WHITE BASS RUN ABOUT TO TAKE OFF
Activity just beginning for this spring fishing favorite
PRATT -- White bass are common in almost all Kansas reservoirs today, and many anglers look forward to the spring spawning run up rivers that feed these lakes. Lately, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) staff have been getting calls from anglers worried that they might have missed this year's run, but nothing could be further from the truth.
"I really don't think it's gotten going good yet," says Kyle Austin, fisheries management specialist for KDWP. "The water in the rivers is warming, and some males have moved upstream to wait for females, but they really haven't moved yet. Water temperature [typically about 50 degrees to start the run] is important, but photoperiod is important, as well. As the days get longer, the females will start to move. By late April and early May, anglers will start catching big females."
Water temperatures typically vary from north to south in Kansas, so some movement may begin later in the state's northernmost lakes. Another factor controlling the white bass run is water flow. Without good stream flow, the fish can't make it upstream. Many of the state's reservoirs hold good populations of whites. Kanopolis, Glen Elder, Perry, and Cedar Bluff appear to hold the greatest numbers this year. (Reservoir ratings for all fish may be found in KDWP's Fishing Forecast online at www.kdwp.state.ks.us.) Kanopolis and Glen Elder both report fair water flow into the lakes from recent rains although anglers have not had much luck in the rivers yet. At Perry, the river flow is fair up to a rip-rap barrier at Valley Falls, about five river miles, and a few whites have been caught. Having missed recent rains in the northwest, Cedar Bluff reports that water flow is minimal. This could change with spring rains, however, and whites can still be caught in the lake, primarily over the north shore's main lake points.
White bass prefer to spawn in rocky or brushy areas along riffles and stage in deeper water above and below these areas. These are good areas to target. Brush piles can be good, as well, and may offer the bonus of a nice channel cat or other species.
Most white bass fishermen use artificial baits such as jigs, small spinners, and spoons, but live minnows work well, too. Light or medium action spinning tackle and 6- to 8-pound test line is the preferred equipment. An average white bass will weigh about a pound, but some may grow to 4 pounds. Landing a hard-fighting white that size requires high-quality line.
While many white bass fishermen wade streams during the spring spawning run, some use boats on larger rivers. For smaller streams, a jon boat or canoe equipped with a trolling motor can be an advantage.
For the avid angler who has yet to dip a line this spring, it's time to get ready; the white bass run is about to take off. And crappie won't be far behind.