By: Captain Craig Price
August’s arrival in central NC concurs with the dog days of summer. But local anglers might think of August’s sticky hot days as the “cat days of summer”, because plenty of blues, flatheads, and channel cats can be taken in numerous ways and locations.
On Norman, big schools of white perch can be found in 15-40 ft. of water in long coves off the river channel and towards the back of major creek channels. Jigging for the perch with single or tandem jigs, or sabiki rigs, is an almost sure-fire way to catch dozens if not hundreds of fish. But more importantly, the perch action is a means to a bigger and better end.
The perch feeding activity/vibrations draws top predators so I Carolina rig live perch (4-8”) on down rods with 1-2 oz of weight and 4/0-5/0 circle hooks, and fish them from the bottom to midway up the water column. The deepest baits typically catch flatheads, channels, and blues; and the mid-depth baits catch big bass, hybrids, stripers, and cats too. The cats aren’t always big, but it’s not unusual to hook 10-25# flatheads or blue cats.
If you want to target cats more conventionally, try Santee rigs starting in the backs of creeks and long coves in 8-10 ft. of water early and late in the day, working out to the creek mouths up to 35-40 ft. during midday, or in reverse if starting in the evening. Expect the bite to be slower in the heat and light of the day with better action at dawn and dusk, and more so during the night. Fresh bait is key, with bream and perch fillets being top producers, but prepared baits of various kinds also work.
For bass, look for topwater action on main channel points and humps early and late, then fish main or creek channel docks focusing on the deep shade during the day. Pig and jigs, plastic worms, or lizards in green pumpkin and electric blue are effective, and dipping the tails in chartreuse dye often helps. Try tandem bladed, 3/8-1/2 oz spinnerbaits in white or blue-white, too. Of course, live bait fished shallow early and late, then deeper midday around the points and humps above is hard to beat.
Hybrids and Norman’s remaining stripers can be found anywhere the bass might be, and caught the same ways. But fishing for them at night around well-lit docks in 12+ ft. of water is a better option. Dark colored topwaters, spinnerbaits, stickbaits, or darter type jigs and swim baits all produce around the edges of the lit area. Bass, crappie and perch are usually present too. Big baits aren’t always the answer on Norman, so be sure to try small offerings if you’re not getting strikes from medium-large lures. A-rigs with small swimbaits are also worth a try.
With water temps approaching 90F or above, also keep in mind that fish don’t have eyelids or sunglasses, so the bright sun is a problem for them. Pick your times and locations more carefully, adjust your tactics, and Fish On!
Capt. Craig Price is locally born and raised, and has been fishing the Catawba River and its impoundments since the
1960’s. As his guide business has grown, his area of operations has also grown to include numerous freshwater lakes in
NC & SC, plus inshore saltwater charters along the coasts of both states. Capt. Craig is a master rated USCG licensed
captain, fully insured, and trained in first aid/CPR. Visit www.fishonguideservices.com or call 704-996-0946 to book your
fishing adventure today.