Mild winter points to great warm-weather fishing
For anglers itching to catch some catfish in June, Kerr Lake on the North Carolina/Virginia border could be just what the doctor ordered.
On the 49,500-acre reservoir, big blue catfish will be following a climate that’s running ahead of schedule and nestle into their summer routine of chasing shad along the main-lake channel. Michael Lawrence, director of the Ice Bowl Catfish Tournament — held annually at Kerr —will be there to get the drop on them.
“We had such a mild winter,” said Lawrence, of Scottsburg, Va. “The water temperature is usually not as warm as it is right now. And June will probably be a little warmer than usual, too. I think you’ll see people covering water in the actual lake, instead of in the creeks, as the blues look for cooler water.”
According to Lawrence, anglers will find larger fish on deep-water ledges along the main channel and points. On the lower end of the lake, where the water is deeper, the target depth can range from 35 to 40 feet deep. On the shallower, upper end, an angler should be looking at 18 to 25 feet. In the morning, anglers are apt to find fish on the shallower end of the spectrum as they move up points and on top of the ledges they will later fall into as temperatures rise.
Drift for catfish on calm days, anchor when it’s rough
“A ledge that has a steep transition and cover like logs or stumps on the deeper side is a good place to look,” Lawrence said. “Fish hang around deep cover during the daytime. If conditions are fairly calm, drifting or power-drifting is a good way to cover the area. If it’s not, anchoring up on the edge is an effective way to fish the shallow and deeper side of the ledge at the same time. You can catch fish as they are transitioning depths.”
Lawrence favors 30-pound mono main-line and an 18- to 24-inch leader of 60-pound mono for his spread of rods in most scenarios. But he will bump it up a bit if the cover is particularly heavy. Santee rigs will be presenting a bait of cut gizzard shad. But occasionally carp filets are on the menu. Depending on its size, the bait will be pinned to an 8/0 to 12/0 circle hook.
Lawrence prefers smaller baits for finicky biters when the water warms. A 1- to 2-ounce sliding sinker above the swivel will keep the rig on the bottom. A cigar float pegged 6 to 8 inches above the hook on the 18- to 24-inch leader will keep the offering from dragging in the mud.
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