White perch highlight the Albemarle Sound’s mixed bag fishery
On the rivers of North Carolina’s Albemarle Sound, September is catching time, and healthy white perch are the main ingredient in a mixed bag fishery. According to guide Jeff Onley of Edenton, N.C., you only need a couple of baits and a steady retrieve.
“If we’re catching 50 to 100 fish, it’s going to be mostly white perch,” said Onley (252-333-6524), owner and operator of Albemarle Fishing Charters. “But we’ll catch yellow perch, flounder, redfish, and largemouth as well. I’m fishing mainly in the North River, the Little, and the Perquimans. But, I will fish the Chowan and Pasquotank if a client asks.”
Onley prefers to start at the mouth of one of these rivers and work his way back until he finds a thick school of perch. He casts right into the shorelines, amongst the cypress knees, where the water is about a foot and a half deep. The mouths of the creeks that flow into the river are particular points of interest.
Uncle Jesse’s Lure
“I’m catching them totally on an Uncle Jesse’s Lure,” said Onley. “They’re made by a local lure maker, Morris Bait and Tackle, and can be found in the local tackle shops. It’s a double-bladed spinnerbait with an oblong weight in the middle and a hook at the bottom. If an angler can’t get to those, I would suggest a Johnson’s Beetle Spin in 1/8 ounce. It has a strong hook for the redfish. I tip both of these baits with a tidbit of shrimp. One small shrimp is enough to use about 4 times. It doesn’t matter how it looks, it’s just for the scent. It definitely picks up the perch bite and doesn’t hurt for the other species either.”
Onley ties these lures to 20-pound Power Pro braided line, noting that the murky water clarity makes a leader unnecessary. The braided line is light enough to enjoy the perch, but strong enough to pull redfish away from the cypress knees. Light to ultralight rods keep things easy and fun. Onley said a steady retrieve is best, keeping the bait in the middle of the water column. No jigging or erratic movements are needed.
For anglers without a motorized vessel, Onley said the rivers of the sound are an excellent kayak fishery with many spots available to put in a paddle powered boat. Kayaks can be rented through Native Girl Kayaking, an Elizabeth City business servicing the Albemarle region.
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