This section is from the book "Frank Forrester's Fishermens' Guide", by Frank Forrester.
There are four distinct specimens of this fish inhabiting American waters, viz.: the Common Perch, the Yellow Perch, the White Perch, and the Black or Red Perch. The Common Perch is of brown olive tinge, mingled with golden hue, and has dark bands across its sides. The first dorsal fin is larger than the second, and all the fins are tinged with a lively red when first taken from the. water. Length usually from five to fifteen inches. The Yellow Perch averages a little larger in size, with a small head tapering towards its mouth. Its jaws contain a large number of minute teeth. Its back is of olive brown color - sides yellow, and belly white. The stripes across its sides are brown, as are also its dorsal and pectoral fins. The ventral and anal fins are of beautiful scarlet color. The White Perch has double nostrils and minute teeth. Its general color is whitish, with a dark hue - pale back and white sides - eyes large and pale. Its length is usually about eight inches. Black or Red Perch are so called from the different appearance of the fish at different times. Just previous to the breeding season it is of a dark red tinge. After getting entirely through spawning it becomes so dark that the red nearly disappears. Its tail is slightly forked, and its jaws are set with fine sharp teeth. In the Western States this fish grows to the length of two feet, and is known as the Brown Bass. They are an excellent fish for eating and are easily taken. The perch is a bold and ravenous fish, and fears neither the pike, the bass, or any other enemies of the small fry. He is sometimes eaten by them, but very seldom, in consequence of his back fin being large and armed with bristling points.
Perch are taken at all seasons of the year, but are in the best condition for the table in April, May, June and July. They spawn in March, are very slow in growth, but multiply exceedingly fast. The best time to fish for them is in the morning before ten o'clock, and late in the afternoon. Perch being sociable fish, usually move together in numbers, and these are generally of a nearly similar size. If, therefore, you catch one in a particular hole, it is your own fault if you do not get a good string of them from the same place.
A light stiff rod, with short line, float and sinker, is all that is necessary for perch. The usual bait is the common angleworm, which they will take as soon as anything. Shad spawn is sometimes used in the shad season, and minnows in the Spring of the year. When the stream in which you are fishing runs into salt water, shrimp will be found a good bait. Hooks to be used are Limerick trout, Nos. 4 to 7, according to the size of your fish.
The Yellow Perch, which is very plenty in the North Western waters of the United States, attains a large growth in the Lakes - some of them weighing three pounds and more. In the streams and ponds, from half to three quarters of a pound are the common weights. They are caught there at all seasons. Expert anglers use the minnow in catching perch, and early in the season they will bite very readily at that bait. Impale the minnow alive and lively on a No. 9 trout hook - stick the hook either under the back fin or through the upper lip - use a few shots for a sinker about ten inches from the hook, and have a cork large enough to prevent the minnow from sinking it. With this arrangement you must fix. your line to keep the bait about mid-water. Small live frogs are frequently used for perch with success, fixed in the same way as the minnow.
The best way to cook perch is to fry them in pork fat, first frying some salt pork in the pan. Pork fat procured in this way is superior to lard or butter in frying any kind of fish.