By Bradford Wade
Like lightning, the white bass action can start without warning. This fast pace action comes when the white bass begin their spawning run. Yellow, white, and hybrid bass all begin moving into the tributaries after spring rains warm the waters. These fish are often found in large schools and can be a source of some quick, fun fishing. I have a few tricks that seem to make all the difference between ten fish an hour and a hundred fish an hour.
Match the local bait fish.
Here on the Tennessee River, our primary forage fish are shad. I tend to throw a small Clouser minnow in a gray and white color pattern. Besides the color, you also want to match the size of the bait. I find it better to go slightly smaller than too big. White bass like to inspect the fly for several seconds and a smaller fly tends to convince to strike more often than a larger one.
Debarb your hook.
When you find a school of fish, the action can be hot and quick. Having a barb can prolong unhooking the bass and can result in more trouble than what its worth. Pinching down the barb will result in more fish and more fun.
Variety is key.
Try different retrievals till you find what works. Often the bass will follow your fly but not strike it. When I encounter this problem, I often cast back to the same spot and speed up my retrieval. A simple strip, pause, strip retrieve is what works best for me.
Fish the “magic hour”.
Fishing the magic hour can lead to the best white bass fishing you can get. This magic fishing hour starts around 30 minutes before sunset and lasts till dark. Be aware of the long shadows your body will cause due to the setting sun. A quick way to end a fishing frenzying is by spooking the school with your shadow.
White bass can be a lot of fun. They are hard fighters, and their competitive nature often results in the biggest fish of the school being caught first. Don’t be afraid to change things up till it works. A white fly can be hot one day and a purple fly the next. The best anglers are those that can adapt their technique to the daily changes even if it means trying something new.