Home Ingredients Fish White Perch Vs. White Bass – A Quick Guide

White Perch Vs. White Bass – A Quick Guide

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Man holding freshly caught fish and fillets on a plate.

The white bass and the white perch are two fish that can be found in the United States and often get mixed up. They are both members of the Percichthyidae family, also known as temperate basses, and are closely related to the striped bass. Would you like to know what the difference is between a white perch and white bass? We’re about to show you how these fish differ so that you’ll never mix them up again. Let’s get started.

What is the difference between a white bass and a white perch?

The white bass is a freshwater fish that usually ranges from 10-12” in length. It is deepest at the dorsal fin and has up to ten faint stripes running horizontally along its body. It is piscivorous, feeding on other fish such as sunfish and silversides. A white bass has an overwhelmingly fishy flavor and many anglers consider this fish unpleasant to eat. The white perch can live in fresh or saltwater and is a smaller fish than the white bass, ranging from 5-7” in length. This species has a body that is deepest in front of the dorsal fin and has no stripes. The white perch is omnivorous and feeds on larvae, fish eggs, and flies. It is a mild and sweet flavored whitefish that many enjoy.

Summary comparison table of white perch and white bass

 White PerchWhite Bass
Scientific NameMorone americanaMorone chrysops
FlavorMild and sweetOverwhelmingly fishy
ShapeDeepest in front of dorsal finDeepest at dorsal fin
StripesNo stripes6-10 faint stripes horizontally
FinsDorsal fin connected to tail (caudal) finDorsal and tail (caudal) fin not connected
Average Size5-7”10-12”
Adult DietOmnivorous - insect larvae, fish eggs, fliesPiscivorous – shad, silversides, young sunfish
HabitatFreshwater and saltwaterFreshwater
Nuisance FactorVery highLow

Flavor

White bass: Most anglers do not enjoy the overwhelmingly strong fishy flavor that white bass provides. They are high in oil content and are best compared to a crappie. To reduce the strong taste it is recommended that the red flesh along the rib cage be removed before eating.

White perch: The white perch has deep pink flesh and is lean, flaky, and moist in texture. The flesh, once cooked, has a sweet mild flavor and is prized in the angling community.

Identification

White bass: The deepest point of a bass is directly under its dorsal fin. It has around six to 10 faint stripes running horizontally along its body and they usually measure 10-12″ in length. Next time you think you’ve caught a white bass lift up its dorsal fin. If its tail fin also lifts up then you have another species on the line! With bass, the two fins are not connected.

Features of a white bassWhite perch: The perch has a body that is deepest in front of its dorsal fin. You won’t see any stripes running along its body, and it will measure roughly 5-7″ in length. If you lift the fish’s dorsal fin, you will find that the tail fin also raises as the two are connected.

Diet

White bass: Adult bass are piscivorous meaning they feed on other fish. Common favorites include shad, silversides, and occasionally young sunfish. If you’re out fishing, then they’ll bite on minnows, worms, or other live bait.

White perch: Perch enjoy dining on the eggs of various native species of fish including the walleye and other true perches. They will also feed on fathead or mud minnows.

Habitat

White bass: A white bass is a freshwater fish that enjoys cool, deep, clear water with lots of space to prey on other fish. They are usually found in ponds, rivers, lakes, or reservoirs.

White perch: Perch can live in fresh or saltwater. Those that live in freshwater prefer a lake or pond. Coastal streams and brackish estuaries are common habitats for saltwater white perch.

Nuisance factor

White bass: The white bass is not considered an invasive species and are sometimes stocked in reservoirs to control gizzard shad populations.

White perch: Perch is considered a nuisance in some States as they are destroying fisheries. They feed aggressively on baitfish eaten by other species. They are responsible for serious declines in the populations of white bass, yellow perch, and walleye. Some states recommend that anglers do not “catch and release” white perch to help control their numbers. Laws also forbid the possession of live white perch in various States.

Summing up

Anglers could be forgiven for mixing up the white bass and white perch. They are very similar-looking fish, both found in the United States and Canada. The easiest way to tell them apart is to simply look for the stripes on their body. If you can’t see any then it’s likely you have a perch; if you see 6 to 10 stripes then it’s more likely you have a white bass. Keep in mind that a bass is also roughly double the size of a white perch. Cross your fingers that you have caught a white perch because this fish is considered very good eating; conversely, white bass is loathed by many people due to its extreme fishiness.

Have you ever tasted a white perch or a white bass? Please let us know what you thought of their taste in the comments below.

White Perch Vs White Bass InfographicImage Credits:
University of Washington / Public domain
Mahler1780 at English Wikipedia / Public domain