How to Locate and Catch Post-Spawn White Bass
A good amount of people fish the annual white bass aka sand bass spring spawning run. The spring spawning run gets the bank fishing angler an exceptional opportunity for fast, hard fighting action and excellent table fair. It is a tradition of many to target them during this time, however, many get very frustrated when water conditions or weather mess up their annual fishing event.
I’ve had several customers who have called frustrated that their freezers were empty because the “run” was messed up that year. Not to worry, we can solve that problem. May and June are prime times to fill the freezer when the white bass come back into the lake, gorging themselves on shad.
Our typical plan of attack is to find large schools of white bass feeding on humps and ledges where they can trap shad. At times this action can be very fast paced and one or two fish are on the hook as soon as you drop your lure down to their feeding depth.
Rod – 6 to 7 ft. medium action
Reel – spinning, bait cast, or spincast (whatever you’re most comfortable with)
Line – 10 to 20 pound fishing line (I like to use 20 pound braid attached to a 5 ft piece of 12 lb fluorocarbon with a uni to uni knot. The gill plates will cut braid, especially with two fish on at the same time.)
Lures – Ninety percent of the time we use a slab and a fly. I use two different slab and fly combinations. Ole Ugly and Ole Ugly Flies created and made by a good friend, Johnny Stevens. The second are products of Jeff Williams and his company Fle-Fly: the Bendable Minnow and Lead-Free Jigs.
The fly or jig is tied 12-16 inches above the slab using a dropper loop knot. I use either a polamar or improved clinch knot to attach the slab.
Reasons to use Ole Ugly: Ole Ugly was created from a sand casting many moons ago by Johnny Stevens. The imperfections that make Ole Ugly so effective are also the reasons that lure manufacturers would not sell the lure in stores when Johnny approached them with his lure/slab. This is how Johnny came up with the name, Ole Ugly.
Ole Ugly weighs approximately 1 ounce and comes in a variety of colors. Day in and day out, my most effective is the white and chartreuse. Ole Ugly is heavier than most slabs of equal length, allowing it to get down to the fish fast. The imperfections create a unique action that white bass attack, usually on the fall. Ole Ugly can also be cast out a long distance with its weight and worked back in a variety of ways. My favorite is a hop, hop, follow it back down and the white bass attack it as it approaches the bottom. Another technique when the white bass are working shad to the surface is to cast out and burn it back through the school.
Reasons to use Bendable Minnow: The Bendable Minnow is a sleek and slender design that resembles a ghost minnow, which is like candy to a white bass. The Bendable Minnow has a unique feature for a slab. It can be bent in a variety of shapes to create the actions the fish and angler prefer for any given situation. At times when jigging straight up and down, the fish want a faster fall, so I leave it straight. Other times, the fish want more of an erratic motions resembling a wounded bait fish, so I bend it slightly. The bend really excels on suspended or top water white bass because you can put a series of bends in it. These bends keep the lure very near the surface, looking like a wounded bait fish in the strike zone. The variety of weights and lengths lets the angler match the size of bait the white bass are chasing at the time.
Where does an angler look for white bass after the spawn? The majority of white bass spawn up the tributary arms, creeks and rivers. After the spawn, white bass work their way back to the main lake, gorging on bait fish along the way.
Humps, points, and ledges containing bait fish are prime areas to find white bass in a feeding frenzy. They feed much like a pack of wolves and will surround and ambush their prey. If you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, you can fill a cooler in a hurry!
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