AR: White bass plentiful, challenging but often overlooked

LITTLE ROCK – It’s white bass time. Say this out loud among
Arkansas fishermen, and you may get some funny looks along with
barbed comments.

The arrival of April is regarded as crappie time or bass time or
maybe bream time. White bass? They re definitely also-rans among
Arkansas fish in popularity.

But white bass have their good sides too, according to the
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. One, they are plentiful and in
various types of waters. Two, they are not bashful about what they
will hit – everything from live minnows to crank bits and jigs.
Three, the daily limit is 25 statewide, so if you get into a good
bunch of whites, you may need help carrying an ice chest of them
home.

White bass can’t approach the appeal of crappie to anglers, but
they are an alternative, a spring extra that can provide fun and
food for the table.

Yes, you’ll get an argument on the latter point, but white bass
are edible, at least in most households. They rank below crappie,
of course. Nearly all fish do. Most fishermen who dress out whites
are careful to remove the thin strip of darker red meat on each
side.

White bass are nearly everywhere in Arkansas. They’re in big
lakes in big numbers, in small lakes and in rivers large and small.
The Arkansas River is loaded with them. In central Arkansas, Lake
Conway has numerous white bass, generally ignored by fishermen
pursuing crappie, bass, bream and catfish. Greers Ferry Lake has
huge numbers of whites. To the southwest, Millwood Lake is good for
white bass. To the west, Lake Ouachita is heavy with white bass. To
the northern strip of Arkansas, Beaver Lake, Bull Shoals Lake and
Norfolk Lake are all good bets for white bass.

White bass travel upstream, most often from a lake into its
feeder rivers and creeks, to spawn over gravel or rocks. But the
good times for white bass fishing stretch to either end of the
actual spawning periods. The fish tend to congregate on the upper
ends of lakes near the mouths of these feeder streams for several
days before actually going upstream. Then they’ll come back down
and hang around the mouths after spawning.

A general rule of thumb for baits in these areas and at this
time of the year is to try anything resembling a shad. Live minnows
can work, as can live shad when you can get a supply. Much more
common, though, are artificial lures like white or light colored
jigs, soft plastic grubs, spinners like the Roadrunner, topwaters
like Red Fins and even spinner baits of the type usually worked for
largemouth bass.

There is a difference in fishing for schooling white bass, which
can occur much of the year, and for the spawning run white bass.
Yet, the assortment of lures is virtually the same. These work both
at schooling and at spawning times. A white bass feeds almost
entirely on shad, small gizzard shad and the threadfin shad that
come only in small sizes.

A fair-sized wide-bodied white bass can put up a good scrap on
light or even medium tackle, too.

 

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