White perch are biting in Albemarle Sound tributaries

White perch are a fish that is heavily targeted in tributaries that feed North Carolina’s Albemarle Sound.

These areas are loaded with perch

With a white perch fishery popping up in most reservoirs across North Carolina, it’s easy to forget the native waters where they have been a staple. The tributaries of the Albemarle Sound are loaded with perch. And the more-pleasant weather of early fall is perfect for filling up on them.  

According to guide Jeff Onley of Hertford, N.C., they’re not a hard fish to catch — if you know what you’re doing.  

“They can be found anywhere from the mouths on up into the rivers,” said Onley (252-333-6524), who runs Albemarle Fishing Charters. “It just depends on which way the wind is blowing. If it blows north, they can be found closer to the sound. But if it blows southwest, they’ll be further up the rivers.”

Onley is partial to the Little River and North River for numbers of perch. The North usually produces bigger fish. He also likes the Perquimans, Chowan and Pasquatank rivers. Once he determines which direction to head, he looks for a familiar sight: cypress trees and cypress knees. Ringing the shorelines of the rivers in 2 to 3 feet of water, they attract perch, which hold tight to the cover to ambush baitfish. Points with wood are a plus, but it’s all fair game. Mornings offer the best bite, as the fish will be more tolerant of the shallow water before the sun bears down on them.

Small spinners are great perch lures

“I like spinners for perch,” Onley said. “An 1/8-ounce Johnson Beetle Spin or Betts Spin in white, yellow and green is a good choice. An 1/8-ounce Strike King Mini King is actually a bass lure, but the perch can eat it. My favorite is an Uncle Jesse’s Lure made by Moore’s Bait and Tackle. It’s an all-silver lure with two in-line spinners.

“I tip all the baits with tidbits of fresh shrimp. It really ups the catches of perch. And if any reds or flounder are around, it’s good to have a little meat on it.”

Onley prefers a 5 ½-foot ultralight spinning rod for the fun of light tackle and feisty fish. But he spools his reels with 20-pound Power Pro braid to be able to better handle the redfish and largemouths bass that inevitably end up on the hook. In the murky water, no leader is necessary. 

From a numbers perspective, 100-fish days are a real possibility. Ninety percent of the catch will be white perch. The remainder bonus fish will include redfish, bass, flounder and some yellow perch.

Dusty Wilson
About Dusty Wilson 235 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 InsideNCFishing.com.