Summer does not have to mean a decline in fishing potential — especially for blue catfish. According to guide Wes Jordan of Creedmoor, N.C., blues will be actively feeding throughout Kerr Lake, aka Buggs Island, but their depth range will run the gamut, and an angler wanting to load up will have to cover the water column.
Jordan (919-619-5753), who runs Redbeard Cats Guide Service, follows a couple of patterns for late-summer blues. The first centers around mussel beds on main-lake points — found in the highest concentration on the lower end of Kerr’s 50,000 acres and easily detectable by hard sonar returns. The second keys on large schools of baitfish that can also be spotted via sonar or the naked eye in the early mornings or evenings when they are nearest the surface. The good news is that with enough rods, he can target both at the same time.
“You can catch fish on a slip bobber 5 feet under the surface or on the bottom in 40 feet,” Jordan said. “I’ll start fishing in 30 to 40 feet, following the contours around main lake points as I troll at a 1/2 to 1 mile per hour and push up on the point if I’m catching fish on the shallow end. You can catch fish in shallow water, but they’re not going to be far from deep water. Most big cats are going to be somewhere where they can get relief from the heat and then come up at certain times to feed.”
Jordan starts testing the depths at around 10 feet with one of three slip bobbers running straight out from the back of the boat, while the other two are set at 15 and 20 feet deep. Next, he casts a pair of traditional Santee rigs with a 1½- to 2-ounce slinky weight to drag bottom. On either side of the boat, he deploys one or two planer boards with the Santee rigs.
If more fish are hitting the slip bobbers, he uses the board to act as a float, and clips the line to suspend the bait below it. Up front, he hangs four downlines with Carolina rigs and 3-ounce egg sinkers, suspended between 20 and 25 feet.
Jordan’s cut bait choice leads off with white perch — because of how easy they are to catch with a Sabiki rig. Gizzard shad are a close second. Jordan also keeps a number of small perch as live bait, suspending them on slip bobbers to pull through bait schools. He hooks them through the jaw with a 7/0 circle hook instead of the 10/0 he uses with cut bait. To increase hookups, he adds a trailer J-hook, tied from the eye of the initial hook and pierced below the dorsal fin.