July usually is too hot and humid for anglers to chase most varieties of freshwater fish except two - mountain trout and catfish.

Few lakes offer a better opportunity to wrestle with a monster catfish than John H. Kerr Reservoir (aka Buggs Island). The 49,500-acre impoundment of the Dan and Staunton rivers that hugs the North Carolina-Virginia border is home to many giant catfish, along with other varieties, and the bite is on.

"We catch blue cats, flatheads, channel cats and other kinds of catfish," said guide Keith Wall of Wall's Big Cat Guide Service.


 A native of the region who has fished the lake all his life, Wall said July and August are two of the best months for catfish anglers.


"I caught a 32-pound blue catfish at 8:30 a.m. on July 23, and that was just one of several," said Wall (434-374-4028). "We caught some blues and channel cats. I mainly go for flatheads and blues, but we'll catch whatever else comes along."


Recently, most of the flatheads have been "up the river," Wall said.


"They've been spawning up the Dan, just finished laying their eggs and are just starting to come back down the river," he said.


Most fishermen target flatheads at night with live bait.


"They like live bream and crappie," Wall said. "If I'm going to take people fishing the next day, I'll go catch a mess of bream or crappie the evening before."


Although catfish at Buggs Island "will bite most of the time," Wall said he likes to go when he knows the bite's hot or after an inch or two of rain.


"I don't really know why they bite good after rain, except there are big green worms that look like nightcrawlers that come out of the banks of the Dan after a rain, and the catfish must like to eat them," said Wall, 40, who concentrates on the area upstream from the US 58 bridge to Buffalo Creek and Holiday Shores.


Blue catfish prefer chunks of filleted white perch and crappie.


"I don't fish real deep water," Wall said. "I like to find moving water in a channel. If the current's not moving, you won't have much luck."