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Sep 03-27-2009 06:07 AM

White Bass on the Run
 
http://i623.photobucket.com/albums/t...tWhiteBass.jpg

Iím always excited about a new fishing experience. I fished my home waters again today, but this time I went downstream about three miles from my usual haunts and fished not too far from where the river empties into the local reservoir. There the river is wider and more open than my cozy, braided section, and a good bit more rugged.

To add to the novelty, it was my first outing with my new 8wt, a TFO Axiom with a Lamson 3.5 Guru reel, loaded with SA Sharkskin GPX line. Itís a beast of a rig, set up with visions of reds and bonefish flats in my future, and itís been impatiently waiting in the closet for a chance to get wet. It may have been a bit of overkill for my plans today, but I just had to use it.

What was truly new today was that I was chasing white bass, hoping that the annual spawning run had begun and that the high, murky water wouldnít make the trip unproductive. We are still recovering from last weekís rains and the water is still high and fast, almost borderline for wading in some places, but more worrisome was the heavily stained water. Iíve read that white bass ďprefer to swim in clear waterĒ and are ďvisual feedersĒ, both tendencies not well supported in todayís conditions.

And the day started slowly indeed. I threw a sizable white and chartreuse clauser into pools below heavy drops and didnít draw interest short of a single white crappie. I then switched to a black and white streamer, thinking I needed something darker in the stained water, and found a small largemouth bass, but no white ones. Before calling it a day, I made one more switch to a #2 chartreuse spoon fly with a white tail, and things got interesting. I found a stretch between a pair of rock escarpments, threw the spoon across the slowly moving river, and let it swing drift, allowing it to settle and giving it an occasional short, brisk strip to give it some swimming action. It took but half a dozen casts to get my first strike, and my first white bass, a 10-inch fish that had surprising fight, even against the 8wt.

http://i623.photobucket.com/albums/t...hiteBass-1.jpg

Over the next 30 minutes I caught a couple others, 10-12 inches, and missed a few more before I noticed some action on the top of the water, an occasional baitfish scrambling, no doubt away from running whites. Since something seemed to be looking up, I casted farther and quickened my stripping, keeping the spoon closer to the surface, and my very first try yielded another fish. For another hour and a half, I varied the spoonís actions, up and down the water column and seemed to have some luck in all areas. Not surprisingly, most hits came as the spoon approached the pillows in front of the lower rock section. In the end, I caught 8 fish, all in the 10-12 inch range, and all with plenty of pluck.

The only problem I had related to the spoon was that the white bass have small mouths and literally inhaled the fly, hooking them relatively deeply. All but one required forceps to release. I donít think I hurt any badly, but each was at risk and I pride myself in releasing fish healthy, ready to fight another day.

Eight bass in 2 hours doesnít seem to measure up to the stories I have heard about good white bass runs and I was expecting some larger fish, but any number of factors could be contributing, including:

a) the run is just getting started
b) the run is ending
c) the water, level and murkiness, made sight feeding difficult
d) I have no idea what I am doing

While it's never a bad bet to go with d, the good news is that the answer may actually be a. A good friend says that his cue for the run is the blooming of the dogwoods, yet to occur here. As more proof, he says that, prior to the run, the smaller males start showing up in bigger numbers, and my catches appear to support that model. As plucky as the small males were, I look forward to catching the ladies. Maybe the 8wt's not such a bad idea....

So, as I sit here looking out the window, I see the redbuds exploding in color and, as is the order of things, small, yellow buds beginning to appear on the intermingled dogwoods, hopefully signs that the hot white bass fishing may be just around the corner. The weather looks to be turning though, rain in the forecast that might very well push water levels higher. The same thing happened last year and we never got a good shot at the whites, so I guess we shall just see what the next several days bring. Regardless, the first white bass appear to be in the river right now and the prospect of better fishing to come seems bright. Whether it works out well, or doesnít, I was happy to have had a sniff today.

Sep

mcnerney 03-27-2009 08:28 AM

Re: White Bass on the Run
 
Sep

I enjoyed reading your fishing report and the photo of your fish and the new Lamson Guru is great. Bet that would be a killer rig on the reds.

Larry

arfishinbear 03-27-2009 09:28 AM

Re: White Bass on the Run
 
Looks like a great trip man, I like that spoon fly to
Bear

Sep 03-27-2009 11:51 AM

Re: White Bass on the Run
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by arfishinbear (Post 54307)
... I like that spoon fly to.

I like it too, but realized as I looked at the picture again that I should have tied it on with a loop rather than a cinch. Would have given it a little more freedom to do its thing. Thanks for pointing me back to it, Bear!!!!

Quote:

Originally Posted by mcnerney (Post 54301)
... the photo of your fish and the new Lamson Guru is great. Bet that would be a killer rig on the reds.

Larry, I can't wait to chase some reds with it. I think it will be perfect. And I just got the "stream camera", an Olympus Stylus Tough-8000, and love what comes out of it. Another example, from last week....

http://i623.photobucket.com/albums/t...budDouble1.jpg

Sep

Sep 04-13-2009 10:03 AM

Re: White Bass on the Run
 
http://i623.photobucket.com/albums/t...NotaWhite2.jpg
Yeah, I know it's not a white. Keep reading....

Itís been over two weeks since I first started chasing the Haw's white bass and the river has been unfishable since. It has been incredibly frustrating thinking that we were missing the annual run due to high conditions. Thursday evening, finally, the water began to settle to semi-reasonable levels, and my friend Dave and I were on it first thing Friday morning. Sad to say, the whites were not as ready as we were.

I was surprised at the number of vehicles parked at the Robeson Creek launch at 9:00 on a Friday morning. Don't people have to work or something? Over the next couple of hours we saw several fisherman; spin casters, fly fisherman, kayaks, canoes, and even a bass boat pushing upstream from Lake Jordan. And from everyone the story was the same. Nothing. Nada. Zip. No white bass.

Dave had to head back after a couple of hours, but, not being one to suffer a skunking lightly, I retreated to my normal stretch of water, gave up on the whites, and tried to scare up a largemouth in the murky and high water. It took a while, but I went back to fishing deep holes with a Murrays Marauder and I did finally entice a sturdy 16 inch bucketmouth (above), followed shortly by a smaller 8 inch fish (below). The first made the day, as large bass on a fly rod have a way of doing. The second was a bonus as I had made my last cast for the day, was reeling up my stripped line, and he took the fly dangling a leader length off the end of my rod. Sometimes you're good, sometimes you're lucky. I'm usually neither.

http://i623.photobucket.com/albums/t...WhiteSmall.jpg

Iím not sure exactly where we stand with the white bass; if they are done, not started, or slow, but Iím going to keep trying while the dogwoods are in bloom. The water was a somewhat chilly 55 degrees so I am hoping they are still going to be out there for us in the settling water and coming warm up.

Oh @#$%, itís starting to rain again.

Sep

BigCliff 04-13-2009 11:40 AM

Re: White Bass on the Run
 
Looks to me like you're doing alright.

But if you're catching largemouth and not catching whites, the whites probably aren't there. The water conditions can't be helping though. Try this: when the water looks like chocolate milk, use a large-ish black bugger and a sinking polyleader. The bugger will push more water to get their attention, and the poly leader will functionally turn your line into a sink tip, thus making it easier to get down to where the whites likely are. (and probably make that Axiom cast more like a normal rod too) While using the sinking leader, use flies that aren't your heaviest, to reduce hang ups.

Sep 04-13-2009 12:03 PM

Re: White Bass on the Run
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BigCliff (Post 56371)
Looks to me like you're doing alright.

But if you're catching largemouth and not catching whites, the whites probably aren't there. The water conditions can't be helping though. Try this: when the water looks like chocolate milk, use a large-ish black bugger and a sinking polyleader. The bugger will push more water to get their attention, and the poly leader will functionally turn your line into a sink tip, thus making it easier to get down to where the whites likely are. (and probably make that Axiom cast more like a normal rod too) While using the sinking leader, use flies that aren't your heaviest, to reduce hang ups.

The Haw's a funny place. Largemouths everywhere and whites in the lower mile for a period during their spring run. It's not unusual to catch both in the same water, as I did on March 27th. (On friday my spots were about three miles apart). The sink tip is a good idea. I've been meaning to take them, but forgot last time out.

Actually, I'm liking that Axiom. More limber than I had anticipated.

THANKS!!!!!

Sep


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