Barred Surf Perch. I use small sand crabs or bloodworms when I fish for them, or an occasional imitation bloodworm if bait can’t be found. I will likewise use the method of pinching the bloodworm into smaller pieces, as this seems to get the smaller Perch (with their smaller mouths) to bite. Barred Surf Perch often like to peck at bait. You probably have sensed a theme among Perch here. That’s why using smaller pieces of bait on the very tip of your hook works very well to snag the Perch when they’re only nibbling. You can definitely catch more of them this way.

The preferred setup I use to fish Barred Surf Perch is again an adaptation of an ultra light rod and reel. Line can be a little heavier in the surf, with 4-8 lb. test being acceptable. The hook is still pretty small. I use a #6 bait holder mustad hook most times. Surf Perch can be lots of fun to catch down on the sand, standing in ocean water. They are also a known delicacy. I’ve filleted and grilled them, or added them to my favorite seviche recipe.

Your Daily Catch – The Perch Bite Wrap Up!

IMG_2625The best bait for Perch, though we do know them as different fish around the United States, is hailed as worms across the board. Live bait in particular seems to be the go to choice among most groups of Perch fishermen, although you’ll always find those die hards that want to catch fish on the lure. I can’t say I blame them much, as I do myself enjoy the art of casting. We’ve seen that other baits like sand crabs for the Barred Surf Perch, or minnows and soft shelled cray fish for Yellow Perch can be effective as well. Remember to always check local regulations to make sure your bait is allowed, and know the catch limit if you plan on keeping some to eat. You won’t catch a Perch sitting on a perch either, so get out there and give these tips a try. You’ll find they work quite well.

Geoff Stadnyk

Geoff started fishing as a child in the gorgeous lakes of Mammoth, while on family vacations. His fishing experience includes the use of fly rod and reel. Guided trips along the Madison and Gallatin rivers in Montana, the Frying Pan and Animus in Colorado, and the Deschutes river in Oregon have all paid off and helped make Geoff the angler and writer that he is today.

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