Kerr Lake catfish on fire

Big blue catfish will be patrolling the edges of the main-river channel at Kerr Lake this month, as well as the mouth of major creeks.

Cooling water gives bite a jump-start

Falling water temperatures plus plentiful blue catfish equals abundant catches this month at Kerr Lake on the North Carolina/ Virginia border. While techniques remain largely the same as summer, the fishes’ attitudes will be improved, and an angler who intercept them on their highways is in store for a big day.

“If you need a confidence booster, you can go to Kerr Lake in November and catch some fish,” said guide Wes Jordan of Creedmoor, N.C.  “As long as you’ve got fresh bait — it’s game on — the fish will be eating that time of year.”

According to Jordan (919-619-5753), who runs Redbeard Cats Guide Service, the biggest difference between fall and summer fishing is that blues will be on the move from the slightly shallower water where they had set up to stay above the thermocline to deeper spots in the 30- to 50-foot range.

“They use the channels to navigate to where they’re going,” he said, “so I set up and drift on the edges. I’ll catch a lot of fish in the middle of the lake, in the river channel and the creeks channels going to it. But they won’t necessarily be on the bottom. As the water cools, the fish will move around in the water column.”

While Jordan may be more apt to use his trolling motor to present baits in the summer, the general breeziness of fall allows him to throw out a pair of drift socks to control his speed and use the wind to cover ground at around .5 mph.

For starters, he throws out a couple of slip bobbers off the stern, setting them from 16 to 30 feet deep, depending on where he’s marking fish. Then, he’ll run four to six bottom baits on Santee rigs, placing a couple directly behind the boat and using planer boards to spread out the rest. He’ll also place two downlines beneath the boat, set to the depth of catfish arches. He uses 30-pound Slime Line mono as his main line and 50-pound mono for the leaders attached to 9/0 or 10/0 Mustad Demon circle hooks baited with cut gizzard shad or white perch.  The baits are weighted by a 1- to 1½-ounce homemade slinky weight.

“If I’m fishing the upper end of the lake, I’m generally fishing between Bluestone Creek and the Occoneechee State Park. The area between the bridges gets pretty hot that time of year. But, when I fish down the lake, I fish the creek mouths to about a third of the way into the creeks because they’re deeper than those in the upper lake.”

About Dusty Wilson 274 Articles
Dusty Wilson of Raleigh, N.C., is a lifelong outdoorsman. He is the manager of Tarheel Nursery in Angier and can be followed on his blog at