With white perch populations expanding in many of North Carolina’s large impoundments, it was only a matter of time before someone figured a way to catch perch and other species at the same time – on a Sabiki rig.
Craig Price, a veteran guide at Lake Norman, didn’t invent the technique, but he uses it, mainly because the method suits younger clients during hot-weather periods.
“Most fish are deep now,” he said. “We’ve been catching fish with baits and lures staggered 15- to 40-feet deep over depths of 25 to 90 feet. We catch a lot of white perch from 1 to 1 ½ pounds, and one of my clients once had seven spotted bass on the same rod at the same time.
“I first started using it as a necessary evil with the demise of the striper fishery and the presence of white perch,” said Price (704-996-0946). “But this technique should work anywhere at any lake. We catch catfish, too.”
His terminal-tackle rig is actually a combination of lures, but mainly a Sabiki rig, normally jigged to snag saltwater baitfish in the Atlantic Ocean.
“I use Sabiki rigs with a jig or 3/8-ounce spoon tied to the bottom,” Price said. “That spoon catches other fish too, such as largemouths, spots, stripers and especially catfish.”
The spoons should weigh ½ to ¾ ounces and be attached to 15-pound-test main line by a swivel and an 18-inch leader. Some people prefer to tie dropper lines on the leader above a spoon and use soft-hackle flies with No. 8 hooks.
“I started using streamer flies, like you would for trout fishing, not the tiny hooks that come with Sabiki rigs,” he said. “They tend to catch bigger perch, and I tie them (onto the Sabiki leader) with heavier dropper lines.”
Price likened a Sabiki rig to the Alabama rigs that feature multiple soft-plastic lures used to target largemouth and spotted bass. He said Sabiki rigs should help fishermen who need to catch live perch for bait when they want to target flathead catfish.
“You can put white perch on a Carolina rig and put them down in different levels of the water column,” he said. “Flatheads love white perch, and (white perch) will also catch big largemouth bass, stripers, spotted bass, hybrid bass and blue catfish.”
The basic technique is to cruise slowly over deep water and look for suspended fish. During the summer, fish will be at or near the thermocline, which holds the most oxygen and is a comfortable area.
Fishing a Sabiki rig is simple – lower the baits/lures to the proper depth, then simply lift the rod tip quickly and let it fall to grab a fish’s attention. Then set the hook when a fish bites.
“It’s not unusual to have fish on every lure on a Sabiki rig,” Price said, “sometimes three or four at a time. You might have a spotted bass, largemouth bass and white perch on your hooks at the same time.”
Price said big Lake Norman flatheads or blue catfish weighing as much as 40 pounds also may attack jigged spoons tipped with cut pieces of white perch.