White Bass 0001

Watching the line cut through the water from one side to the other is an exhilaration experience.  The slashing runs of a white bass on the end of a fishing line stirs the heart strings of even the most jaded angler.

Anglers find large numbers of white bass each year during the month of June.  The bass are in a full feeding frenzy as they chase shad around just above any area with a rock, sand or gravel bottom.  The average size of these terrors of the minnow population is about 3/4-pound.  However some reach 2-pounds and the giants will go 3-pounds.

Often referred to as silver bass, streaker, striper or striped bass, the white bass is a silvery, spiny-rayed fish with dark horizontal streaks on the sides.

White bass inhabit the entire length of the Illinois River from its origins at the confluence of the Kankakee and Des Plaines Rivers, near Chicago, to where it flows into the Mississippi at Grafton, Illinois.  The most popular stretch is that between Utica and Spring Valley.

Whites are schooling fish that hunt in large numbers and cover a great deal of territory.  Dining mostly on small fish, they also eat small crustaceans and insects.  The schools move about directed by the food supply.  Their large formations herd smaller fish before driving them into areas where the prey cannot escape.

They feed most actively in the early morning and late evening.

Fishing for white bass is a simple process during their early run.  A medium to ultralight rod with 6 to 8-ound test line seems to be just the ticket.  Most popular way to catch these fish is with leadhead jigs with small colored twister tails tipped with a shiner or fathead minnow.  Cast the rig into swift water and allowed it to reach the bottom.  It bounces long the bottom in a series of short hops.

A jig in the 1/16th to 1/8th ounce size seems to be just about right.  If one uses one much heavier they tend to snag on the bottom.  The ideal jig is one that will reach the bottom and then slowly bounce downstream with the current.  The pattern works best in areas with a sand or gravel bottom.  In the rocky areas you must exert more care to keep the number of break-offs to a minimum.

Another pattern is the use of a floating jig.  There are a number of them on the market.  The jig has the regular shape of the standard jig head or small round floats.  Because they float, the jig will stay off the bottom and out of snags in the structure.

Rigged with a Lindy rig or a Wolf River rig, the jig and bait stays just off the bottom.  This way it stays out of the snags and remains visible to hungry white bass.

White bass fishing on the Illinois is tops.  They are fun fish and a great way to introduce a novice to the sport.



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  1. The last few years white bass numbers in the Illinois seem to have fallen big time. Are Asian carp numbers and the lack of shad to blame?

    • I do not know for sure but that is a possibility. Another is the heavy fishing pressure these fish receive. I will do some snooping around to see what I can find out.

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