Sacramento perch is the only native sunfish to the west coast region. Its original range was the California river drainages of the Sacramento–San Joaquin, Pajaro, and Salinas, where it once flourished. Channelization of the Delta and the introduction of other sunfish have greatly diminished their numbers. Sacramento perch have been widely introduced throughout the west.
The preferred habit for Sacramento perch is slow, heavily vegetated sloughs, streams, rivers and lakes. They are more tolerant of brackish waters than most sunfish.
Sacramento perch are brown bodied, sporting darker vertical stripes. Their body shape is a typical sunfish compressed oval. They have a black spot on the ear flap behind the eye. Historically, they have been known to grow to 24 inches, weighing as much as 8 pounds. However, most specimens are more in the 10-14 inch class. It has a life span of 6 years or more.
Sexually mature by their second or third year, Sacramento perch differ from other sunfish in they don’t typically build or guard nests. Spawning occurs late spring over stones and vegetation in shallow water, under 24 inches deep. The females scatter their eggs over the area as the male fertilizes them. While some males have been observed guarding the eggs from predators, parental care is generally minimal.
Diet for Sacramento Perch is varied, with adults being primarily piscivores. It is the nature of this species to opportunistically feed on the most abundant food resource during its life cycle. They are known to feed at all hours, but typically are most active around dawn and dusk. Young fish feed heavily on small crustaceans and insect larvae changing over to fishes as they grow.
Sacramento Perch in Colorado
Courtesy of NDIS, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Status: This species is not listed.Summary: Tolerant of saline water, the Sacramento perch has been experimentally planted in some Colorado waters where high salt concentrations are coupled with only mediocre fish production. Actually a sunfish, the Sacramento differs from all others of the family in that there is no parental care of the eggs. Spawning occurs in May through August. The Sacramento deposits eggs on stones and plants in 8-24 inches of water without constructing a nest. The Sacramento perch is caught in the same manner as all other sunfish.