For better or for worse, white perch have become established at North Carolina’s Shearon Harris Reservoir because of what were likely unauthorized stockings.

According to guide Joel Munday of  Outdoor Expeditions Guide Service, white perch began showing up at Harris in 2001, and the prolific fish has exploded in numbers and grown in size ever since.

“The state-record white perch (weighing 2 pounds, 15 ounces) was caught at Falls of the Neuse in 2001,” said Munday (919-669-2959). “The world record is 3-1. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Harris fish topped both records. The lake has plenty of forage, and numerous white perch in the 2-pound class are already being caught, though most run from 1 to 11/2 pounds.”

Whereas bass fishermen consider them a nuisance because they compete for forage and can overrun a lake, youngsters and casual fishermen love them. White perch are willing strikers and don’t require a lot of minimum skills to catch them, making the scrappy fighters the perfect family fish.

“In a four-hour trip, it’s not uncommon to catch 80 to 100 white perch, which have no size or creel limit” Munday said. “I’m getting calls from clients who just want to catch fish and aren’t particular about what kind.”

White perch frequently mix with schools of bass and crappie, so clients might catch a variety of species in a hurry. They are any open-water fish that moves around, often chasing shad near the surface early and late and occasionally during the day. Any small spoon or topwater lure cast into the melee rarely makes it back to the boat.

During the day, concentrations of perch hold in 12 to 18 feet of water around points, humps, roadbeds and the old railroad trestle that crosses the upper end of the lake. They can be taken by casting or trolling small blade baits and spoons in chrome, silver and shad finishes.

Munday often positions his boat over a school of perch and has his clients release dropper rigs featuring a bell sinker and No. 1/0 Aberdeen hook holding a live crappie minnow or shad into the fish. He uses light spinning outfits loaded with 8-pound monofilament.

“If you fish from Holleman’s Crossing to (NC) Highway 42, it’s hard not to catch a mess of white perch,” Munday said.