The white bass fishing this last week has been incredible. The daytime temps have ranged to the high 80s and water temps around 67. It all started off when Nick and I were able to get out Tuesday (03/27) evening with hopes that we might be able to locate an evening crappie bite. The weeks prior have not turned up much in the way of keeper crappie numbers. We started off with minnow rigs fishing suspended crappie close to the Hillsdale marina. The fish bite was not “ON” however the brush and rocks seemed to have a voracious appetite for our tackle. One of Nick’s rod tips also became a victim to the trolling motor prop. Lesson learned when fishing around the marina. The cables do not let go!! We moved around that area picking up a few crappies here and there but decided we would invest what was left of the day elsewhere. The evening shallow bite had been active around the little bull causeway so we felt we might find some staged slabs on the ledges and might even catch a few. After marking some fish we elected to deploy the trolling motor and crappie rigs and commenced fishing. About the time we had our 2nd pole in the water the rod tips began being pulled down into the water. Woo Hoo!! No crappie but we had stumbled across some big white bass (big for Hillsdale anyway). Catching white bass on 12” rods can be both a blessing and a curse. Once caught white bass tend to seek out other fishing line dangling in the water sometimes causing a big mess. After some early untangling and line tying we kept the rods in the water to a minimum but stuck with the long poles over the suspended schools catching a few white bass. As it got later the fish came up higher in the water column. We decided that cast and retrieve would be more successful and boy was it. Nick was throwing a small deep rattling thin fin while I was throwing a jig with a twist tail grub. There was top water activity all around the Little Bull causeway and as we were catching fish out in the boat the shore fisherman were fairing equally well. The action lasted for well over an hour and we both enjoyed fighting each fish. We had a school of 12” shad surfacing within 40 feet of the boat. I never knew this but it turns out they will bite a jig as well. All my years of fishing I have never caught shad in the mouth with a jig. To prove it was not a fluke I did it twice. Turns out those suckers fight!! They are extremely slimy and make taking them off the hook a chore. As the sun headed over the horizon and the lighted bobbers started showing up we decided we had better head in.
I received a hot tip from none other than Adam and Eric that a shallow crappie bite was on (See Back to Basics). Based on this “tip” the next night I elected to bring my 7 year old son Thomas and his friend out for what I was sure was to be an evening of catching hundreds of crappie. We had minnows and bobbers but unfortunately I did not have the most important kid requirement, SNACKS!! No snacks means the kids can really focus in on the lack of fish catching. We moved a few times looking for crappie but on this night I was unable to locate them shallow. Remembering the luck with the whites Nick and I had a few nights prior we boated over to that area and the whites were right where we left them. Both boys were able to reel in several fish before they had me convinced they were starving.
Over the course of the past few days I had several more outings and had the privilege of fishing with several friends having enjoyable outings each time. The white bass bite has been on fire. The quantity and quality of the fish have both been excellent. We have found the white bass in large schools stacked up on breaks waiting to ambush shad. On my last outing Eric and I were catching fish after fish with several 2lbers. We both had that little kid glow!
When the crappies are scattered and difficult to hone in on why not let the fast action of white bass fill the time? Fishing for all species is only going to get better over the next few weeks. I am already looking forward to my next outing.