After last week’s rains, I took a scouting trip to the South Bosque to see if anything was biting. As usually happens after a significant rain event, the water was flowing strong and pushing along sticks, vegetation, and other debris, and had the coloration of chocolate milk.
Holding true to form after a good rainfall, the catfish were on the chow. Several people reported success using night crawlers, and one angler had a bucket stuffed with nice channel cats he had caught on frozen shad and shrimp.
But I didn’t go there for the catfish – I went to take part in the annual ritual known to many white bass enthusiasts as “the run.” The white bass spawning run typically takes place in February in Central Texas waters, when whites, also known as sand bass, swim by the thousands from the main bodies of lakes into rivers and creeks to lay and fertilize their eggs.
During the run, these fish are concentrated into small areas and become much easier to locate and catch. Best areas to find them are stream channels and steep drop-offs near gravel bars. Not only are they packed in, but they are feeding like hungry hippos to keep their energy levels high for the strenuous job of making baby fish.
I’ve always found that fishing with river minnows has produced the best results, but if you don’t have a net, store-bought minnows, jigs, rooster tail spinnerbaits, and tied flies are good substitutes. Fly fishermen will argue to their last breath that their method produces more strikes than any bait you can hook to a standard rod and reel, and I’ve seen a fly out-perform other baits on more than a few occasions.
Bank fishing, while certainly doable, is also limiting unless you’re willing to trudge through the mud and sometimes thick vegetation to make it to the next hot fishing spot. If you’re planning to walk, wear boots and rugged clothing to push through briars and other potential hazards without shredding your skin.
Also look out for poison ivy, check yourself for ticks, and watch for snakes, which are back up to speed thanks to the warm winter that Central Texas experienced this season.
It doesn’t take much money or fishing skill to have a successful day catching white bass during the run, and if you hit the right spot at the right time, you’ll be glad you made the trip. A schooling fish by nature, when you catch one sandy, there will surely be dozens of her friends nearby.
You can catch all you want, but each angler can only keep 25 per day, and they’ve got to be at least 10 inches in length. A valid fishing license is required for anglers 17 and older.
Lake Whitney striper fishing is back
Lake Whitney guide Clay Yadon (Facebook – Reel Deal Striper Guide Service) is giving a 5-star rating to last week’s striper fishing. “It has been awesome and getting better,” he said, adding that on some days he’s had to search a little harder for the on-the-go fish, but each trip has resulted in a limit kept and at least another limit released.
“We’re catching them in 30 feet of water on chartreuse swim baits, and the fish are in great shape,” Yadon said. “After we finish out on stripers, we’ve been tying on 1-ounce jigging spoons and catching sand bass off the bottom until we get tired of catching them.”
The highlight of last week’s fishing was a beautiful, healthy 8.5-pound largemouth bass caught in the middle of a striper feeding frenzy. “We did a quick photo and released her back into the lake,” he said.
Yadon says the water temperature is really warm for this time of year, with surface temperatures at nearly 60 degrees even on chilly mornings. “When the water warms up a little more, the fish will start relating to structure like humps and channel edges,” he said, “and the topwater bite is right around the corner. I’m sharpening my hooks as we speak.”