Birds, Bait & Bass: Finding Schools Of Fish

White bass, silver bass, sand bass – many different names for the schooling fish that is fun to catch and great to eat. Typically found in lakes and rivers, it is one of the easiest fish to catch – as long as you know where to find them. A lot of people rely on electronic devices (fish finders) to locate schools of bass, but you really do not need to be that high-tech in order to do this.

What if we told you that there are some classic tricks and techniques, which you can use to locate schools of white bass? But before we delve into these, let’s talk a bit about white bass behavior.

What to Expect from White Bass?

The first thing to learn about is white bass behavior. If you are familiar with fishing freshwater reservoirs, then you are probably aware that different types of fish tend to exhibit different behavior. For example, you expect crappie to be suspended in cover most of the time. In a similar fashion, largemouth bass tends to stick to heavy cover in the bottom, usually waiting in ambush for smaller fish.

So, what does white bass do? You will find them schooling on the move for the most part of the year, and pinpointing the exact locations of white bass schools is the key to having a killer fishing trip. The activity of white bass peaks during dawn and dusk, so these are the best times to fish for them. Of course, this does not mean that other hours of the day are out of the question – but targeting them at dusk or dawn is likely to yield better results.

How to Locate Schools of White Bass without a Fish Finder?

While a fish finder is almost mandatory if you want to have a chance to catch certain types of fish (e.g. largemouth bass,) it is far from necessary when it comes to white bass. Of course, it is still usable, but you will spend an unnecessary amount of time to deploy the sonar and analyze the readings. Instead of opting to use technology, why don’t you just trust your eyesight? A quick look at your surroundings can tell you enough to locate schools of white bass.

How often do you look at the skies while fishing? You would be surprised how much useful information you can find there, especially if you keep a close eye on birds that appear to be flocking around a certain area. This usually means that there is a strong chance that there is a bait ball right underneath these birds – it is guaranteed to be the case if some of the birds are diving into the water. But how does this help you? Well, typically, bait balls are not that far away from the predatory fish in the area – be it striped bass or, as in this case, white bass. To put it short, fish equals bait balls, and bait balls equal a school of predatory fish.

You Found the Bait Ball, What Now?

Once you found the bait ball, you were able to find the approximate location of a school of white bass. Now, it is time to figure out how to approach the area without scaring everything away. Of course, you can’t go right on top of it – you want to be in throwing distance of the action, but make sure to get there by drifting.

Once you have arrived, you will probably get a glimpse of the action – some white bass swimming near the surface or chasing shad/minnows or whatever baitfish you have in the area. Continue keeping an eye on the birds as well – you will see the exact places they dive into, and this will tell you where you need to aim when you throw.  

How to Fish in Schools of White Bass?

You have located the perfect spot, got near it, and now it is time for the moment you have been waiting for – making the first throw. But what type of bait do you use? Just about any angler with some experience knows that white bass is easy to catch with live bait, but you might want to experiment with many other types of bait as well. The high concentration of fish in the area you have selected means that you will have an easy time catching fish with all sorts of bait. But this is exactly what can be so attractive about this type of white bass fishing – all you need is a trusty crappie rod, some six-pound-test cord, and your favorite type of lure.

You can go with light tackle, swimbaits, spoons, kastmasters, road runner lures – anything that is shiny and looks somewhat like your typical baitfish. Do not hesitate to up the retrieve speed – going slow is unnecessary when you have been able to locate schools of white bass. Just throw and pull, throw and pull – you will be surprised with the results.

Another fun thing to try is to set up a two-bait rig – make sure to learn how to do this when you plan to try and locate schools of white bass. Catching two at a time is fun on a light setup.

Anything Else to Know?

The best part about this old-school trick for locating predatory fish like white bass is that it is applicable for other types of fish as well. So, the next time you go to the lake, do not forget to follow nature’s hints – keep your eye on the sky, and observe bird behavior. Once you have pinpointed the location of the birds, you will know where to find the bait balls and then drift near this location to start throwing.

Of course, if you enjoy using a fish finder, then do not hesitate to keep doing so – but make sure to remember this clever trick as it is not only useful, but you can also use it to impress the people on your next fishing trip.  

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Fishing Report from TPWD (Jul. 10)

GOOD. Water stained; 90 degrees; 5.11 feet above pool. Lots of floating debris after the recent rains from Hurricane Beryl. Water level is slowly dropping, but fishing conditions and patterns are holding steady. Summer bite is just around the corner when we will see the bass draw to deeper water points and white bass schooling. Bass are good on topwaters, or flipping soft plastics into submerged brush and points, or deeper humps and points with Carolina rigs. Crappie are in 12-16 feet of water, 20-30 feet on timber and brush. Catfish are in 22 feet of water in the creek channels. White bass are in 26 feet of water off of points on jigging spoons. Report by Captain Lynn Atkinson, Reel Um N Guide Service. As the lake continues to drop fish are going to be moving to traditional summer locations pending the thermocline depth. Bass are good early morning on shallow main lake points with medium or deep diving crankbaits, and topwaters. Main lake ledges with Carolina rig shaky head and spoons. Brush piles shallower than the thermocline with Texas rigs, jigs or Carolina rigs. The thermocline is actively fluctuating and will continue to do so while lake level changes. Navigate with caution watching for floating debris, trees, and stumps. Report by Hank Harrison, Double H Precision Fishing.

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