The spring fishing season is the most popular with anglers for good reason. Warming water temperatures activate natural spawning instincts of many area sport fish and increase their activity levels. Although most East Texas anglers target either largemouth bass or crappie during the spring season, an abundant but overlooked sport fish is the white bass.
White bass are some of the earliest spawners in East Texas. When the water temperatures exceed 53-55 F (typically late January, February and early March), the white bass makes spawning runs up accessible rivers and streams. For those of you without a temperature gauge, if the redbud trees are blooming, the white bass are on the move. The males migrate first, sometimes a month before the females. Spawning in a given area usually takes place over a period of 5 - 10 days. Reproduction takes place at the surface, as fish are observed splashing and rolling. Several males may attend one female and the eggs are scattered in open water. White bass eggs are adhesive and sink to the bottom. Unlike largemouth bass, crappie, or sunfish, white bass do not construct nests and provide no protection for the eggs or fry. In general, less than 5% of fry will survive their first year. Therefore, each female produces about 500,000 eggs to combat the high mortality rate.
Some of the better places to target white bass during their spawning run include the upper reaches of Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn reservoirs and the tailrace below B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir.
Toledo Bend Reservoir: Concentrate in the river channel above the lake as far as two or three miles upstream of Joaquin bridge on Highway 84, East of Center.
Sam Rayburn Reservoir: The Angelina River above Marion's Ferry boat ramp off Highway 103 west of Lufkin is a very good place to target white bass. These fish can be caught as far up river as the Rivercrest Community out of Redland on Highway 59 north of Lufkin. Other potential places include 1) the Attoyac River east of Lufkin on Highway 103 upstream above the bridge, 2) Ayish Bayou west of Pineland at the public ramp on Highway 83, and 3) the tailrace and Angelina River below Sam Rayburn Reservoir when water is being released from the lake (also the best bet for bank anglers).
B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir: This lake provides the best bank access for anglers without boats. Potential hotspots include 1) the tailrace below the dam, 2) the low water crossing on Sandy Creek at East End Park on the south end of the lake, and 3) Wolf Creek north of Highway 190 on Highway 92 at Magnolia Ridge Park.
As with any type of fishing, the best lures to use vary from day to day. It is best to have an assortment of rubber/hair jigs, road runners, small spinners, rat-l-traps, slab spoons, and gay blades. For those that prefer live bait, some use small live white crawfish and have good luck. Get your light tackle and go for the white bass during their spawning period. Good luck and good fishing!