White bass provide a variety of angling opportunities on Rend Lake as they move from staging areas to the spawning areas of the lake.

White bass are a cousin of the saltwater striped bass and as such have much of the savage instinct of their brethren.  They will hit light tackle and give the angler all he can handle.

Anglers on Rend Lake sometimes confuse white bass with the hybrid stripers stocked into the lake.  What is an immature hybrid can be confused for a mature white bass.  It is important to the hybrid population that these immature hybrids return to the water, while the white can go home for dinner.

A 14‑inch white bass is a good size white bass, but it is small for a hybrid striper.  A 14‑ to 18‑inch hybrid stripers weighs 2 or 3 pounds.  If returned to the lake, they can grow in three or four years into 10‑pound fighters.

Hybrid stripers have two tooth patches at the back of their tongues.  White bass have only one.   The hybrids have distinct horizontal dark lines on the upper part of the body and the first stripe below the lateral line which is distinct and complete to the tail.  Stripes on the upper part of a white bass’ body are faint and the first stripe below the lateral line is indistinct and incomplete.

Following the warm rains of April, the white bass go on a feeding frenzy that will last into June.  These water tigers become more active as the water temperature rises above 50 degrees.  Once the temperature rises above 58 degrees, the fish move out of the staging areas and into the spawning areas.

The average size white bass taken by anglers tends to run in two classes.  One group is 8-10 inches in length.  The second is 12-14 inches.  Exceptions do occur.  The whites caught in IDNR surveys run from 0.7 to 1.5 pounds.

Catching white bass is easy, finding them is the tough part.  In the spring, the pre‑spawn fish position themselves on sand bars and gravel banks in fast water.  During the spawn, they make runs into the major feeder streams looking for suitable gravel beds.  After the spawn, they head down stream into creek channels or roam out into the main body of water.

White bass are an active fish that feeds constantly.  Whites prefer to spend their time in water deeper than 10 feet but will often move into the shallows to feed.  Their favorite meal is shad.  If the angler can find large schools of shad, chances are that the white bass are near.

When feeding on the surface, concentrations of seagulls will pinpoint the location for the angler.  If seagulls are not present, he can find them by spotting the splashing water caused by the feeding fish breaking the surface as they chase the shad.  At times the fish will stay up for ten to fifteen minutes.  More often they will feed for only a minute or two and then dive back down. Usually they will surface again a hundreds yards or so away.

White bass working points and flats are easier to find and fish.  One can troll to zero in on white when the surface action does not tip off their location.  One can begin trolling at the 5 or 6 foot level before testing the shallower or deeper areas.

One can run with moving baits like the Teeny‑R or Bomber crankbait.  Lighter line will get the bait down deeper while heavier line can make it run as much as a foot more shallow.

Anglers need to position their boat in the general area of the feeding and wait for the white bass to come to them.

In the more shallow areas, blade baits are good to use.  If the fish are on feeding binges, spoons heavier than one ounce work well because they get down to the fish quickly.  If the fish will not actively feed, then smaller, flashier spoons are better.  The 1/8 ounce Rat‑L‑Trap works well.  If the fishing is really slow, then something like a leadhead jig with a tube-bait is the ticket.  The shad imitations are best.

Light tackle is a must for these fish.  Small crankbaits, spinners and jigs are good with line in the four‑ to eight‑pound test range.  The lighter the line the more likely jigs wind up on submerged wood and vegetation.  Tip small tube jigs with a minnow or a plastic grub.  Plastics with contrasting dark and light colors work well.  White is best if picking a solid color plastic.

The astute angler will notice the size of the bait fish and match his lure to that size.

Angling success tends to be dependent on year hatches.  A year with incredible numbers can help carry the population over lean years.  The best fishing, in a particular body of water, is likely to be about two years after a large year hatch.

White bass fishing on Rend Lake is a ball.  For more information about bass fishing and guide service available contact Todd Gessner Outdoors at 618-513-0520.

Accommodations on the lake are available at the Rend Lake Resort in the Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area.  The phone number at the resort is 800‑633‑3341.

Camping is available in the park.  For information contact the site superintendent’s office at 618‑629‑2320.

For additional information about the lake in general, contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for its Rend Lake Fishing Guide.  The guide is free from IDNR, Office of Public Information, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, Illinois 62702-1271.

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