White bass feed in packs, pushing baitfish to the
surface or into confined areas, then slashing into their prey.
Anglers who work these rampaging schools often catch fish
on every cast.
But fishing for white bass is not always easy. They can be
extremely selective about the size of lure [fly] they strike.
And whites spook more easily than other panfish. When
you find a school, you must keep your distance or the fish
will quickly disappear.
White bass put up a strong fight when hooked on light tackle.
Six- to eight-pound line [leader] works well in most situations,
but you should check the line frequently for cuts. Their razor
sharp gills covers may nick the line, causing it to snap at the
Avoid grabbing a white bass across the gill plates. Each plate
has a needle-sharp spine (arrow) that can inflick a painful wound.
Instead, hold the fish by the lower lip or grip it firmly across the
Weather has little effect on white bass fishing, although surface-feeding
may last longer on over-cast days. White bass usually continue to
feed despite cold front conditions.
White bass school according to size. If you locate a school and
begin catching small fish, chances are you will continue to catch
only small fish. Instead, try to find another school.
Fast retrieves generally work best for white bass, because the
fish are accustomed to chasing fast-moving prey in open water.
Watch for swirls, slurps or splashes, signs that white bass are.
feeding on the surface. Fishermen routinely look for circling
gulls to find schools of bass surface-feeding the shad.
Approach white bass quietly. They will move away from the sound
of an outboard or the clanking of gear on the bottom of a boat. Use
an electric trolling motor or drift along the edge of the school.
Hook a white bass, then let it fight while you keep a tight line.
Because of their competitive nature, other bass swarm toward the hooked
fish. Some times several fish follow within inches in an attempt to
steal the lure. Wait a few second before reeling to give your
partner time to cast toward your hooked bass. When he hooks a fish,
quickly land your fish and cast toward his. Continue this tactic as
long as white bass remain in the area.
Fan-cast . . .while drifting over the area where bass were
feeding. If nothing bites, try a drift off to each side. If fish
are still in the area, a fast-moving lure [fly] will usually trigger
Lights play an important role in night fishing for white bass. Baitfish
drawn to the light will eventually attract bass. Most fishermen use
gas lanterns. Others prefer floating crappie lights or submerged
lights becasue they draw fewer insects and add more illumination
to the water. In murky water, white bass will move into the beam
of light. In clear water, they generally remain around the dimly-lit
Sink a headlight in a wire cage to attract bass. Grease the headlight contacts
to prevent electrolytic corrosion, then run wires to a car battery. Add
enough lead weight to sink the light, then lower it about 4 to 6 feet.
Fishing for Spawning White Bass Next Time!