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. 17)

GOOD. Water Stained; 81 degrees; 0.09 feet above pool. Bass are fairly slow in the mornings, but there is a shaky head bite with yum dingers in both sizes on timber in 5-7 feet on breaklines. Best bite is Carolina rigs offshore in 15-25 feet on humps, road beds, points, all are producing. Big worms like blue fleck, tequila sunrise and plum seem to be best 10-12 inches. Crankbaits are still good over channel catfish bends deep humps and road beds. Shad patterns and chart blue back XD 6 - XD 8 are best, Report by Marc Mitchell, Lake Fork Guide Service. Black bass are chasing topwater patterns early in the day and later in the day when it is dark. Check out the brush piles as big bass are using them to feed on crappie. Bream are excellent in the shallows on wooly buggers and small poppers. Report by Guide Alex Guthrie, Fly Fish Fork Guide Service. Lake Fork crappie fishing is in full time summer pattern. Huge numbers of black crappie are loading up at the base of trees, on main lake points and lay downs. There are still good numbers of white crappie on brush piles and in trees. Focus on areas in 14-22 feet for the most fish. The bite has been finicky when fishing for schools of fish. Minnows on very small gold Aberdeen hooks and 6-8 pound test fluorocarbon line has been the go to set up. Small hand tied jigs in natural colors are also working if you swim them over and get those fish to chase and grab. Even if you see a hundred fish in a group just catch the few more aggressive fish and move on if you want to catch numbers. Larger soft plastics should still work on bigger white crappies that are solo on timber. The catfish bite is still red hot. You can load the boat fast in roosting areas that have overnight birds in the trees. We are also seeing big numbers of catfish on main lake points in 14-28 feet around timber. If you find an area with lots of bait the catfish will be close by. Bait an area with cattle cubes or sour grain to group those fish up. Then use your pre

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