Badin Lake on the Yadkin River chain in North Carolina has long been known as an excellent lake for blue catfish in the winter, but two reservoirs upstream, High Rock Lake seems poised to become the next winter hotspot. 

Guide Chris Nichols said High Rock has long been a catfish factory for big flathead and channel catfish, but the population of blues may be about to explode.

“I’m seeing the same things I saw in lakes Wateree and Wylie as the population of blues expanded so rapidly,” Nichols said. “Ten years ago, it was unusual to catch a blue catfish at High Rock, but now, the fishing is really good for blues and I think in the next three to five years it’s going to boom just like Wateree and Wylie. It good for winter fishing now, but I believe it’s about to get much better.”

Nichols said the same basic patterns work at High Rock as at other winter lakes, find shad and underwater topography such as points, humps ledges and channel and blue catfish are available.

“High Rock has a tremendous forage base of threadfin and gizzard shad and loads of perch,” he said. “And while they’re not caught with regularity yet, some very big blues have been caught and released. Plus, plenty of 15- to 20-pound fish are here now. It doesn’t take long when ample numbers of big fish have successful spawns before the population simply explodes.”