"WHITE BASS SPAWN AT HAND" Luke Clayton Timing a fishing trip to coincide with the peak of the white bass spawn is about as chancy as predicting the weather in Texas two weeks in advance, but when everything comes together, the non stop action provided by a big school of spawning white bass, confined to a deep pool in a stream or river, is about as exciting as fishing gets. White bass need current for a successful hatch. Each year, sometime between now and around the end of March, big egg laden female whites and smaller males will leave the larger reservoirs and pack into the feeder creeks and rivers in efforts to procreate. But, several factors are key to triggering the spawn, warming water and current seem to be the major factors that cause the fish to move to the upper end of their home reservoirs. Ive fished for spawning white bass in creeks and rivers for many years, sometimes by boat but very often from the bank. Ive caught spawning whites in creeks above tiny little White Rock Lake, situated within the shadows of down town Dallas skyscrapers and Ive caught them on Caddo Creek above Tawakoni where I had to walk a mile from the nearest road to find suitable water and fish! A couple years ago about this time, I had the pleasure of fishing above Lake Whitney near the junction of the Nolan and Brazos Rivers for spawning whites. Regardless where you live, chances are very good that you are within a short drive of potentially excellent white bass waters. Many of my favorite creeks are simply too small to access by boat and I opt to walk the banks looking for good spawning waters. When accessing these fishing hotspots on foot, make sure and contact the property owners to gain access before heading down the creek in quest of a big mess of tasty white bass fillets! My friend David Cox with Palmetto Guide Service near Livingston, TX has for many years, guided fishermen on the Trinity River above Livingston for spawning white bass and Ive learned a few things from him about timing a trip. While fishing can be good for spawning white bass anytime theres current, Ive found the two days following a heavy rain upstream are almost always best. The initial influx of water coming down the river or creek will be muddy, then in a day or so, the water will begin to clear and the mud line will recede. This off colored water often serves as a barrier for spawning white bass. Once the fish, migrating through the more clear water, reach this muddy water, they often stack up in large numbers. Find these mud lines and youre well on your way to locating the mother load! tips Cox. Another good friend, guide Johnny Procell, has been guiding for spawning whites for many years in the stretch of East Fork River channel upstream of Lake Ray Hubbard. I wont even take my clients into the river unless everything is right. I want moving water that is semi clear. The water in this stretch of river can seldom be classified as clear, especially when its moving but when the current is slow enough for the particulate matter to settle, making the baits easier for the fish to see, fishing can get really good here. tips Procell. Guide Billy Seaman is a devout stream or river angler and knows just about every hotspot in north and east Texas for catching white bass during the spawn. I think many fishermen use baits that are much too large when fishing for spawning white bass and, they keep them moving much to fast. I like small minnow imitation with a light jig head. I do a lot of creek walking this time of year and test fish the deeper pools around the bends. The trick is keeping on the move, making repeated casts in likely looking places, until a concentration of fish is located. Usually, when one fish is landed, there are plenty of others in the same hole. On many occasions, Ive test fished several spots that looked good but were void of fish, then hit a hole that was jam packed with fish. Its trial and error fishing but well worth the effort when you find the fish. tips Seaman. Regardless which creek or river you decide to fish, make sure and bring along plenty of baits; hanging up is the nature of the beast in this type fishing. If youre walking in to your fishing hole, travel as light as possible. Ive fished with Seaman on a creek and we actually pushed a wheel barrow along the creek bank. This was a convenient way to get our tackle in and our fish out. Photo by Luke Clayton It doesnt always take big creeks or rivers to attract spawning white bass. Ive seen years with heavy spring rains when fish were landed from Kings Creek above Cedar Creek Lake, situated about 45 minutes southeast of Dallas, a good 10 miles above the main body of water. Top baits for spawning white bass include soft plastic minnow imitations but crank baits and inline spinners can also be highly effective. I prefer the single hook soft plastics because of the inherent problem of getting hung on brush. A shallow diving crank bait can be lethal on spawning fish but it is also a magnet for attracting brush! The little baits such as Sassy Shad, Coho Minnows s are relatively inexpensive and easy to handle when casting along a brushy creek bank. Proper bait presentation is almost as important as the bait used. Spawning whites, for whatever reason, prefer a very slow moving bait. I cast soft plastics downstream and work them back along bottom with a slow retrieve, allowing the baits to bump bottom. Concentrations of fish can often be found close to the banks, so its a good idea to try to keep baits parallel with the bank, just as close to the bank as possible. I enjoy fishing for spawning whites at Lake Caddo, located on the Texas/Louisiana border with my friend Billy Carter. Billy favors live, baby crawfish for catching spawning whites, but these little crustaceans often only appear in early spring when the white bass run is well underway. Regardless whether you use artificial or live bait, or whether you fish a small creek you can jump across or a major river system for spawning white bass, the experience of being out in the late winter or early spring woods along a gently flowing stream comes highly recommended by yours truly. A RECIPE FOR CRISPY FRIED WHITE BASS FILLETS: Remove as much of the red meat on the side of the white bass fillets as possible, then marinate in a 50-50 solution of Louisiana Hot Sauce and buttermilk for a couple hours. Dust with a batter of three fourth corn meal and one-fourth flour and fry in hot oil until crisp! The fresh fillets taste especially good when cooked beside the same gently flowing stream where the fish were landed! Be sure to catch Luke's weekly radio show at www.catfishradio.com. And check out the new Radio Station feature at www.catfish1.com: http://www.catfish1.com/forums/radiostations.php.