WHITE BASS : Everything You Need To Know PART 1


Fishing ? Instructor!
Stripers, White Bass and hybrids ranked among the top in my poll on which species to cover next. Striper and hybrid will get their own breakdown separately from white bass, as techniques and habits are a little different between them. Feel free to bookmark this page or refer back to the "Jeremiah Fishing University" sticky at the top of the Freshwater Fishing page here on the forum for this entry and any others I've done as well as future entries.


The hardest fighting of all Panfish, few freshwater species provide as much excitement as the white bass. These fish travel in enormous schools all year round that may cover several acres. Anglers who find a school of actively feeding white bass often enjoy incredible fishing! Super aggressive feeders, these fish offer some of the fastest action you can ask for - IF you can find them first. Also known as "Sand Bass", or "Silver Bass", this species is born and spends it's entire life in freshwater and is not anadromous like their striped bass cousins who are born in freshwater, but spend most of their lives at sea. (Note: Striped bass are saltwater fish, but can survive their entire lives in freshwater as well without going to the ocean and are also widely stocked in reservoirs, mostly in the south.) The name "striper" gives some confusion because it applies to white bass, striped bass and their hybrid which is produced by crossing a male white bass and female striped bass. These fish are referred to as "Wipers" in many areas. A lesser known fourth relative white bass is the yellow bass. They very much resemble whites, but they have dorsal fins joined slightly at the base, and they're... well... yellow. Almost golden in color, and even smaller than white bass, but no more a slouch on the end of a hook than their larger related species are. If you catch a golden white bass, check the fins. You've likely found a school of yellows.

Like their larger cousins, white bass are warm water gamefish and prefer water temps from the mid 60s to mid 70 range. Peak activity is often considered to be somewhere between 64 and 73 degrees fahrenheit. White bass spawn in tributary streams of large lakes and reservoirs, typically in water from about 58 degrees to 64 degrees. They do not build nests, nor do any of the other "temperate" or "true" bass species. The female deposits the eggs in the current, which are then fertilized by the male as they sink. The eggs are like those of yellow perch in that they are sticky and will cling to gravel, rocks, or vegetation where they hatch within 48 hours. A single female can lay more than half a million eggs! Explains why catching and keeping so many doesn't dent the population much, like most all panfish. Also like other temperate bass species, the parents don't guard the eggs, but migrate back into the lake or reservoir instead where they begin their summer patterns. Spawning activity is short lived, lasting only 5 to 10 days. The bright side is they spawn in waves, usually in accordance with the full and new moons of the spring, so if you're off a little and miss them, you often have several opportunities in the spring.
When hatched, white bass fry form dense schools. Something they will continue to do all their lives. The schools are constantly on the move. Some roaming nearly ten miles in a day. White bass have been tagged and found over 100 miles from where they were originally caught. This is what makes them hard to catch for many. Finding them in the first place can be a real task.
Most white bass weigh only between 1 to 2 pounds. The world record weighed in at over 6 pounds!

White Bass Range...

The original range of the white bass was the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and the Mississippi River system. White bass have however, been stocked successfully in many other regions, most notably in the southeast and southwest. Commonly introduced to new reservoirs when they are built, they provide excellent fishing about 2-3 years after. Like Striped bass and hybrid striped bass, they are put in many waters for recreational angling and to control certain baitfish species like blueback herring.

These fish thrive in lakes and reservoirs connected to large river systems. Many times they can be found in the rivers themselves, mostly in the spring and fall. However, they do spend most all their time in the main lake and can be seen just about anywhere from the surface feeding on baitfish, to down in 50+ feet of water.


Spring : Throughout the year, the white bass are most active during stable weather conditions and on cloudy, breezy days when light penetration is reduced. Each spring, when the water temperature reaches the 50 mark, white bass and their related species move from their deep wintering areas and head towards the same creeks and rivers they were born in. They stage at the mouths of these areas usually in holes 10-25 feet deep and on flats adjacent to the tributaries with sand or gravel bottoms, normally on the upper end of the lake. The north side of any pond or lake usually warms up first and the fastest, so most fish species will be in this area awaiting spring time temperatures. When the water gets over 50, the white bass begin to travel upriver to spawn. Males normally go first and are ahead of the larger females by several days. If you're catching dinks, come back in a week and you'll find that they're much bigger.

Fishermen begin lining the banks, but they're early and the best fishing doesn't happen until later when the water exceeds 55. At this time, white bass as well as several other warm water species like crappie, black bass, sunfish and rough fish like carp and catfish really put on the feedbag.

After a cold snap, they move back towards the main lake during bad cold fronts or when heavy rains muddy up the water. They will return when things warm back up and the water begins to clear. Post spawn whites will be found back on their staging areas they used pre-spawn and may stay there several days or even weeks.

Summer: Finding white bass in summer can be very difficult because they're schooling, but scattered. They may be anywhere, at any depth, at any time and they don't hang out in any one spot for very long. Here today and gone tomorrow is how white bass are, often like large schools of crappie. White bass are not cover oriented fish and do not hold tight to docks, brush, or weeds. However, deep structure like channels, roads and such may serve as highways the fish travel by. To find them in summer, follow the creek channel and look for baitfish. Reservoir fishermen may troll for miles to find a school along a breakline. In the summer, oftentimes a thermocline will form. White bass normally suspend along the upper edge of it where the water is cool but still has oxygen, as nothing can survive below the thermocline.

Late Summer thru Fall: Through summer and fall, white bass attack shad, herring, alewives and other baitfish at the surface in terrific displays of their sheer aggression as they gorge on mouthfuls of baitfish. You'll see them especially during the first and last hour or so of daylight doing this. Gravel and sand flats near deep water and main lake points near deep water see most of this activity, as white bass push their prey up into shallow water to trap them. Many of the best flats are in less than 10ft of water. In the fall, many public beach areas offer excellent white bass fishing just after they close for the season. These man-made beaches are often built right on flats near deep water. The fish often feed at night during the summer and early fall months, and hundreds of anglers enjoy tying off to deep bridges or anchoring over gravel flats and sunken islands in water about 15-20ft deep and suspending fish attracting lights over the side of their boats. Shore fishermen can catch them at night also, mostly around piers and bridges, and along riprap banks with the same lights used from boats to attract baitfish. After the fall turnover, the fish spend more time in deeper water. They do however, continue to chase baitfish at the surface, but more out into the main lake. During summer, they may be within casting distance of the bank. They will however, be in the same general areas until the first few cold fronts of winter. In Rivers, look to deep riprap along outside bends, behind large current breaks like trees and boulders, and eddies in the river current. They will also push baitfish onto sandy flats around tributary mouths.

Winter: When it gets cold, white bass school heavily in deep water off humps, ridges, along the channels and on sunken islands, often on the lower end of the lake. (When it's cold, fish the south end. When it's warm, fish the north end.) They don't travel as much, but still move around, especially on a more vertical plane to feed. On warm days, they'll move up in the water column, but on cold days they move deeper. Fish activity picks up after several warm days, but once the water drops below 50, white bass feed very little. You can still find good fishing in the warm water discharges below power plants though all winter. Deep main lake points are always a safe bet, as are deep holes in the old river channel. In Rivers, you'll find them in the deepest pools in the river, and in deep holes along outside bends. They will also be in tailwater areas below dams because the current digs out a hole to sit in.

That's it for part 1, we'll get into gear, presentation, and lures/baits in part 2!


Fishing ? Instructor!
You were supposed to do crappie next. Did that guy in the other thread make you mad?
There wasn't really an order for the next few threads, just whichever top 3 were asked for the most. Stripers and Crappie were tied last time I looked. Going to finish this one and then do a similar one for crappie and then I think catfish is last. Crappie are going to be a several part project too so it'd be easier to get this one out beforehand.


Cap`n Jack 1313
yep. that's why i didn't post the pictures. :p
IF I could just make it to my truck I'd be on the dock at the locks on my crutches with a PFD on pray'n not to fall in... wouldn't care if I could make it back to the truck.... jones'n if you know what I mean.
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