When Stanley Correll of Catawba Lakes Guide Service reported a tremendous catch of 53 flathead catfish up to 60 pounds from Tuckertown Lake this past Sunday, he predicted the bite might last through Thanksgiving.
For at least one day this week, he was correct. On Wednesday, on a 4 1/2-hour trip to Tuckertown, Correll’s party of three fishermen boated 45 more flatheads, including three in the 35-pound class, a handful more in the 20-pound class and dozens of fish between 5 and 15 pounds.
All without moving from the second spot he chose to fish.
The key, Correll said, was that the power company that operates the hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River were pulling water to generate power and set up a current in Tuckertown, a 2,560-acre reservoir that’s downstream from larger High Rock Lake and upstream from larger Badin Lake.
“That current is what gets it going,” he said at around 6:30 p.m., when he anchored up on his second spot and noticed that the water was moving. Pointing to his depth finder, he explained that decades of water moving through the narrow reservoir has scoured the lake bottom in the original river channel, just leaving rocks and boulders — behind which plenty of flatheads were hiding.
It didn’t take long. Within 15 minutes, four flatheads had hit the 4- and 5-inch gizzard shad Correll netted in one of Tuckertown’s creeks, one of them a 35-pounder. For the next four hours, the action was almost non-stop, with doubleheaders common and as many as three rods bucking at the same time. Rigs were simple Carolina rigs with either a live-bait style hook or a treble hook on the business end and a 2-ounce egg sinker above a barrel swivel. He instructed his fishermen to lower their baits to the bottom, then turn the reel handle two or three times so the baits were just a few inches off the bottom.
Correll (828-640-7203) who hails from Lenoir and does most of his guiding for stripers on Lake Hickory and smallmouth bass on Lake James, has fished Tuckertown for flatheads for the past 30 years, and he said he’s never seen the fishery better than it is now.
“I’ve never seen this many 5- to 15-pound flatheads in the lake, ever,” he said. “There’s so much bait in the lake; they’re just gorging on it.”
Correll fished the main river channel a few miles upstream from Tuckertown Dam, setting up anchors fore and aft on his pontoon boat and adjusting his position by letting out more anchor rope or pulling rope in. Most of the fish his party caught were in 28 to 35 feet of water.
“They like to hide behind the big rocks on the bottom of the channel,” he said, pointing to a fish arc adjacent to a boulder on the screen of his depth finder. “You’ll get several fish on at a time because they’re just lying down there, and if one of them gets hooked, it seems like the others come over to see what’s going on, and if there’s a bait in front of them, they’ll eat it.”
On Sunday night, Correll and a friend quit fishing after 10 hours on the water when they ran out of bait. On Wednesday night, the power company quit generating, and the current disappeared at about 10:45, ending the trip.