With the heat on across North Carolina, many fishermen have taken to after-dark trips, but Chris Bullock, a veteran guide on John H. Kerr Reservoir has been knocking out plenty of black crappie and white perch on daytime trips.

“I don’t fish at night, but I can take ’em to brush piles during the day,” said Bullock, who runs Kerr Crappie and Cats Guide Service (252-902-4039). “People are fishing at night for the big catfish, blues and flatheads, while the noodlers are doing well in the day.

“I think some of the crappie are feeding at night, too, but I usually can find a good brush pile,” who said he has more than 1,500 brush piles marked on his GPS unit.

Not only are Bullock’s clients landing crappies, but an explosion of white perch at Kerr Lake, aka Buggs Island, has changed many a brush pile from a crappie mine to a perch haven.

“I took two guys (last week), and we fished from 7 to 11 a.m. and caught 84 fish,” Bullock said. “We had a mixture, approximately 30 crappies, with 16 or 17 keepers big enough to fillet including one that was 15 ¼ inches long, a 10-pound flathead, a 4-pound largemouth bass, six or seven white bass and 30 or so white perch.”

Bullock is not totally thrilled with the white perch taking over some of his brush piles, but he’ll make the most of it.

“Normally, they hang out on the bottom, but when they sense feeding activity, they come up to investigate and start feeding, too,” Bullock said. “A lot of times I’ll catch three or four crappie out of the top of a brush pile, then nothing after that but white perch.”

The perch aren’t always eating size, but in his most recent catch he had about a dozen weighing ¾ to 1 ¼ pounds, big enough to fillet.

Bullock and his clients are doing their damage with a 3/8-ounce Cotton Cordell jigging spoon.

“I get right over a brush pile, and if it’s 20 feet to the bottom with the top of the brush 10 feet, I ask my clients to drop to the bottom, then reel up so the jigs are 10 feet from the surface,” said Bullock, who is using 6-foot, medium-action outfits and 10-pound line, changing out the hooks that come on his spoons with razor-sharp No. 6 Gamakatsu hooks, using a snap swivel and a short leader to prevent line twist.

“Fishing will be like this for the rest of the summer,” Bullock said. “I love taking kids because the fishing’s so easy. They can have fun because they’re always catching something; it keeps ’em busy.”

Crappie will get larger as fall approaches and the water cools.

“We’ll land a bunch of 1 ½- to 1 ¾-pound crappie in the fall,” said Bullock, a 51-year-old resident of the Pitt County town of Fountain who keeps a camper near Townsville on Kerr’s Nutbush Creek.