There’s good news for Georgia anglers: the white bass are here again!
Warming temperatures and lengthening days are the triggers that launch the annual springtime white bass run, and the fishing that results can indeed be fast and furious. It’s already happening in the southern parts of the state, and odds are that the excitement will begin in these parts any day now.
Traditional wisdom has it that white bass run about the same time the dogwoods bloom. The cause is a water temperature in the mid 50s.
What’s it like when white bass run? During the peak of the run, the numbers of fish in the rivers can be truly astounding. Fish of a half pound to a couple of pounds are the norm, though larger ones are sometimes encountered.
Every seasoned white bass enthusiast will affirm that when you catch one white bass, you can expect to catch more. It’s not just a fish here and a fish there. The number of fish can be amazing to those who have never experienced the fun of a white bass run.
Where can you look for white bass? Focus on rivers and streams which feed large lakes. Hereabouts, check out the rivers and streams feeding Lake Allatoona (the Etowah and Little River) and Lanier (the Chestatee and the Chattahoochee). A little farther afield, check out the Coosa River (and of course the Oostanaula and Etowah, which join to form the Coosa), which feeds Alabama’s Lake Weiss. Many consider the Coosa run to be the best in the state.
While a boat definitely provides greater access to good white bass water, some areas (including the Little River at Olde Rope Mill Park near I-575 as well as Mayo Lock and Dam Park on the Coosa River) provide opportunities to fish for white bass from shore.
What about tactics? During the run, white bass tend to congregate below shoals, near the mouth of creeks, near large brushpiles, close to sandbars, or near other obstructions that interrupt the flow. Such areas can hold large numbers of fish and are considered prime spots, so don’t be surprised to find them crowded with anglers at times.
What kind of gear? Spinning enthusiasts do well with small, 2- to 3-inch, light-colored minnow imitations. Small plugs or in-line spinners will do the job; so will simple white jigheads fitted with a curly-tailed plastic grub. If your lure’s color scheme includes a touch of red or chartreuse, so much the better.
If you’re fly fishing, try bright and flashy streamers such as the Rolex or the Hudson Streamer. A weighted white Bream Buster tied on a size six or eight hook will work too. You want fairly heavy flies so they’ll get down into the lower half of the water column.
Whether spin fishing or fly fishing, allow the lure to sink a bit before beginning the retrieve. Use the “count-down” technique - that is, allow the lure to sink to various depths while you count off seconds - to find the depth where the fish are holding. Then simply use a more-or-less steady retrieve – and hold on!
Because no complicated techniques are required, white bass is particularly fun with kids. All that a young angler needs is a basic spinning rod and some grubtail jigs or spinners.
The white bass action will continue into April, when the fish will leave the rivers and return to the depths of the lakes. But while it’s on, it offers a great opportunity for some unforgettable fishing.
If you enjoy fly fishing for white bass, you may be interested in a special fly tying class set for Saturday, March 11, at Alpharetta Outfitters. This class, taught by Yours Truly, is designed to teach you how to tie and fish some of the most effective flies for white bass fishing. There is a charge for the class. Space is limited, and preregistration is required. For more information, contact Alpharetta Outfitters at 678-762-0027.
Meanwhile, be sure to say hello if you see me out on one of our rivers over the next few weeks. White bass season is short, and odds are I’ll be out there every chance I get.
And holler if you hook a big one. I’ll come running and take your picture!