Introduced Fish in Maine
White perch occurrence in Maine and New England freshwaters
- White perch naturally occur in coastal ponds and estuaries along the Atlantic coast of North America (ranging from Nova Scotia to South Carolina). Their historical natural presence in inland freshwaters is not well documented (as it is for landlocked Atlantic salmon, and to a lesser extent, their major forage - landlocked rainbow smelt).
- White perch appear to have weak migratory or anadromous traits, in contrast to its close relative, the striped bass (family Moronidae). Estuarine populations appear to have both resident and transient subgroups, and also ascend freshwater coastal streams during their springtime spawning runs (late April to early June).
- White perch, particularly in Maine, are a very popular sportfish - by virtue of their abundance and ease of angling by youngsters, while larger (humpback) individuals are eagerly sought after for human consumption. They may also be the most often illegally introduced (unauthorized translocated) fish species in Maine.
- Landlocked white perch populate numerous inland waterbodies as a result of historical introductions dating back to the early 1900's thru 1940's. Some landlocked white perch populations in Maine are suspected (in the absence of historical stocking records) to have originated from fish transplants during early settlement times.
- Landlocked white perch populations are prolific, very dense, and commonly overpopulate waterbodies where they have been introduced in Maine and New England in general. In many inland waters, white perch populations may become stunted - with large biomasses tied up in old, slow growing and small individuals.
- Adult white perch stay in deeper (pelagic zone) water during the summer, when abundant schools of juvenile (young-of-year) white perch inhabit lakeshores (littoral zone), feeding primarily on smaller crustaceans (zooplankton) during evening hours and generally inhabiting deeper waters (limnetic zone) during daytime hours.
Prepared by Dr. David Halliwell, Maine DEP (17 February 2005)
Reviewers: Maine DEP - Dave Courtemanch, Barry Mower, Jim Stahlnecker, Melissa Evers, Roy Bouchard, and Linda Bacon; University of Maine - Katherine Webster, Tara Trinko, Peter Vaux and Joe Zydlewski; Maine DMR - Gail Wippelhauser and Nate Gray; Maine DIFW Peter Bourque, John Boland, Merry Gallagher, Dave Boucher, Ken Warner (retired) and Matt Scott (retired).