White Bass Basics
White Bass (Morone chrysops)
The typical white bass is over a foot long and weighs 2-4 lb. The world record white bass was caught in Louisana and weighed over 6 lb.
Also Known As
White bass are also known as sand bass or silver bass. Fish are often named after their color, distinctive characteristics or habitats, and this is true of the white bass.
LC – Least Concern
White bass are often an underappreciated member of the bass family that can bring hours of fun and tasty filets
What is white bass fish? From an appearance standpoint, white bass are primarily silver in color, with a blue-grey tint across the back and head. Along their sides are six to ten longitudinal black stripes.
The head is pointed and small, with a lower jaw that extends past the upper when closed. Their fins are translucent or white in color, except for the tail fin, which is blue-grey, like their backs.
The eyes of the white bass are typically yellow to pale white, with dark black pupils. The coloration of their eyes can vary slightly depending on the environment. Slight hints of yellow or green are possible but uncommon, as these tints better match stained or muddy water.
Key indicators of a white bass, aside from the color and longitudinal stripes, are the fin shapes. The dorsal fin will always be separated, with a front, spiny front dorsal fin and a more typical rear dorsal fin. The lower caudal fin has a unique forked feature at the front.
A Note on Spawning
The spawn occurs in the spring when the water temperature rises above 53 degrees Fahrenheit. The actual month that the spawn takes place can vary wildly depending on the fish’s location.
During the spawn, white bass gather in large schools and begin the spawning process in shallow waters. Females rise to the surface as males bump them, releasing eggs into the surrounding water. The males fertilize the eggs, which then attach themselves to rocks, logs, or gravel for the duration of the gestation period.
White bass are unique in employing this technique, which is more commonly associated with saltwater species. Most freshwater fish that the white bass neighbors use a guarded bed approach. However, the sheer volume of fertilized eggs that white bass can produce, coupled with a 72-hour gestation period, ensures a continued, large population. This, more than anything else, is responsible for the success of the white bass in waters filled with predators.
During all other times of the year, white bass cruise the deeper channels in large schools.
Here you can see the yellow eyes and longitudinal stripes that are indicative of white bass
How to Catch White Bass
Favorite Feeding Spots
What is a white bass fish’s preferred feeding spot? White bass are a highly active species of fish. They avoid restricted areas and seek out especially deep water to chase baitfish. Therefore, bottom topography that deviates from the norm and creates unusually deep pockets will attract the elusive silver bass.
Such areas are often formed in severe river bends and where two travel corridors cross. These holes trap baitfish and other prey that white bass feed on, so are real hotspots.
White bass are freshwater fish, most commonly found in travel corridors of lakes and rivers. They prefer deeper water and are not typically found in the shallows outside of their short spawning window.
White bass do not gravitate to cover or any particular vegetation type but prefer to remain in open channels that allow them to swim freely. Rivers in the white bass range (the Mississippi River watershed and American South East) also offer prime locations. With cool, clear, flowing water through deep channels, coupled with ever-present access to rocky shallows, white bass are very much at home in rivers.
You can catch white bass year-round. The winter months can be an especially productive time, providing you can locate the deep holes they like to congregate in.
In the spring, consideration should be given to the spawn; shallow water tributaries with rocky bottoms can yield great results.
During the summer and fall, white bass will seek cooler water as the heat of summer forces the fish deeper.
Pay extra attention to intersections and deep holes along travel corridors that white bass are known to frequent
The most effective baits for catching white bass are those which imitate small baitfish in the water. This can range wildly depending on the angler and the location.
Small jigs, spoons, lipless crankbaits, and live minnows are equally effective when employed correctly at the appropriate time; making water temperature often the determining factor. As a general rule, the warmer the water, the more action is required from the bait. Therefore, action-generating crankbaits tend to be a solid option for many anglers in the summer months, while spoons and jigs are more prevalent in the cooler months.
Out of all the options available to the angler, the most foolproof and reliable bait is the live minnow. The action and smell of an injured baitfish is hard for white bass to resist (so long as they stay alive, which can be a challenge).
A lipless crankbait is a highly effective lure for white bass in warmer water
The white bass is nothing but a highly aggressive, energy-filled predator. The most popular method for catching white bass is staking out deep holes on travel corridors that are known to hold these hunters. There are a variety of lures and techniques available to fish these holes.
One of the most effective is using live minnows on a drop shot rig. Fishing with live bait has limitations such as cost, availability, and the life of the bait itself. With those limitations in mind, spoons or small white jigs can also be good options, as long as they imitate minnows effectively.
Fishing lipless crankbaits is another great option for catching silver bass fish, accepted as a classic and fun approach for the more active fisherman.
A drop shot rig with a live minnow hooked through the nose is an effective presentation for white bass
Top Tips for Catching White Bass
Tip 1: Use a Depth Finder
Understanding the bottom topography of a lake or river is essential for locating white bass, making a depth finder a must-have gadget for any white bass angler. Once a relatively deep channel has been located, a depth finder will aid in finding a deep hole or bend within the travel corridor below. The depth finder will also alert the fisherman to shad, white bass, and even alligators passing below the boat. After several passes, the fisherman will begin to get a solid idea of the depth and behavior of the white bass fish in that area.
Tip 2: Anchors Away
White bass travel in schools that are perpetually in motion. While chasing fish with a trolling motor or a paddle is tempting, a successful white bass fisherman understands that moving is counterproductive.
Unlike ocean-going fish, white bass are limited to the narrow channels they call home. This forces them into regularly covering the same ground. A successful fisherman will identify the travel corridors the fish are operating in and then anchor in it. Multiple strikes will occur should a school of white bass pass through, providing the presentation is strong.
After the school has moved on, it is a waiting game for them to return. It is not uncommon to establish a rhythm of extreme activity followed by terrible boredom, interrupted by another round of action.
Tip 3: Experiment
While live minnows are often the best choice for a white bass fisherman, this isn’t always the case. It is advisable to have multiple rods out and try different techniques at the beginning of the day, to discern which method is the most effective at that moment.
The ideal boat scenario would have one person fishing live minnows, one with a jig or spoon, and another throwing a lipless crankbait. Once one of the techniques has shown some sustained success, the other anglers would switch over to that method.