Sensational white perch action has cranked up at Lake Wateree, with big catches of huge perch being made across the lake. Sumter’s Chuck Porter said this heralds the beginning of a run of big, white perch through June.
“Getting in on the first of the action is the key,” he said. “Now I can follow the fish for several weeks. During May and June, the fish really bunch up into huge schools, and when you locate them, you can literally catch lots of fish in the10-inch to 12-inch and larger size class – and often catch them two or three at a time. Since there’s no limit on them, you can keep all you care to clean. Plus they are great eating fish.”
Porter finds and catches bigger perch several different ways.
“Of course, there’s a lot of small perch, and you have to leave those quickly if you find them,” he said. “But the larger perch will often school on the surface – not like the white bass did when they were in Lake Wateree, but there will be some schooling action and that will tell you where they are.
“I use a double-spoon rig and cast into them and catch them two at a time doing that. When they sound, I get right over them and jig the spoon vertically off the bottom. I’ll find them water varying from 12- to 30-feet deep and usually along a hump, drop or ledge.
“I have rods rigged with multiple hooks and use minnows or even cut strips of the small perch I catch to make great bait,” he said. “These fish, when schooled in large groups, are voracious feeders and will bite almost anything. Plus they’re hard-fighting fun fish to catch, and as table fare, I rank them right up there with some of the best freshwater fish – as do many anglers.”
“I also use my graph for finding fish in big schools, and sometimes you’ll locate a big school and can anchor right on top of them and catch them with artificial lures, minnows, worms or cut bait,” he said. “Generally, I catch a good number of blue and channel catfish on a typical day of fishing for white perch, so it’s almost a double whammy in terms of fish production.”
Porter said since the action has started, once anglers find perch, they can keep up with them for several weeks.
“Perch usually don’t move far, but they do move around daily, and that’s why each day you have to locate them again, but they’ll usually be in the same general area,” he said. “The fishing is good from the dam all the way up the lake, but the middle part of the lake in the June Creek area is known to be very good.”
Porter said a lot of lakes have great perch fishing, but Wateree is his favorite.
“Right now, it’s hard to not catch perch on Lake Wateree,” he said. “Find the large fish and get in on fast action on this prolific species.”