According to Maynard Edwards of Yadkin Lakes Guide Service, targeting catfish is a phenomenal and widely overlooked way to spend a summer day on High Rock Lake.
“Channel cats from 4 to 8 pounds rule throughout the summer, with double-digit fish up to 15 pounds a possibility, and flatheads up to 40 pounds are plentiful,” said Edwards (336-249-6782). “Blue catfish were once scarce, but now blues are showing up in catches at catfish tournaments.”
While Edwards primarily targets channel cats for his clients by slow-trolling with cut bait along the lake bottom — a technique he’s dubbed “strolling” — any of the three catfish species might end up at the end of a hook.
“Flatheads prefer live bait, but occasionally they’ll inhale the cut bait that’s passes by their noses,” said Edwards, whose spread for channel cats consists of six to eight medium/heavy rods with Okuma baitcasting reels spooled with 16- to 25-pound line.
When he’s strolling for cats on the main body, he employs Carolina rigs with 11/2- to 2-ounce glider weights of his own design with Kahle hooks holding the cut shad.
During the summer, Edwards looks for channel cats on flats, high spots and channel edges near deep water along the main body of the lake.
“The mouth of Panther Creek has a number of flats and high spots, so it’s one of my favorite places for slow-trolling,” said Edwards. “There are productive areas at the mouths of most of the major creeks.”
Given high-water conditions, Edwards changes tactics.
“I’ll leave the main body and go to the backs of Abbotts and Swearing creeks and slow-troll for channel cats in 5 feet of water,” he said. “The fish are often stacked in the creek backs.”
For fishing the backs of creeks, Edwards uses heavy duty Extreme Tracker planer boards with 1-ounce weights. He creeps along to keep the lines from pulling free from the clips on the planer boards.
“When you locate the fish, several rods will go down at once,” Edwards. “The action keeps my clients happy and me busy.”
Edwards said water coloration doesn’t matter much to cats. They’ll hit in nasty-looking water.
Threadfin shad are abundant at High Rock, and a few throws with a cast net along the NC 8 bridge across Abbotts Creek or nearby windblown nooks should yield enough bait for the day.