A Vote For White Perch

Plenty of fishermen in North Carolina and South Carolina haven’t been exactly excited about the proliferation of white perch, morone americana, in many reservoirs, Anglers targeting catfish love them for cut bait, but many bemoan the loss of white bass fisheries that are common where white perch have taken over.

Don’t put guide Jerry Neeley in the category of haters. He agrees that white bass in Lake Wylie haven’t fared well, but he hasn’t seen any negative results in crappie or bass populations.

“I don’t think white bass are hurting crappie in Lake Wylie,” he said. “The only negative may be that they eat crappie fry, but I can’t tell any difference in Lake Wylie crappie before white perch were in the lake and now.

“It’s a very fertile lake, and think the white perch have actually helped the catfish population.”

During the winter, Neeley catches plenty of white perch in the same places he catches crappie, and on the same baits and lures.

“Crappie and perch can be mixed together in schools,” he said. “There are a lot of big white perch in Wylie, but more small ones. You’ll catch five small ones for every big one up to 2 pounds.”

Neeley has even learned how to distinguish between white perch and crappie on his depth finder screen.

“Crappie marks will be elongated, horizontal; they can look like bass on your screen,” he said. “White perch will look like a Christ­mas tree on your screen—bigger at the bottom and narrower at the top.”

Dan Kilber, ncsportsman.com