Nebraska Game and Parks Commission


Date of this Version



Published in Nebraska Technical Series (1981) No. 8: 108 pages.


The white perch, Morone americana (Gmelinl, is a member of the Percichthyidae family. It is a euryhaline species that is common along the northern Atlantic coast south to the Carolinas. Marine, estuarine and freshwater ecosystems with salinities ranging from 5 to 18 percent have been known to support white perch (Mansueti 1964). The species is semianadromous, making spawning runs up coastal streams. It commonly becomes completely landlocked in ponds and reservoirs of its native range where it spawns successfully. This species has been known as a game fish to generations of New England fishermen, but when stocked in landlocked waters white perch have a tendency to become overpopulated and stunted, thereby usurping the food supply and reducing the growth rates of other more desirable game species (Thorpe 1942, Everhart 1950, Stroud 1952).

In 1964 the wh ite perch was brought into Nebraska in an effort to improve the sport fishery in a select group of alkaline lakes located in the Sandhills region. Adult perch were initially imported from New Jersey and allowed to spawn at the Valentine State Fish Hatchery. The progeny were used to stock the Sandh ill lakes. In the fall of 1964 white perch young-of-the-year were discovered in Wagon Train Reservoir in southeastern Nebraska. Although the source of these fish is not definitely known, it appears they were inadvertently introduced as advanced fry in June, 1964 with a stocking of largemouth bass fry. In this reservoir white perch numbers increased rapidly. This expansion and other pertinent population and historical information has been reported in the literature (Hergenrader and Bliss 1971).

In 1971 white perch were discovered in Stagecoach Reservoir located approximately 6.4 km west-southwest of Wagon Train Reservoir in Lancaster County. Here the white perch population increased dramatically, clearly following the trends experienced in the Wagon Train white perch population. Because of their small size, most Nebraska white perch were undesirable to anglers. Factors which contributed to this situation included high fecundity, high natural mortality after Age III, and food preference.

When management endeavors to enhance the desirability of this species failed in both reservoirs, total renovations were conducted after reservoir drawdowns in 1975 for Wagon Train and in 1976 for Stagecoach. Subsequent to the above eliminations, Lund (1978a) discovered a large population of white perch in Buckley 3F Reservoir in 1977. The significance of this population in the Little Blue River watershed lies in the fact that it is entirely separate from the Salt Creek drainage where Wagon Train and Stagecoach are located. Like the latter two reservoirs Buckley 3F was chemically renovated in July of 1980. Efforts to contain white perch in Nebraska have been successsful on a lake by lake basis, but the species has spread to other lakes and streams. An update on the current distribution and potential for dispersal is covered by Hergenrader (1980). In addition to the documented locations of white perch by the above author this species also occurs in other localities, most noteworthy of which is Offut Air Force Base Lake, a -64 ha sand pit located along the Missouri River in Sarpy County. Results from a 1978 survey indicate reproduction has occurred. Fortunately, no natural reproduction of white perch has been documented in any Nebraska streams (Maret 1978).

The objective of this report is to summarize all data gathered by or available to Nebraska Game and Parks on white perch in Nebraska. Most of the data will involve Wagon Train and Stagecoach Reservoirs, but where applicable, comparisons were related to data collected on white perch in smaller reservoirs. Since total elimination of this species in Nebraska appears remote, this should assist future strategies to manage white perch.