If you want to catch white perch, catfish or possibly a spotted bass, Lake Norman is a good bet.

"White perch are stacked up right now at Norman," said David "Buck" Roser of Huntersville.

Even though he dialed back his guiding business after the economy's collapse and with fuel prices sky-rocketing, he'll still take a few clients to Norman, a 32,500-acre lake north of Charlotte. But all it takes is a good depthfinder to load the boat with white perch.


"If you know how to read a fishfinder, you can pull up to a spot that looks like a brush pile (on the bottom), but it'll be a school of white perch," Roser said. "You can catch them until you don't want to catch anymore."


One of the best ways to catch perch - and often flathead catfish and bass - is to fish with a cut-down Sabiki rig in tandem with a Tackletown spoon.


"We cut off two or three of the hooks and tie on Tackletown spoons that have Pyrex rattles in them," Roser said.


That arrangement attracts spotted bass and flathead catfish, but white perch are the mainstay. And with some of the panfish weighing a pound, four or five perch on the same rig can wear out anglers' arms - not to mention what happens if a big flathead bites.


"These rigs catch spotted bass, too, but the stripers are about gone," said Roser (980-297-1838).


Roser said he's got a couple of tricks that will also catch blue catfish, one of Norman's primary predator fish nowadays.


"You have to scale white perch (filets) before you put them on the hooks," he said. "You can fish an unscaled piece of perch and go all day without a bite."


Roser's second "secret" came from Mac Byrum, a retired Lake Norman catfish guru.


"He buys chicken breast when it's on sale, cuts it into finger-size strips, puts garlic powder on it, wraps it and lets it sit in the refrigerator until he's ready to use it," Roser said. "The garlic releases protein in the meat and, of course, it's got a strong smell. The old-timers at Santee invented it. I've put garlic on cut bait and bream chunks, and it works with them, too. The good thing is white perch won't mess with this bait. If you use shad, perch will make your rod tip bounce like you were fishing for spots or something at the coast."