White bass surely have a little Rodney Dangerfield in them. Few fish species get less of the respect they deserve as their angry, suicidal tendencies are second to none. Whites do draw crowds, but only during spring, when they run up rivers to spawn.
Ironically, they swim in schools all the time, so they serve up the same sizzling action during the summer (and winter) as they do during the spring. You just have to know where to look.
They aren’t the biggest fish in the pond. A 2-pounder is a quality fish, and a 4-pounder is a hoss. However, their jolting strikes and relentless pulling power defy their size.
Gary Dollahon of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, who handles public relations duties for Lew’s and Gene Larew, chases white bass 12 months a year. Dollahon enjoys and regularly takes advantage of the dependable summer white bass action
“These fish are extremely predictable in the areas they frequent from summer to summer, given similar water conditions,” he says.
In reservoirs, whites make heavy use of channel edges in the reservoirs’ lower halves, congregating around structural features such as bridge pillars, hard bends, confluences and points or humps.
Other fish run way up river arms to flowing waters that offer thermal refuge. River hotspots include swift waters below dams, creek confluences and the bottoms of shoals that feed deep holes.
For this time of year, he mostly targets long tapering points that extend to channel ledges, or flats adjacent to ledges, focusing on a depth range of 12 to 19 feet.
Because of their schooling tendencies, the battles are usually fierce and numerous.
Follow The Birds
Since gulls are usually absent in his region during the summer, he often relies on great blue herons instead to quickly locate areas with large concentrations of bait.
“Watch for areas where great blues are constantly flying back and forth just above the surface,” he explaines. “They’re telling you where you need to be fishing.”
He then uses electronics to locate the heaviest concentrations of shad, focusing mostly on breaks near main channels. He typically drops two marker buoys, about 50 yards apart along the same break, giving him an area to work. He then presents his baits vertically, ever bumping the bottom and watches the graph as he fishes.
To get in on a kamikaze white bass bites, the trick to catching numbers of white bass is based on a simple,
lightweight set up that easily throws small spinners and cranksbaits into schools of hungry whites.
Tie One On
White bass mostly eat shad in a reservoir’s open waters, so he sticks with white- or white/chartreuse-dominated color patterns. Mainstay tools include a jigging spoon and a Bobby Garland 3-inch Slab Slay’R or Slab Dockt’R rigged on a 3/16-ounce Mo’ Glo Jig head.
“Jig the spoon right at the bottom, using short and sharp upward flips of the wrist, just like starting a yo-yo again that’s hit the bottom of its drop, to cause the spoon to jump, and then letting it fall on a semi-slack line to make contact with the bottom on every descent,” he says. “With the Garland jigs, fish them just off the bottom, again constantly thumping the bottom. The ‘noise’ from the contact definitely gets a white bass’ attention.”
An Aggressive Approach
It’s worth noting that even bottom-relating whites sometimes will push baitfish to the top, creating flurries of seriously fun action. The same jigs Dollahon favors for vertical presentations can be cast across schools and reeled quickly so they swim just beneath the surface. The casting approach also works best up river runs unless the fish are congregated in a deep hole and you can set up directly overhead.
The fish are exceptionally prolific and overpopulation can stunt growth rates, so don’t feel bad about taking home a limit. Be sure to put the fish on ice immediately. Warm livewells hamper their sweet flavor. During spring runs, releasing big females is prudent.