Keith Rodriguez

Keith Rodriguez with a 22-inch hybrid-striper he caught on a ghost minnow last week at Lake Waco.

Courtesy of Keith Rodriguez

With most things in life, there’s more than one right way to do something, and fishing is no exception.

While a lot of Central Texans have been making the annual fishing pilgrimage to the rivers to catch spawning white bass, others have kept busy catching fish on the main lake.

A lot of things contribute to a successful white bass spawning run. Factors like drought when the stream flow is too low, or seasons with excessive rainfall and flooding, play big parts in determining whether the fish move upstream or not.

But some sand bass are happy laying eggs and having their young closer to home, and anglers like Keith Rodriguez have been filling their live wells just as quickly as those catching them in the tributaries.

Rodriguez, who has been featured a number of times in the Tribune-Herald outdoors page – since before you could tell a white bass from a hybrid – has figured out a system that loads the boat with scrappy whites and big hybrids from Lake Waco’s main body.

Besides locating the big schools of fish, the most important ingredient in a successful day is figuring out what they want to eat, and common sense tells us that fish prefer baits that either mimic their favorite foods or actually are their favorite foods.

So Rodriguez uses ghost minnows, which are the sand bass’s go-to food. Ghost minnows can either be seined or caught with a cast net, so you’re going to have to work a little harder for the payoff. I’ve had good results catching them with a cast net at night after drawing them in with a floating crappie light.

His approach is simple, tried, and true. Drop a baited hook, line, and sinker to a sandy bottom and wait. And sometimes, Rodriguez says, you don’t have to wait long. “Some days, you’ll get bites as soon as the bait hits the bottom,” he said, adding, “and we’ve had some 3-man limits in only 30 minutes.” He and his fishing partner and nephew, Jordan Colvin, caught nearly 150 in a 2-day span last week.

He’s fishing in 15-20 feet of water and slowly moving the bait across the bottom. Mixed in with the schools of sandies is the occasional hybrid, which can measure upwards of 2 feet in length. Rodriguez has caught some big ones lately that measured 20-22 inches long.

Rodriguez and his dad started catching whites this way when Keith was 6 years old, and whether there has been water in the rivers or not, he has filled his freezer every spring with sand bass fillets.

Rio Grande turkey spring season opens April 1st

Texas hunters get the chance to go afield again this month with the opening of the Rio Grande turkey spring season. The North Zone season, which covers 101 counties, including a good number in Central Texas, runs from April 1 – May 14. Special “youth only” seasons are scheduled on Mar. 25-26 and May 6-7.

Many counties east of the Hill/McLennan/Bell County line do not have an open season in the spring, with the exception of Milam, which has a 1-turkey bag limit.

Check the TPWD Outdoor Annual or website for specific details on the county you plan to hunt.


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