The Best Time to Fish for Perch (By Season & Weather Conditions)

Perch or Yellow Perch as they are called in the United States are one of the top species anglers like to target in North America and Europe, as they are a ton of fun to catch.

However, there are times when perch are feeding aggressively and not at all, which can make them a frustrating species to target. What causes this?

It is all to do with weather and the time of day.

When is the best time to fish for perch?

Generally speaking, you should be fishing for perch in lower light conditions and when the water temperature is optimal.

If it is too hot or too cold, the perch turn off and the same goes when there is too much or too little light. This makes late afternoons into sunset the right time to fish for perch but it does change with the seasons and general weather conditions.

Let’s look in detail at when perch will be most aggressive across all the seasons so that you are always fishing for them at the right time.

A Complete Seasonal Guide for When to Go Perch Fishing

In this complete guide, we are first going to look at what time of day in summer, fall, winter, and spring you should be fishing for perch. Afterwhich, we look at how general weather conditions also affect their feeding behavior.

But, first let’s understand how perch hunt for their prey, as this is a key insight into the conditions they prefer to be aggressive in.

yellow perch is caught spinning

How do Perch Like to Hunt?

Perch have eyes that absorb a lot of light and therefore give them excellent vision in lower light conditions. They use this to their advantage as in low light they can see extremely well whereas their prey can not.

This gives a perch a distinct tactical advantage in the early mornings and late afternoons as they can outsmart their prey while expending less energy, and this is therefore when they choose to feed the most.

What else Affects a Perch’s Feeding Behavior?

Water temperature is the other main factor that will affect how a perch feeds. If the water is too hot or too cold, they will head to deeper parts of a river or lake where the water temperature is more optimal.

They will slow their metabolism down to conserve energy as they have to expend a lot of energy to maintain their body temperature. This causes them to be slow, lethargic, and a lot less aggressive.

Now, let’s apply this knowledge to what time of day is best to catch perch in each season.

When is the Best Time of Day to Catch Perch?

The best time of day is when the water temperature is optimal and the light is low.

This is in the late afternoon and in the early mornings most of the time but, depending on the weather it can be all day, or one or the other.

Is it Better to Go Fishing for Perch in the Morning or Evening?

Generally speaking, fishing in the afternoon or evening will deliver better results when targeting perch than fishing in the morning.

This is because the water temperature in the morning can be a little too cold throughout the seasons for the perch to be aggressive. Whereas, by the afternoon it has had a chance to heat up.

However, this does change across the seasons, which we will look at in more detail below.

large perch caught on a soft bait on angler hands

Perch Fishing by Season

When Should You Fish for Perch in the Summer?

Generally speaking, you should be fishing for perch between sunrise and 9 am and/or 4 pm and sunset during the summer.

This is because these times of the day provide the lower light conditions perch like to take advantage of and in summer, they offer the most optimal water temperatures too.

In the summer, the water can get too hot for perch in the middle of the day and they would rather sit in deeper water, conserving their energy, until it cools down.

The midday sun is also extremely bright and this makes them a less effective predator as their prey can see them coming.

The only exception to this rule is when it is very cloudy and a colder spell of weather has come through. This will have reduced the water temperature and the light conditions to create the perch’s ideal feeding conditions.

When Should You Fish for Perch in the Fall?

In early fall, the lower light conditions of both the early morning and late afternoon/evening are the right times to be fishing for perch.

The water temperature during these times is still optimal and there is the right amount of light for them to take advantage of their prey’s bad eyesight.

However, in late fall, you should start avoiding the early mornings and focus on the later afternoons/evenings. This is due to the cooling of the water temperatures and in the morning, the water will start to be a little too cold for the perch to be aggressive.

But, by the afternoon it should have warmed up enough to get the perch feeding more actively again.

Again, weather conditions can change this. If you have a few warm sunny days in late fall, the morning session can be very productive, as can a rainy/cloudy lunchtime session.

Fall is an amazing time to fish for perch as they will be trying to eat as much as possible to put on fat stores for the cold winter. This makes them less fussy and very aggressive, so you should catch more than ever.

winter perch fishing on softbaits

When Should You Fish for Perch in the Winter?

In the winter, the water is very cold and sometimes you even have to go ice fishing for perch. This means that early mornings are not the best time to go perch fishing as the water will be too cold and the perch will be lazy.

By the late afternoon though, the water will have heated up enough for the perch to start being more active, and this is the right time to go and catch some winter perch.

Winter perch will not be as aggressive as they are in the other seasons as the water is a bit cold and their metabolism will have slowed down, but they will still feed at the right time of day.

Be sure to fish a little deeper with your perch lures where the warmer water is and if you find a shoal, you might pull out quite a few fish.

When Should You Fish for Perch in the Spring?

In early spring, the perch will still be behaving as if it is winter. This means the right combination of water temperature and low light conditions will occur in the late afternoon.

As the water starts to warm up, the perch will become more and more active. It is a sign that winter has passed and it is time for them to start feeding heavily to make up for the weight they lost over winter.

By mid-spring, the water temperatures should have risen enough to make an early morning session worthwhile as well as an afternoon session too. This is also when perch spawn and they will need to put on some weight before that, and therefore will be feeding aggressively.

There will also be a point in spring where the water temperature stays optimal all day long, as it won’t have heated up to uncomfortable levels quite yet. When this happens in combination with cloudy dark weather conditions, the perch can feed aggressively all day long.

Can You Fish for Perch at Night?

You can fish for perch at night, and quite successfully I might add. But, you need to be looking for optimal light conditions and water temperatures.

Can you work out when this might be?

In the late spring, summer, and early fall, on a clear night with a full moon, you will find the low light conditions and water temperatures that perch love to hunt in.

Outside of the seasons mentioned above, even on a full moon, the water will probably be too cold at night and the perch will be sitting deep, saving their energy for when it warms up in the afternoon.

trophy perch caught

The Best Weather Conditions for Perch Fishing

Now that we have covered the seasons, let’s take a deeper look at how the weather can affect how perch feed and what weather conditions they like the most.

Generally speaking, the best weather for perch fishing is overcast, with light drizzle and mild temperatures.

But why?

It all comes back to water temperature and light conditions again. When it is cloudy, the perch retain the low light conditions they love to hunt in, and if you add some light rain, the light is even lower too.

Light rain, cloud cover, and mild temperatures also help to regulate the water temperature keeping it in their optimal range for longer and sometimes all day.

The rain also oxygenates the water and provides more cover for the perch. Plus makes turbulent waters their prey find hard to navigate, something the perch have to take advantage of.

With cloud, rain, and mild temperatures, the sun has less of a heating effect on the water over midday, which means the perch don’t have to go deep and wait for the afternoon for it to cool off.

How does Barometric Pressure Affect Perch?

Barometric pressure is the pressure the atmosphere pushes down on the earth. High barometric pressure equals sunny skies whereas low barometric pressure equals cloudy skies.

Perch love a low barometric pressure that is stable and not increasing. For some reason, it turns them on and they become very aggressive.

They also love it when the barometric pressure is moving from high to low, and it is during these pressure changes that you might have the best perch fishing session of your life.

What is it about these barometric conditions that make perch so aggressive?

In high-pressure conditions, a lot of weight is being pushed on the water. Now, humans are used to this and won’t feel the pressure changes, but it does affect micro-organisms such as zooplankton and insect larvae.

If you know your freshwater biology, you’ll know that zooplankton is the main food source for small baitfish and insects, a perch’s main food source.

During high pressure systems, the zooplankton is forced to the bottom by the additional pressure, but in low pressure systems, it is allowed to rise up in the water column.

This creates a feeding frenzy as all the small bait fish and insects follow the zooplankton as it rises and the perch follow too. What you end up with is a bait ball which the perch gorge themselves on.

Is Wind Good for Perch Fishing?

Wind can be excellent for perch fishing, but not all wind.

If the wind comes from the south, chances are it is bringing cloud cover and lower barometric pressure which the perch love.

Plus, southerly winds are associated with mild temperatures in the northern hemisphere. If there is a south wind, go and catch some perch.

Are Sunny Days as Good as Cloudy Ones?

Sunny days make for terrible perch fishing and this is due to the light intensity. The sun is so bright that it puts the perch off and they hide in deeper depths. But, they will still come out to feed in the early morning and late evening when the light conditions are less intense.

Sunshine also warms up the water, something perch do not like in the warmer months, making early morning and later afternoon the best times to fish for them.

Winding Up

You should now have an excellent idea of what time of day and what weather conditions will be most productive for perch fishing.

Always think about how the seasons and weather are affecting lighting intensity and water temperatures, and you will be able to predict when great perch fishing is likely to happen.

Please share the article around with your perch fishing buddies and leave us any questions or comments you have below. We would love to hear from you!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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