How To Catch White Bass

This guide will teach you about white bass and explain how to catch them.

White bass are spread throughout most of the Midwestern United States.  They can also be found as far south as Florida and as far west as California.

They’re widespread throughout the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and their tributaries. They’re also common in the Great Lakes region.

Lures That Catch White Bass

White bass can be caught with many of the same lures that you would use for panfish, trout and small bass.


Small jigs can be great for catching white bass. Try a 1/8 ounce marabou jig. Popular colors are white, black and chartreuse.

Look for humps on a main lake. If you’re fishing a river, then look for any current breaks where white bass can form schools.

These are great spots for them to ambush passing baitfish.

If you ad a piece of scented bait or spray your jig with an attractant, you may increase your odds of getting bit.

Soft Plastics

Soft plastic lures are renowned for catching bass of all types. White

bass are no exception.

Try a small jig head with a plastic curly tail grub. You don’t need to have a bunch of colors. The basics like white, silver and chartreuse  should be enough to get started.

Another popular option is the tube bait. It’s basically a soft plastic tube with a skirt at the back.

But my favorite of all is a small jig with soft plastic swimbaits.

Try an 1/8 or 1/4 ounce jig with a soft swimbait like a Strike King Mr. Crappie Slab Slangers. These are economical lures that come in a wide variety of colors.

Inline Spinners

If you’re Looking to scan some water then small inline spinners are a great bet.

Try a mepp’s #1 spinner. Use a silver blade for clearer water and a gold blade for stained or muddy water.

Inline spinners are great for rivers too. Cast them up-current and then retrieve them back past current breaks.

Pass a spinner by a likely ambush spot a few times.  Don’t be surprised if your spinner gets hit by a smallmouth bass though.

Spinners can also be fished vertically. Let your spinner fall and the jerk it up with a sharp motion to get the blades spinning. You can definitely get bites while the spinner falls, so be ready.

Match The Hatch To Catch White Bass

White bass have a pretty typical diet. They prey on smaller fish such as minnows and shad. They will also eat small crustaceans and invertebrates.

White bass have also been known to feed on zooplankton and aquatic insects.

In the Midwest, schools of white bass can often be found following schools of shad.

This is a common pattern an a indicator that shad imitating lures would be a good choice.

Small jigs such as marabou feather jigs or finesse bass jigs could also be used.

White bass have a tendency to feed as a school. So where you find one feeding, you will most likely find more.

Tackle For Catching White Bass

Since you’ll be using light lures most of the time, spinning tackle is a good choice for white bass fishing.

I like to start off with a 6 to 6 foot 6 inch spinning rod. It should have a lure weight range of 1/16 to 1/4 ounce.

I match this up with a spinning reel that will hold at least 100 yards of 4 or 6 pound test line.

As for the line, monofilament is fine and usually less expensive than superlines like braid.

Another benefit of using straight monofilament is that you won’t need to tie on a clear leader for fishing clear water.

If you’re going to be fishing very deep water, you’ll want to use some heavier lures for vertical jigging

So, you may want to have at least one rod and reel setup that is equipped with heavier line. This will allow you to weight down your lures.

For accurate deep presentations, this can be essential.

White Bass Size

Adult white bass average at about  1 1/2 pounds. The length will be around 10 to 12 inches. There are however, much larger specimens.

The all tackle world record for white bass is a two way tie at 6 lbs. 13oz.

One was caught in 1989 in Virginia and the second was caught in 2010 in Louisiana.

Catching White Bass In Spring

The Spring is probably the best time for catching large numbers of white bass.

As the spawn begins white bass start moving up into rivers and creeks.

In early spring smaller males are the first to enter the spawning grounds.

They’re looking to feed and scout out the best spawning grounds. The females will come later.

These pre-spawn fish can make great targets as they tend to school and feed voraciously.

Look for water temps in the mid to high 50s. This should start bringing them in.

Keep in mind that they won’t all spawn at once. They will move in in waves. So you should be able to catch em for at least a couple of weeks.

If you can’t get out too often, try the time around the full moon if the water temps are right.

Catching White Bass In Summer

Catching white bass in the summertime can be all about finding what they’re feeding on.

In the early summer when the water temps haven’t gotten too hot, it will be easier to find them near the surface.

Schools of small shad can be the key here.  A good way to find schools feeding on shad is to look for birds hitting the surface.

As you approach you should be able to see the bass themselves hitting the shad.

Once you find them you can try throwing small topwater lures to catch them.

Of course they could be largemouth bass, but I don’t really get upset by that.  

A good sonar unit with side view will help you pinpoint the shad but it’s not essential.

As the summer progresses,  the water warms up. White bass will usually start heading down to deeper cooler water.

Look for points that drop down near main or secondary creek channels.

If you have a sonar and can find a deeper school of shad, you should be able to find bass nearby.

Try small spoons or spinners in a vertical jigging presentation. The soft plastic swimbaits I mention earlier can also be deadly here.

Drop your lures down by ledges and brush piles. These techniques should help you catch white bass all summer long.

Catching White Bass In Fall

The Fall can be a great time to catch some large White Bass.

White bass will be moving into deeper areas and start looking for forage. They’ll feed voraciously to get ready for winter.

So find the baitfish and you’ll find the bass.

A common tactic is to find points that stretch out and continue underwater.

Also, look for transition zones. A great example of this is areas that go from no rocks to having a rocky bottom.

To put it all together, look for a long point that continues underwater. It also has a rocky bottom. And stretches out towards a creek or main river channel.

If you can find a school of shad around, this will make it even better.

The wind can really help out. The wind and wave action can push baitfish schools towards the shoreline.  White bass will use this as an aid in corralling the baitfish.

Additionally, the wind and wave action will help mask your approach.

You can use soft plastic swimbaits like the ones we discussed earlier. Remember to try to match the hatch with color selection.

Catching White Bass In Winter

As winter  envelops the land many fish start heading for deeper waters.

White bass are no exception. This movement can make them very hard to find and catch.

In the winter, white bass can be found in waters as deep as 50 feet or even more.

As you can imagine, a good sonar unit will be very helpful in finding these fish.

Look for deep structure. Underwater humps that rise up from the deep can be a great place to start.

Another option is ledges that stair-step their way down. You can try each level and see if you can catch them.

Slow vertical jigging with soft plastics swimbaits or spoons is a good tactic to catch them.

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