Lakecaster Online

White Bass Fishing
by JOHN PLUMB

 

Overlook It's normal for this time of year that fishing is slow to non-existent for the average fisher. Normally, the gregarious white bass is so willing to play, and even in deep dog days, some activity could be expected in a day afloat. It is my observation that the quality of fish has declined this year. Some ask why, and some of us know.

The problem is age old. Netters up-river are catching the larger fish by the tens of thousands every year, eliminating the prolific spawners before they have a chance to lay their eggs. How do I know this. Well, it's fairly easy to see net marks on the freshly returned fish that were too small to be captured in the net, but of a size to get battle scars. I net fished when it was legal on the coast, and have seen thousands of fish with the tell-tale marks. Not rocket science.

Now, the TPWD folks say they have it under control. I realize they are under staffed and over worked, and this job is one that will never get done. If caught, these netters that are busted find themselves in front of a local JP, fined and set loose. Three days later they're back in business. Some harvest as much as 400-500 lbs. of filets a day. For five years running, a good spawn has been evident by the numbers of 3 inch fish that invade the lake each summer.

Go figure. What to do? Well, don't feel bad. No one else has figured it out either. The fishers that fool around up the river know, but big brother is not watching above the Big Eddy. Their world seems to end at Bedias Creek, long known as an outlaw fisherman's haven. There is much more to it than that. It's a difficult problem with no known answer.

Several people I know did fairly well early on, finding ample schooling action, and on structure fish. River related structure seemed to be the ticket. Jerry Racca of Onalaska caught about as many as anyone I know. He is fairly relentless in his fishing, and goes much in the early and late hours. Maybe this is the ticket. He is still catching catfish as I write this, so fishing is not all dead.

For the most part, white bass fishing has slowed to near stop due to the heat, and no cooling rains. Water temperature is important in that the warmer the temp, the more saturated oxygen is released and the fish must seek more favorable depths. Depths not usually looked at by average boaters. Fish found in shallow water will not be around long. Their need of oxygen will dictate the duration before returning to the "comfort zone." That depth, last time I was out was 30-40 feet. Fish were there, but not playing.

Encounters do occur. There is always luck. Fishing is 50 percent luck. I'd rather be lucky than good on any day. This is not meant to spread gloom and doom, but to prepare you for a hot, dry day, with little hope of hitting a limit. Prepare for many small fish. It's about all that's left.

With the coming of cooler weather, some marked activity will happen. Fishing should improve after the first cool front, if it amounts to anything. The fish will feel the differential and react. So will the fishers. Cooler weather will draw all of us out of the woodwork, and get us OUT ON THE LAKE.

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