WHITE BASS: Everything You Need To Know PART 2

Thread starter #1
Continuing on from part one, I'll be getting into presentations, lures, and baits for white bass fishing.

FISHING FOR WHITE BASS...

The important thing to remember when you're after white bass is that they are pack feeders and never travel alone. If anything, catching one of them fires up the rest of the school. Don't be surprised to reel one in and it have several followers with it. They often push baitfish to the surface or into confined areas to trap them, and then slash into the bait ball. Anglers working these feeding schools of bass catch fish every cast. You don't need to be particularly skilled or knowledgeable to catch these fish, just be able to cast with nearly anything that resembles a shad or herring, and you'll likely get bit.

Even though this is oftentimes the case with white bass, fishing for them is not always so simple as when they are heavily feeding on frantic baitfish. They can be extremely selective about the SIZE of your offering, as aggressive as they are, white bass are still more easily spooked than most panfish. You could just about drop a brick on a bluegill's head and he'll come back in a few seconds to check out the brick. Throw anything that lands a little too hard at a white bass, and they're gone. When you find a school of whites, keep your distance. Many an opportunity has been missed by boat anglers because they cut on the outboard motor and run up on a school of feeding white bass, only for them to disappear, and then reappear a hundred yards away 20 minutes later. Fast retrieves with erratic action normally work best for white bass, but when they're feeding heavily, all you have to do is put the bait in front of them and many times, movement isn't even necessary. You can deadstick a bait or cast it and it won't even have a chance to sink and hit bottom before a white bass grabs it. It's important to know that these fish school by size, for the simple fact that fish that are the same size can't eat each other. If you locate a school and they're small, look for another because they'll all be that size. Watch for swirls, splashes, and slurps at the surface which indicate white bass feeding. If you see huge blow-ups and baitfish jumping and being thrown in the air, those probably aren't white bass, but stripers or hybrids. White bass attacks are smaller, but still with the same aggression.

Approach them quietly. Long casts may be necessary. Drift into them or use the trolling motor on a low setting. Weather has little effect on these fish, and they don't care about cold fronts or storms, though surface feeding may last longer on overcast days. Be very careful with a landed white bass. They have sharp spines on the back and razor sharp gill plates that will flat slice you open. Use a de-hooking tool if you can. If you must remove them from hooks by hand, grab them firmly behind the head. And don't be surprised if they throw up on you. Yes, you read that right. Schooling white bass will gorge themselves to death on shad, regurgitate them and then eat some more. Caught fish often spit them up after they've been landed.

White Bass Tackle...

White bass are powerful fighters for their size on light tackle. 6-10lb test is plenty good enough in most situations, but you should check your line frequently for knicks and cuts. Retie after every dozen or so fish. Any light to medium light power rod will do. Nothing needs to be overly sensitive or costly. Anything from a $20 walmart special to a $400 Loomis rod is just fine. If you're jigging for them, you can use a medium power, as jigging spoons and such tend to be heavier. 12lb test is a safe bet for line here, and if you snag bottom, you can straighten your hooks out and get the lure back. If you're using braid, 8-20lb with a leader works well. They have good eyesight and may not strike lures without leaders in clear water, so make sure to use one. Both spinning and baitcasting outfits do well for white bass, and if you're in a creek during the spring spawn, you can even use a cane pole. Fly rods for white bass are generally 5-7wt outfits. You'll want to use either a weight forward floating line for surface feeders, or a sink tip at least type 3 for subsurface fish.

LURES FOR WHITE BASS...

White bass strike almost any artificial lure small enough to fit in their mouths if it resembles a baitfish. Smaller fish are the vast majority of what they eat their entire lives. Shad, probably their #1 food item, especially small threadfins, hatch in late spring or early summer and grow rapidly through fall. Some continue to hatch all summer though. This complicates things sometimes because white bass food can change on a day to day basis. The spit out shad from a caught fish gives you clues on bait size. Sometimes they may only be an inch long. Most veteran white bass fishermen if they could only choose one lure, it would probably be the jig. ANY jig. Whether it has a plastic trailer, hair, marabou, a live bait, and sometimes just the bare hook, the jig is probably the superior white bass lure. You can fish them deep for bottom fish, or on the surface for the pack feeders. They also just have one hook so you can quickly unhook them and get back in the water where all the action is. Many fishermen use double jig rigs and catch 2 fish at a time every cast.

Down south, tailspinners are popular as well with the Mann's little george being the favorite. It's an excellent choice for vertical jigging because the blade helicopters on the way down. Vibrating blade baits and jigging spoons are also popular for vertical jigging.
Crankbaits work well on white bass, as do spoons, jerkbaits, just about any topwater bait with poppers and stick baits being most popular. Fly fishermen can use any popper or streamer for these fish and catch them as well. During a mayfly hatch, white bass feed heavily on them and can be caught on nymphs by fly fishermen when nobody else can catch them on any other lure. Conventional fishermen attach popping plugs to their mainline with a leader on the back to a jig to catch surface feeders and subsurface feeders at the same time. The popper gets their attention and the trailer gets bit by fish attracted to the commotion. The popper also serves as a bobber. Fly fishermen have used this technique for years with a method called the "dry - dropper" rig.
 

Ray357

Einsteinesque
Continuing on from part one, I'll be getting into presentations, lures, and baits for white bass fishing.

FISHING FOR WHITE BASS...

The important thing to remember when you're after white bass is that they are pack feeders and never travel alone. If anything, catching one of them fires up the rest of the school. Don't be surprised to reel one in and it have several followers with it. They often push baitfish to the surface or into confined areas to trap them, and then slash into the bait ball. Anglers working these feeding schools of bass catch fish every cast. You don't need to be particularly skilled or knowledgeable to catch these fish, just be able to cast with nearly anything that resembles a shad or herring, and you'll likely get bit.

Even though this is oftentimes the case with white bass, fishing for them is not always so simple as when they are heavily feeding on frantic baitfish. They can be extremely selective about the SIZE of your offering, as aggressive as they are, white bass are still more easily spooked than most panfish. You could just about drop a brick on a bluegill's head and he'll come back in a few seconds to check out the brick. Throw anything that lands a little too hard at a white bass, and they're gone. When you find a school of whites, keep your distance. Many an opportunity has been missed by boat anglers because they cut on the outboard motor and run up on a school of feeding white bass, only for them to disappear, and then reappear a hundred yards away 20 minutes later. Fast retrieves with erratic action normally work best for white bass, but when they're feeding heavily, all you have to do is put the bait in front of them and many times, movement isn't even necessary. You can deadstick a bait or cast it and it won't even have a chance to sink and hit bottom before a white bass grabs it. It's important to know that these fish school by size, for the simple fact that fish that are the same size can't eat each other. If you locate a school and they're small, look for another because they'll all be that size. Watch for swirls, splashes, and slurps at the surface which indicate white bass feeding. If you see huge blow-ups and baitfish jumping and being thrown in the air, those probably aren't white bass, but stripers or hybrids. White bass attacks are smaller, but still with the same aggression.

Approach them quietly. Long casts may be necessary. Drift into them or use the trolling motor on a low setting. Weather has little effect on these fish, and they don't care about cold fronts or storms, though surface feeding may last longer on overcast days. Be very careful with a landed white bass. They have sharp spines on the back and razor sharp gill plates that will flat slice you open. Use a de-hooking tool if you can. If you must remove them from hooks by hand, grab them firmly behind the head. And don't be surprised if they throw up on you. Yes, you read that right. Schooling white bass will gorge themselves to death on shad, regurgitate them and then eat some more. Caught fish often spit them up after they've been landed.

White Bass Tackle...

White bass are powerful fighters for their size on light tackle. 6-10lb test is plenty good enough in most situations, but you should check your line frequently for knicks and cuts. Retie after every dozen or so fish. Any light to medium light power rod will do. Nothing needs to be overly sensitive or costly. Anything from a $20 walmart special to a $400 Loomis rod is just fine. If you're jigging for them, you can use a medium power, as jigging spoons and such tend to be heavier. 12lb test is a safe bet for line here, and if you snag bottom, you can straighten your hooks out and get the lure back. If you're using braid, 8-20lb with a leader works well. They have good eyesight and may not strike lures without leaders in clear water, so make sure to use one. Both spinning and baitcasting outfits do well for white bass, and if you're in a creek during the spring spawn, you can even use a cane pole. Fly rods for white bass are generally 5-7wt outfits. You'll want to use either a weight forward floating line for surface feeders, or a sink tip at least type 3 for subsurface fish.

LURES FOR WHITE BASS...

White bass strike almost any artificial lure small enough to fit in their mouths if it resembles a baitfish. Smaller fish are the vast majority of what they eat their entire lives. Shad, probably their #1 food item, especially small threadfins, hatch in late spring or early summer and grow rapidly through fall. Some continue to hatch all summer though. This complicates things sometimes because white bass food can change on a day to day basis. The spit out shad from a caught fish gives you clues on bait size. Sometimes they may only be an inch long. Most veteran white bass fishermen if they could only choose one lure, it would probably be the jig. ANY jig. Whether it has a plastic trailer, hair, marabou, a live bait, and sometimes just the bare hook, the jig is probably the superior white bass lure. You can fish them deep for bottom fish, or on the surface for the pack feeders. They also just have one hook so you can quickly unhook them and get back in the water where all the action is. Many fishermen use double jig rigs and catch 2 fish at a time every cast.

Down south, tailspinners are popular as well with the Mann's little george being the favorite. It's an excellent choice for vertical jigging because the blade helicopters on the way down. Vibrating blade baits and jigging spoons are also popular for vertical jigging.
Crankbaits work well on white bass, as do spoons, jerkbaits, just about any topwater bait with poppers and stick baits being most popular. Fly fishermen can use any popper or streamer for these fish and catch them as well. During a mayfly hatch, white bass feed heavily on them and can be caught on nymphs by fly fishermen when nobody else can catch them on any other lure. Conventional fishermen attach popping plugs to their mainline with a leader on the back to a jig to catch surface feeders and subsurface feeders at the same time. The popper gets their attention and the trailer gets bit by fish attracted to the commotion. The popper also serves as a bobber. Fly fishermen have used this technique for years with a method called the "dry - dropper" rig.
All you really need to know is umbrella rig (one of those Dang Chandleers as the people who hate them call it)and heavy braided line. When you hook 3or 4 at same time, you need the heavy braid.
 
Thread starter #5
All you really need to know is umbrella rig (one of those Dang Chandleers as the people who hate them call it)and heavy braided line. When you hook 3or 4 at same time, you need the heavy braid.
I was about to get to that after getting into techniques. The Alabama rig in a finesse version works well, as does trolling the larger umbrella rigs
 
Thread starter #6
FISHING FOR WHITE BASS

Catching spawning white bass is the easiest fishing of the year. All you have to do is look for swirling fish and throw a lure somewhere near. Fishing for fish that are actively in the act of spawning though can be difficult. If fish are there and feeding, but won't grab your baits, go to a much smaller presentation on a lighter setup and you may be able to entice these fish. As white bass migrate upriver, they gather in eddies, isolated bays and other slower current areas just off the main channel. Most of these fish spawn at night or in late evening hours. Night time anglers can listen for the fish splashing and cast in their direction. Not all fish swim upriver to spawn however, and some spawn on sand or gravel bottoms near the upper end of the main lake. During low water years, you'll find them here as the creeks don't have enough water or current in them to attract fish.

WHITE BASS TECHNIQUES

Here, we'll go over a few different techniques for catching white bass.

- Float Fishing
When fishing in current, attach a bobber 2 feet ahead of a jig. The bobber adds weight and attracts fish as you jerk it across the surface. Cast it downstream and let it drift with the current, giving small snaps of the rod tip every so often. Let it settle into eddies and behind current breaks like logjams, twitching it for more movement.

- Drifting For White Bass
If you're in a kayak or boat, you can drift for white bass pretty effectively. Drift with the current, having one guy bump bottom with a jig and the other cast to the bank and retrieve. When you find fish, anchor at the bow of the boat, or point the bow upstream and adjust your motor to keep you in position.

- Jump Fishing For White Bass
For fast action, nothing beats jump fishing for white bass. Big schools of fish push bait to the surface to feed on them, birds diving to pick off the stragglers. It really is as close to saltwater fishing a lake or reservoir angler can get. Jump fishing gets the name because white bass will attack or "jump" the baitfish on the surface, some of them literally skipping and skittering across the top. It also gets this name because you'll be "jumping" from spot to spot. Anglers will see busting fish, motor over to them and reel baits through the school, and then jig for them when the school sounds. They disappear and then reappear a hundred yards away or so and the process begins again. Fishing the jumps peaks in the fall, but occurs in summer also. Remember to keep your distance, because they're easily spooked. You're better off casting at them from a distance than motoring into the school. In clear weather, it's best early or late in the day. On overcast days, it may be at any time.

- Double Jig Fishing
You can catch multiple fish at a time using 2 or more jigs on the same line. Tie a 3 way swivel on your line with a shorter dropper on your top hook than bottom hook. Retrieve through the school, and after you catch one fish, let it stay in the water a bit to catch another. Swing them into the boat instead of netting them to avoid tangling lines.

- Trolling
Throw a bait or spread of lures behind the boat and slow troll for white bass, looking for them on your depth finder. When they are done feeding, they will often drop into deeper water and can be caught this way. Umbrella rigs, planer boards and bottom bouncers are all effective.

- Downlining
Fishing downlines is easy. Mark how deep the fish are, bait up with your baitfish of choice and lower it down to the level of the fish or just above them. If they aren't eating your baits, go to smaller ones. If they refuse large shad, use a shiner minnow.

- The Buddy System
Fishing the buddy system gets numbers of fish in short order and takes advantage of the competitive nature of white bass. Hook one, and keep it in the water long enough for a buddy to cast towards the hooked fish. When he hooks up too, quickly retrieve yours and swap. White bass will swarm a hooked fish trying to get the bait from it and may follow it to the boat.

- Night Fishing
Lights are the most important thing for white bass after dark. Leave a light in the water for 30+ minutes and it will attract bait, which will attract white bass. Lit docks in deep water at the mouths of creeks attract white bass and crappie if you don't have a light of your own. Crankbaits, jigs and live baits all work.
 

Richf7

Senior Member
One other question - are WB less sensitive to fishing line diameter and color compared with trout? High vis mono is much easier for me to see when tying knots.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.
 

Dbender

Senior Member
When do they typically migrate up river? Any parricular water temp? Thank you for the detailed information you have already posted!
 

Dustin Pate

Administrator
Staff member
When do they typically migrate up river? Any parricular water temp? Thank you for the detailed information you have already posted!
60 is the magic no. when it reaches 57-59 migration starts up rivers, usually early March

The migration starts way before the water even hits 50. Actually, water temps are only part of the equation. Day length, moon phase, and even water flow will start fish moving well before most people realize. Most people miss a month or more of good fishing because they think you have to wait until the dogwoods bloom.
 
Thread starter #14
Great stuff, Jeremiah. The few times I've fished for WB on the river during the spring run it seemed like the bite would slow dramatically mid morning. Is that true?
Many times, yes. With stripers, white bass and hybrids, you normally get a feeding window either early or late, unless the weather is generally overcast and cloudy
 
Thread starter #15
The migration starts way before the water even hits 50. Actually, water temps are only part of the equation. Day length, moon phase, and even water flow will start fish moving well before most people realize. Most people miss a month or more of good fishing because they think you have to wait until the dogwoods bloom.
Very true with really every fish I've found. They'll start moving before everyone else knows it and by the time everybody else gets out there, I've already been catching fish 2-3 weeks ahead. Especially bass
 
Thread starter #16
One other question - are WB less sensitive to fishing line diameter and color compared with trout? High vis mono is much easier for me to see when tying knots.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.
White bass are much less sensitive to lines, yes. Lure speed and presentation are more important. You can get away with any 8-15lb line most days.
 
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