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Chasin’ Eisenhowers
Let Driftmaster Lend You A Hand During Your Search For Perch
Phillip Gentry
In 1952, the United States of America elected a moderate conservative and former 4 Star Army General by the name of Dwight D Eisenhower to the office of President. At the same time, the US was advancing on several fronts including interstate travel, flood control, and hydroelectric power. Earlier in the decade the US Army Corps of Engineer had completed construction of what was then called the Clark Hill Dam project. Though the project was authorized in the mid 1940’s, the much anticipated reservoir took over eight years to complete and was nearly full when Eisenhower took office. The 34th President, not without due influence in the Army, made the offhand statement to an aide that he hoped the new reservoir would have yellow perch, a favored species in Eisenhower’s home state of  Kansas, in it. To this day, the highly prized golden perch found in Clarks Hill, Russell, Hartwell, and the Savannah River are locally referred to as “Eisenhower perch.”
According to research collected by the USGS, the native range of the yellow perch centers in the upper Midwest and Canada but is found as far south as Georgia. According to fishing guide Wendell Wilson (706-283-3336), who has guided on Georgia’s Lakes Russell and Clarks Hill for the past 22 years, these days another color of perch species makes a double dipping perch fishing trip a distinct possibility.
“Back in the early 90s, it was easier to catch yellow perch than it is now because there weren’t as many white perch in the lake,” said Wilson.  “Once you got on any kind of perch pattern, your percentage of yellow perch was a lot better back then than it is now.”
Wilson’s makes this statement as more of an observation than complaint, because at the end of the day, his clients are actually seeing just as many if not more fish in the livewell, they’re just perch of a different color. Wilson claims that white perch populations began mushrooming around 2000 and as far as he’s concerned, he doesn’t fish for the two species any differently.
“It’s really hard to just target yellow perch now because you’re going to catch yellow perch, white perch, crappie and spotted bass in the same places,” he said. “The fish move out to deeper water in late November and they’re pretty predictable all through December, January and February.  As soon as it warms up in mid March, they scatter and go back toward the banks and are harder to catch in any number.”
The pattern for finding and catching yellow perch is pretty simple. Wilson’s home waters are known for their vast acres of standing timber and stump fields. Wilson targets everywhere else, so long as the water depth is at least 30 feet.
“The ideal depth is 30-40 feet but we have more underwater timber when you get deeper than 40 because it wasn’t cleared beyond that level when they made our lakes,” he said. “If you can find an area that used to be an old pasture you can catch them down to even 50 or 60 feet deep. One of the best places to find this kind of bottom is about half way up any the larger creeks.  It’s going to be about 40 feet deep on the flats near the creek channel. Other than that, you can look out off the main river channel and you’ll find some deep water flats there.”

“I start out with several rods and set them in my Driftmaster rod holders,” said Wilson. “Once you get into the fish, you run back and forth between holders. The action will be that fast”.

A tight-line presentation of live minnows works well for both yellow and white perch. Once you have located a suitable deep water flat that shows the presence of baitfish and/or fish holding near the bottom, use a one or two hook rig to suspend the bait about a foot off the bottom. Once a school of perch is located, expect the action to be fast and furious until the school moves off. You can either wait for the school to return or leave in search of another school.

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Driftmaster #T-250-H Trolling System