USGS - science for a changing world

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

  Home About NPWRC Our Science Staff Employment Contacts Common Questions About the Site

Fishes of North Dakota

Perch Family

Perch Family

Members of the perch family have two dorsal fins that are completely separated. The first fin is spiny while the second fin has soft rays. Walleye, sauger, and yellow perch are popular members of this family. Darters, which seldom exceed four inches in length, also belong to the perch family.


Walleye are a dark-olive color with an over-all golden brown mottling and white belly. A black blotch on the lower rear portion of the front dorsal fin helps identify the walleye. They prefer sand and gravel bottom areas, habitat commonly found in our large reservoirs. They are also called wall-eyed pike.
JPG -- Picture of a Walleye.

JPG -- Picture of a Sauger.


The sauger resembles the walleye but is usually not as large or as stockily built. It has a blotched body color and rows of dark spots on the dorsal fin instead of the one black blotch of the walleye. Sauger typically inhabit fairly fast moving water of rivers and streams. It is also known as sand pike. The saugeye is a cross between a walleye and sauger but cannot be positively identified by external physical characteristics.

Yellow Perch

Yellow-green in color, perch have six to eight dark bars running up and down its sides. They have two spines and 6-8 soft rays in the anal fin while walleye and sauger have two spines and 11-14 soft rays in the anal fin, which should help identify them when they are small. Being easy to catch in both summer and winter and of good eating quality, the yellow perch is a popular fish. However, it is often stunted and needs heavy fishing pressure to keep its numbers in line with available food.
JPG -- Picture of a Yellow Perch.

JPG -- Picture of a Johnny Darter.

Johnny Darter

The Johnny darter is one of several species of darters found in North Dakota. The male Iowa darter is brilliantly colored during breeding season. Darters live in swift moving streams and apparently are not an important food fish for larger fish because of their small size and habit of hiding under rocks and in crevices.

Previous Section -- Pike Family
Return to Contents
Next Section -- Sunfish Family

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Saturday, 02-Feb-2013 04:35:36 EST
Sioux Falls, SD [sdww54]