BOB MAINDELLE: Is the white bar already spinning? | outdoor sports
“Does the white bar work already?”
It’s a question that’s starting to crop up more and more frequently as February gives way to March and winter gives way to spring.
The answer really depends on who you ask.
The problem is that the term “running” means different things to different people. Some say, incorrectly, that white bass run in the summer months when they churn the surface for up to an hour or more at a time, forcing young shad to trap and feed on them. .
Yet others say, also incorrectly, that white bass run in April and May when they hunt threadfin shad parallel to the shore in less than three or four feet of water.
Most, however, understand correctly when they say white bass run, for they are referring to the habit that most white bass exhibit in the spring – that of running upstream into the tributaries that feed our Texas reservoirs in order to spawn.
This run is influenced by a number of factors including water temperature, day length and water flow.
Generally speaking, migrating white bass make their run through tributaries beginning in late February and end their spawning behavior just after mid-April here in our part of Texas. Spawning occurs later as one moves further north.
Spawning activity, if plotted on a graph, would look like a normal or bell-shaped curve, with some fish spawning early, some fish spawning late, and the vast majority spawning somewhere in the middle of this curve of about seven to eight-week period.
Biologists have studied this white bass spawn extensively, and evidence shows that years of high flow in tributaries generally lead to the most fish showing up to spawn and the best spawning results, with lots of young white bass produced. .
Biologists have also noted that not all white bass spawn in tributaries, instead suspecting that they use windblown shores and other areas where moving water is found.
So, back to our original question. Is the white bar already working?
Certainly, as early as the first week of March, and with a nice warming trend in the last week, white bass begins to move through the various tributaries of Belton and Stillhouse Hollow tributaries such as Lampasas River, Leon River and Creek Cowhouse. . Unfortunately, with both lakes being around three feet deep and with virtually no discharge from the dams (which equates to almost zero flow in the tributaries), there will be virtually no activity in the minor tributaries – tributaries like Trimmier Creek, Bull Creek, Methaglin Creek, Owl Creek, etc.
A few fish will continue to make their way up these minor waterways, but their numbers will pale in comparison to the number of fish found in years with high water levels and abundant flow through the dams.
There are several ways to approach angling for these fish moving upstream to spawn.
Admittedly, trolling for crankbaits is a reliable tactic. Unlike spawning salmon which flow in long, uninterrupted schools of thousands of fish in their native waters, white bass arrive in flocks. A few now, a few more later, then no fish for a while, then another big push, and so on. It’s pretty random. So, with lures able to cover a lot of water and fish broken up into small schools during their trip, anglers are likely to encounter or intercept at least a few fish this way.
Believe it or not, fly fishing is another effective approach to catching breeding fish. This tactic is effective when fish penetrate as far into tributaries as they can, often where boats cannot access.
Casting light lead-head jigs with white or chartreuse curly-tailed soft plastic grubs is also a proven tactic when used on light tackle. Cover lots of water with lots of casts to find fish, but once one is caught, repeated casts in the same vicinity will often result in multiple fish landing in a short time.
Personally, I don’t like to fish with a lot of other boats or people around. If there’s one thing you can be assured of when fishing spawning white bass in tributaries, it’s that you’ll have company.
Instead of competing with other anglers for those nets of fish crossing a particular segment of water, I instead prefer to stay on the tank proper and continue catching fish with vertical and horizontal tactics, aided by sonar, avoiding so do the crowds.
Since spawning is spread out over such a long time, there is never a time when at least a few white bass aren’t in the tanks themselves. In low flow years, such as 2022 is so far, the number of fish that do not make their way to tributaries is higher, increasing the chances of ending up on the main lake.
Is the white bar already working? Yes they are, but we could definitely use some rain to raise the elevation of our reservoirs and increase water flow in the major and minor tributaries.