Silver Perch (Bairdiella chrysoura)


The silver perch is a member of the Sciaenidae family (drum and croaker). It is one of the most common and abundant Atlantic drum, harvested by commercial netters but seldom prominent in the angler’s catch. This small panfishlike species is good to eat, but it is more likely to be used by anglers as live bait for larger predators.

The closely related bairdiella, or gulf croaker (Bairdiella icistius), is one of a number of marine species introduced successfully to the Salton Sea from the Gulf of California. It grows to 12 inches there and is an important forage fish.

Identification

The body of the silver perch is high and compressed. As with others in the drum family, its dorsal fins are separated by a deep notch. There are five to six pores on the chin and no barbels. Its mouth is terminal and has finely serrated teeth. Its coloring is silvery, with yellowish fins and a whitish belly. It commonly has no spots.

The silver perch can be distinguished from the unrelated white perch by the dark stripes that line the sides. It can also be distinguished from the sand seatrout by its lack of prominent canine teeth and by its chin pores.

Size/Age

The average fish is less than 12 inches long and 1⁄2 pound or less; it never weighs more than a pound. The silver perch can live up to 6 years.

Life history/Behavior

The silver perch migrates offshore in the winter and returns inshore to breed in the spring. Spawning occurs inshore between May and September in shallow, saline areas. Silver perch reach maturity by their second or third year, when 6 inches long.

Food

Adults consume crustaceans, worms, and small fish.

Other Names

sand perch.

Distribution

Silver perch occur from New York southward along the Atlantic coast and also in the Gulf of Mexico.

Habitat

The silver perch is an inshore fish, most common in bays, seagrass beds, tidal creeks, small rivers, and quiet lagoons near estuaries. It is sometimes found in brackish marshes and also occasionally in freshwater.
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