SCRUGGS, Va. (WFXR) — With the high price of seafood these days, there may be a solution swimming around in Smith Mountain Lake.
We’re talking about the white perch. White perch are schooling fish, the smaller cousins of the striped bass that Smith Mountain Lake is famous for.
They’re also tasty!
White perch are easy to catch, readily taking offerings of nightcrawlers or minnows fished on dropshot rigs. Using electronics and a boat to find them makes them an easy target, but you don’t need either to be successful. There are schools of white perch swimming all around Smith Mountain Lake, and this time of year they feed heavily.
They have become a favorite target of local fishing guides like Weston Hartman of Hartman Guide Services.
“It’s as simple as fishing gets,” Hartman said as he dangled a dropshot rig over the side of his boat and let it drop.
You could soon see fish on his live scope swarming to the nightcrawler he had put in front of them. A few seconds later, he was reeling a chunky white perch to the surface.
“That’s great table fare,” said Hartman. “You get good filets off of each side of them.”
There’s another positive to targeting white perch. It could help the striped bass population at Smith Mountain Lake.
When the water temperatures warm into the 80s, as they have right now, stripers can die because they produce so much lactic acid during the fight to land them. That’s why there is no size limit on striped bass in the warm summer months. The daily harvest limit is two, and the striper fishery is so good on Smith Mountain Lake that you can often reach it in a short time.
Rather than continue going after stripers that would have to be thrown back and likely die after a limit is caught, captains like Hartman have started targeting white perch to extend the fishing opportunities to their clients, and give them a full day on the water.
Plus, it gives them a fun way to fill a cooler with white perch to set up their next fish fry!