THE PRACTICAL ANGLER by Greg Berlocher

TEXAS GUNS by Steve LaMascus
January 25, 2016
OPEN SEASON by Reavis Z. Wortham
January 25, 2016

White Bass: Feeling the Love

S ometimes an article writes itself. It flows from my fingers into the keyboard and onto the screen easily and 20 minutes later I’m done.

This is not one of those articles. Why? Because I write these things months in advance. Well, I’m supposed to anyway, so right now as I’m typing, it is hunting season which means I’m concentrating on deer and ducks, not fish. I’m a guy, I can only focus on one thing at a time, it’s how I’m made.

With that being said, while I was driving home yesterday with a cooler full of deer. (No I didn’t shoot them, the wife and daughter did, thanks for asking.) I crossed the Sabine River which was swollen from all the recent rain and this month’s topic hit me, white bass.

That’s right, we’re going to talk about the unsung little fish that most of us rarely try to catch on purpose, but should because they are becoming more abundant in more locations than ever before.

If you’re new around here, or just new to fishing, then you may not know that white bass require moving water to spawn so every year about this time they make a run up rivers leading out of the lakes they reside in.

One of the most famous spawning runs in our state is on the Sabine River as the white bass leave Toledo Bend and head north looking for love. If you time it right, know where to go, and what to use, you can quickly put a limit in the boat (or on the stringer for bank fishermen).

When white bass are on a spawning run they can be stupid. Well, maybe not stupid, but really hungry. Think teenage high school boy hungry. There are times when they eat just about anything so as long as you are throwing something that closely resembles a shad or minnow. Then you can catch fish.

During these times use as simple a bait as possible. Although white bass are hungry, they are also usually close to structure so when you’re not hanging a fish then you’ll be hanging a bush or overhanging limb and losing a lot of lures.

So, in order to not spend your kid’s college tuition on new lures use basic (cheap) lures. Often enough a simple 1/8- ounce jig head trimmed with a white curly-tail grub is all it takes to catch them when they are gorging themselves.

If they are being a little picky then switch over to a small spinnerbait to add a little flash to your presentation. Go out and purchase a dozen Road Runners (1/16 or 1/8 ounce will work, you just need a light rod to throw them) and dress it up with the same white, curly- tailed grub mentioned earlier. You can also use the small Crème Lil Fishy bodies in place of the grub with outstanding results.

Feeling adventurous and have money to burn on lost lures? Then go find some 1/8-ounce Tiny Traps (little Rattle Traps) in chrome and start chunking them. You will catch white bass but you will also donate some of them to underwater cover. That’s just part of it.

Not really a fan of using artificial baits to catch fish? No problem, you can use live bait just as easily. This is a great way to catch fish if you have located them near cover or in a specific bend of the river since it allows you to put the bait in front of them and leave it there until they decide to bite.

If you bass fish then you’d call this a Carolina rig but when we’re using live bait we prefer to call them fish finder rigs. Don’t ask me why. Slide either an egg weight or bullet weight onto your main line then tie on a barrel swivel.

To the other side of the swivel, tie on a short monofilament leader that’s lighter than your main line so it will break when you get hung up. At the end of the leader, tie on a small crappie hook. For bait, hook a small minnow through the nose so that it will face upstream into the current and stay alive longer.

Email Greg Berlocher at [email protected]

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