Chasing Summertime White Bass


All across the Midwest, a fish is being overlooked by many anglers during the summer months. That’s largely due to the common misconception that they just cannot be caught during the heat of the summer months. For whatever reason, anglers seem to think the great bite is over till the next spring run. In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth!

In the Midwest, the rivers that these savage fighters call home are producing great catches right now for those willing to shake the old myth that they can’t be caught in warm weather. With just a little preparation and patience, and a change in technique on your part, you can catch these feisty fighters right now with excellent regularity. With that said, let’s go catch a mess of these tasty fish—white bass—for the deep fryer.

In speaking with many anglers over the years, I find that many of these anglers are simply fishing in locations where the white bass are not living during this time of year. Due to the much warmer water conditions we experience during the summer months, the fish have simply changed locations and adapted to locations that are much more favorable to their liking. What does this move in location mean? It means much deeper water locations.


Comfort Zone

Another way to say it is that these fish have moved to the comfort zone in the rivers that suit them best. That’s right, comfort zones. All species of fish have them. These are areas where the schools of big white bass can spend their time in cooler waters that also contain good numbers of baitfish to feed on. With these two ingredients available, white bass have found their preferred location to spend the warm weather period. So, now that we are thinking about concentrating our efforts deep water, let’s discuss how to go about catching yourself a nice cooler of big summer white bass.

When starting your search, it’s always a great idea to have a good map of the area you intend to fish. Look it over before you even hit the water. Note: You can find many of these river maps online that feature detailed depths, which will help you in your initial search. Online searching is also great if you fish multiple rivers. When you find the map you want, simply print it out to take along on your trip.

Look for areas of the river with outside river bends, steep-tapering shorelines that quickly drop off into deep water, and rocky structure areas that are located in deep water. These areas are prime locations for summer white bass to congregate, and you will usually find large schools holding there. Use your depth finder to locate and verify the area is as shown on the map. The reason I say this is that, in river environments with constant current, spots can change in topography quite quickly. What might be shown on your map may not be accurate.

Depending on how advanced your sonar is, you can really pinpoint these locations with accuracy. If you have a GPS on your unit and you locate the conditions we are speaking of, simply waypoint it for future reference.

Since we are fishing deep-water locations, start fishing by vertically jigging some type of a jigging spoon. There are two important thinks you should keep in mind.


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Lure Choice

First, make sure the jigging spoon is heavy enough to reach the bottom easily. This is something you will have to determine on the water due to your conditions at the time. Current and depth being fished are the main factors here. You will want to go heavy enough to maintain good lure control, but not so heavy as to make the lure sink way too fast. Like I said, you will have to experiment here.

Second, use a jigging spoon that has a lot of flash to get the fish’s attention. Experiment with the speed of your jigging motion until you find out how aggressive the fish are. Sometimes they want it fast; other times, just a subtle motion does the trick.

You can also try jigging round-head style jigs with big, bushy hair tails. White is an excellent color for this deep-water fishing. Again, vary your jigging motion until you know what the fish want.

As a bonus, take a nice, lively minnow or nightcrawler and lower it down into the area you are fishing on a dead stick rod. Make sure it’s secured so it doesn’t get pulled overboard by a big strike, as white bass hit savagely. You will be surprised at how many fish a dead stick will catch.

I’ll tell you my friends, don’t fall into that old misconception of thinking that those big white bass are uncatchable during summer. They’re there, they’re hungry and they are waiting for you. Remember, they have not left the river, they’ve just temporarily changed their address from where they were living in spring.

Note: When catching tasty white bass, always put the fish you keep directly on ice when caught for freshness. Also, when filleting white bass, always cut out the center section of red meat on the fillet by making a vee cut on each side and removing. That is where the fishy taste some folks don’t like comes from. Soak fillets in cold saltwater for a bit, rinse well, pat dry, add your favorite breading and deep fry. Enjoy!



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