Photo of Capt. Gus with a sunfish

It seems like January lasted longer than normal this year – maybe a hundred days or more! Freezing weather extended into mid-April which made fishing difficult. With the month of May now upon us, anglers are glad to see warmer skies. While it’s not quite summer, white perch and sunfish have begun to chew on small lures, minnows and worms.

Both species are fun and easy to catch on light spinning tackle, baited with red wigglers and night crawlers. Worms, however, are the favorite baits for most freshwater fish, so don’t be surprised if you hook a big bass or catfish when fishing for panfish.

The best places to catch sunnies (sunfish) are around docks, boat ramps and sandy shorelines. White perch tend to swim in deeper water and most are caught from boats. Rigging is easy. A small bobber above a split shot and a number six or eight hair hook is all you need. Leave about three feet between the bobber and the hook. Next, cut a worm into several pieces and double thread it on to the hook. Make a short cast and wait for the bobber to go under. Set the hook with a light jerk of the rod and start reeling. Sunfish fight hard for their size and are fun to catch. Seldom do they jump from the water, but they make up for the lack of aerial displays by tugging harder than any little fish you’ve ever caught.

White perch begin to gather in deep coves and along the edges of channels this month. They swim in large schools, so when you catch one, more should be in the area. A multi-hook drop-shot type rig or Sabiki rig is perfect terminal tackle to catch perch. Regardless of which is used, small pieces of worms or live crappie minnows attached to hooks, both will entice bites. White perch are also attracted to dock lights at night. At times, there are so many swimming under the lights that you can catch dozens before they wise-up and stop feeding.

There is no size or creel limit on white perch in Lake Norman. They are tasty critters, so keep as many as you want to eat.

Tips from Capt. Gus:

When white perch are located, throw a marker to identify the spot. When they stop hitting, maneuver around the marker in larger circles until you find the school again. Throw another marker and enjoy the action!

Sunfish are easily attracted by tossing small pieces of bread into the water. “Chumming” also attracts white perch when small bits of chopped fish are pitched into the Lake.

Upcoming Events:

“How to Catch White Perch” – Capt. Gus will conduct this ninety-minute seminar beginning at 6:30 p.m. on May 10th at Lake Norman Volunteer Fire Dept., 1518 Brawley School Rd., Mooresville, NC. For additional information, contact Capt. Gus at 704-617-6812.

Lake Norman has been close to flood stage to due recent rains and the water surface temperature is in the sixties.

Capt. Gus Gustafson of Lake Norman Ventures, Inc. is an Outdoor Columnist and a full time Professional Fishing Guide on Lake Norman, NC. Visit his website at or call 704-617-6812.