Hot weather, hot white perch

White perch flock to the cypress knees along banks of Albemarle Sound tributaries in August. (Picture by Jeff Onley)

White perch are loads of fun on light tackle

When August arrives and the dog days of summer set in, finding a willing and able fishery can be a challenge, but guide Jeff Onley of Hertford, N.C., said that anglers can look no further than the tributaries of North Carolina’s Albemarle Sound, where hungry white perch will be putting up quite a fight on light tackle and quite a meal on the table.

“I’ll be fishing the shoreline in the rivers and creeks in August,” said Onley (252-333-6524), who runs Albemarle Fishing Charters.  “The mouths of the rivers at the sound will be good, as well as the mouths of the creeks and the cypress swamps coming into the rivers. Cypress knees, stumps and man-made docks will be the main forms of structure I will be looking for.”

Three of Onley’s favorite rivers will be the North, Little, and Perquimans. But most of the sound’s tributaries will see their fair share of action. Onley admits that perch are catchable on structure in the sound itself as well. But the protection of the rivers make them fishable in most any wind condition.

Luckily, the main form of structure that Onley targets for perch production will be easy to find and readily visible, as most of the shorelines are abundant with cypress knees. His plan of attack consists mostly of chunking and winding, putting baits right up against the shoreline in 1 to 1 1/2 feet of water and making a straight retrieve. Most fish will be caught between the shoreline and 2 to 3 feet of water.

Simple lures can produce big numbers of perch this month

“I’ll be casting an 1/8-ounce Johnson Beetle Spin in white, orange, or green, or an Uncle Jesse’s Lure, which is made by Morris Bait and Tackle. It’s an all-silver, double-bladed, spinnerbait,” Onley said. “I like to tip both of those with a tidbit of shrimp.  A 1/8-ounce Rat- L-Trap in blue back and silver works really well. It gets hung up more, but it does work.”

Onley puts up some pretty impressive numbers, even on a half-day charter. Triple-digit catches of white perch are a real possibility, and any catch under 40 is an extreme rarity.

But that’s not all. Yellow perch, largemouth bass and even redfish will be mixed in to keep things interesting.

Onley keeps his tackle simple and effective, using 5-foot-6 ultralight spinning outfits spooled with 20-pound Power Pro braid, which has the diameter of 6-pound mono. It ensures that anglers can feel the fight as well as pull lures free from snags without breaking off. Leaders are unnecessary in the stained water.

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

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