White bass run spawns action across Arkansas

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Each spring, anglers across The Natural State start getting the fever for some fishing action. Sure, die-hard anglers and veteran bass fishermen have been on the water fishing for big fish for the last month or so, and many crappie anglers never put the boat away in winter, but by and large, the best angling action of the year is just around the corner. If there’s a kickoff to “fishing season,” it’s the fast and furious angling action brought on by the annual migration of white bass from large lakes and rivers upstream to their spawning areas each spring. 

“The white bass spawn is fishing’s equivalent of the opening day of dove season,” said Chris Racey, deputy director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “You’ll start hearing people ask, ‘Are the white bass running yet?’ beginning in late February and early March every year.”

White bass typically start concentrating near the mouths of streams feeding lakes and rivers each year as the surface water temperature begins to reach 50 degrees. When the water warms to the mid-50s, the fish will move upstream as far as they are able and spawn on sand or gravel surfaces with flowing water that will aerate their eggs.

“White bass don’t tend and fan a nest like crappie, bream or largemouth bass,” Racey, who was a fisheries biologist for the AGFC for many years, said. “Instead, their eggs settle to the bottom and stick to rocks and gravel where the current keeps them aerated until they hatch.”

The fish actually don’t bite much when they are actively spawning, but feed heavily just before and afterward. 

“It’s more a matter of fish being concentrated in an area and being easier to locate that makes the white bass run such a big deal for many anglers,” Racey said. “And this is one of the few times of the year that these fish, which normally spend their time in deep water, will be available for bank anglers.”

Keeping things light is a must for walk-in angling, and Racey has narrowed down his arsenal to some specific lures for people to carry in their pack. 

“I have three baits in my white bass tackle box,” Racey said. “My go-to is a white 2-inch curly shad Bass Assassin grub on a 1/16-oz. jighead. Then I’ll bring a ⅛- or ¼-oz. White spinner with a silver blade and a small, blue over orange belly Rapala suspending jerk bait. You can throw all of them on light spinning tackle.”

Here’s a list of some of the most popular places to try your hand at fishing for white bass this spring, according to the biologists who work and fish on these waters: Magical Millwood, Beaver Lake, Lake Conway, Greers Ferry Lake and Lake Maumelle.

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