Perch are green to a darker green in color fish with light or yellowish whiteish belly with an orange tail and pec fins. The most significant identifier when it comes to a perch is the black bars that run vertically down its body. Perch are sought after by many anglers for the good table fair they offer and nice fight they can produce on ultralight tackle. But once fought a lot of questions arise if you can hold a perch by the mouth or do perch have teeth that can hurt you? Let’s find out more.
Do perch have teeth? Yes, perch have very small grit-like teeth that are comparable to sandpaper. Unlike other types of fish, perch have no canine teeth. These teeth help the perch eat and common food sources for a perch would be small minnows and insects.
What are the most common types of perch?
The most common types of perch are the yellow perch, white perch, and depending on where you live the black perch is popular. Yellow is the most common species within the United States. All of the most common species of perch have some form of teeth to help catch prey to eat.
Do both yellow and white perch have the same type of teeth?
Yes. These perch types are very similar and share the same type of teeth structure. They both eat the same types of forage in waters and hold on to prey by the use of those grit-like teeth.
What are the most common types of food perch eat?
Perch eat smaller fish like minnows and other fish they can get in their mouths. Even those small teeth like sandpaper can grip a smaller fish and prevent them from escaping.
Other meals for perch can be shrimp and small crayfish. They will also eat larvae like mayflies and dragonflies if they are available. For anglers, hook size matters because of the small size of a perch mouth.
Once a perch gets hold of a meal with the use of their small sandpaper-like teeth they have crushing pads at the back of the mouth that helps to then break down the catch for an easier time swallowing.
Can you grab a perch by the lips if they have teeth?
Yes. Similar to that of a largemouth bass or smallmouth bass you will have the same type of small grit-like sandpaper feel will allow you as an angler to crab a perch by its mouth. Perch for their size still have a strong jaw that helps them catch and hold onto small prey.
With that said there is a proper way to hold any fish when you can grab them by the mouth and that is to also support their belly with your other hand in order not to damage the fish’s jaw.
Regardless of how small or light the fish is it is always good practice to support the fish’s weight when lifting them by the mouth with one hand under the belly.
Do perch have strong jaws?
For their size, they have jaws that are strong enough to grasp and hold on to prey easily. The upper fixed jaw does not move like the bottom jaw does and like all fish when the perch opens its mouth quickly water rushes in causing a suction or flow inwards that also traps small food in the perch’s mouth where the teeth help to grasp and keep pray from getting way.
What can hurt you when handling a perch?
Spines on most fish can deliver a nasty spike and perch are no different. Perch are prey for other larger fish like pike and largemouth bass so they do have a defense mechanism. The dorsal fins of a perch when upright can cause a nasty spike. When raised up they can produce a needle-like spike. Folding them back towards the body lowered the spines.
Another more common area that a lot of anglers learn quickly to steer clear of is the gill plates. There is a single spine that a lot of first-time perch fishermen get jabbed with.
While perch do not have traditional teeth like other fish that can inflict major damage to an angler if they reach into the fish’s mouth perch have a grit-like feel that will not damage the angler’s fingers when they reach into the perch’s mouth.
These fish are very popular for beginners and highly experienced anglers alike for their ability to stack up to provide a lot of fun and excitement on light tackle. With that said remember to be careful around the dorsal spines and Gil plate when handling these fish.