Part Sixty-nine

White Bass

Where to Find White Bass

By Dick Sternberg and Bill Ignizio
Excerpt from: The Freshwater Angler
Thanks to Cowles Creative Publishing, Inc.

Each spring, as the water temperature approachess 50 degrees F, white bass move from deep wintering areas in lakes and reservoirs toward the rivers and creeks where their lives began. They stage at the mouths of these tributaries, usually in 10 - 25-foot deep holes adjacent to shallow flats with sand or gravel bottoms. In reservoirs, these staging areas are usually in the upper portion of the lake.

As the water temperature climbs above 50 degrees F, white bass begin migrating upriver to spawn. The males usually precede the females by several days or even a week. Fishermen begin lining the riverbanks early, but the best fishing does not start until the water exceeds 55 degrees F. The fish continue moving upstream until blocked by a dam, waterfall or shallow water. Huge concentrations of white bass form in tailraces below large dams. Many fish spawn in the tailraces, often over submerged rock islands and sandbars, or in riprap along shore. Most white bass deposit their eggs in 5 to 10 feet of water.

White bass move back toward the main lake during severe cold fronts or when heavy rains muddy the water. But they usually return once the weather warms and the stream begins to clear.

After spawning, both male and female white bass migrate back to their pre-spawn staging areas. There, they may linger several days or even week before filtering into the main body of the reservoir.

Locating white bass can be difficult during summer. You may find them at almost any depth, and they seldom remain in one spot very long. Unlike most fish, they do not hold tight to structure. However, creek channels, roads and ridges may serve as underwater highways for the schools. Reservoir fishermen may troll for miles to locate a school along a breakline.

Many lakes and reservoirs form thermoclines in summer. In these waters, white bass often suspend along the upper edge of the thermocline, where the water is cool but still contains oxygen.

Through summer and fall, white bass attack schools of shad on the surface, especially in morning or early evening. Most anglers look for large gravel or sand flats adjacent to deep water. Some of the best flats top off at 6 to 10 feet. Many anglers catch white bass on sand or mud deltas along the mouths of tributary streams. The best deltas drop off quickly. White bass will push baitfish toward lines of trees or brush, or onto shallow beaches. Many public beaches offer excellent fishing just after they close for the season.

White bass often feed at night during the summer and early fall. Anglers work schools on gravel flats or sunken islands, usually in 10 to 20 feet of water, but occasionally as shallow as 3 feet. Shore fishermen catch white bass at night along riprap banks or near piers and bridges.

After the fall turnover, white bass spend more time in deeper water, but continue to chase baitfish on or near the surface. They feed in the same general areas where they were found during summer.

In winter, white bass collect in deep water off sunken islands, humps and ridges, often at the lower end of the reservoir. They do not travel as widely as they did in summer, but will move vertically to feed, especially after several warm days. Once the water temperature is below 50 degrees F, white bass eat very little. Many anglers continue to find good fishing in warmwater discharges below power plants. the fish feed all winter in these areas.

Throughout the year, white bass are most active during stable weather or on overcast, breezy days when clouds and waves reduce light penetration

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