Four white bass fishing lures and when to use them

The White Bass (Morone chrysops), also known as the Sand Bass, is a true bass of the family Moronidae, and includes Striped Bass, Yellow Bass, and the sea basses. Contrary to popular belief, Largemouth, and Smallmouth Bass are not ‘basses’ at all, but members of the panfish family Micropterus, which also includes bluegills, all the freshwater sunfishes, and crappie.
Due to stocking programs, white bass are available just about everywhere in the continental U.S. as far south as northern Mexico, and north to southern Canada, and from California in the west, to the rivers of the eastern seaboard. The are originally indigenous to the Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee River drainage systems, in the more northern latitudes.
White bass are fond of deep, clear water, and travel in large schools in search of baitfish. They will be found in large lakes and rivers, usually off of sandy points and along channels and ledges. They like sandy or rocky bottoms. White bass spawn in March-May. Although an occasional small white bass may be caught on a worm, or insect, white bass are fish-eaters, and their favorite meal is shad. Where ever you find shad, white bass (and striped bass) will not be far away. They will also hit live minnows.
One of the most productive methods for catching white bass is ‘Jump-Fishing’. You will need a fast boat, and several rods rigged with appropriate lures. A pair of binoculars is handy as well. Cruise the open water and search for flocks of diving birds, like seagulls. When you see them, power over close to the spot (but not right on it, so as to spook the fish), and you will see the water frothing from schools of sand bass tearing up the unfortunate shad like pirahnas. The water will be literally boiling with fish. Cast your lure directly into the school and hang on. Strikes will be sudden and violent. It is not unusual to catch a fish on every cast. If you get hung up, just break it off and grab another rigged rod. Time is everything is this situation. After a few minutes, the school will move on, dropping back into the depths in search of another hapless school of shad to attack from below. Keep watching and they will come up again nearby. You can catch white bass until your arms get tired, using this method. The best times for this is in the morning and evening in spring, summer and fall, but in the south, they will continue this pattern all year.
Here are my top 4 lures for white bass:
The #1 lure for white bass is the Little Suzy. This is a heavy, jig-like lure with a spinner-blade behind the head, and a violent wiggling action on retrieve. It can be fished vertically as a jig, or fished deep or shallow with a straight retrieve. If you are serious about white bass, then you have to have a few of these, in shad and chartreuse colors, in your tackle-box. These are put out by the Heddon Lure Company. James Heddon, a beekeeper, began whittling lures from soft woods in the 1890s. It was a revolution, because before that, sport fishing was limited to live-bait, or fly-fishing. In 1902, he formed a company to distribute his lures (hand-made in his kitchen), and by 1910, he had a full factory, and distribution world-wide. By the 1950s, his company was producing over 12,000 lures daily. The Heddon family sold the business in 1955, and it has gone through many owners since then, Currently, it is owned by EBSCO, but they still market many of James’s original patterns such as the Chugger, Billy Bass, Devils Horse, Lucky 13, Crazy Crawler, Jitterbug, and other classics. After 100 years, James Heddon’s patterns are still the industry standard, and the most copied lures in the world. These lures make up the arsenal of many serious fisherman (including this one) to this very day.
#2-The Little George, also from Heddon. It is a minor variation of the Little Suzy. With a rounded head instead of a flat one. It wiggles a bit less violently than it’s sister. A few of these are good to have around, because sometimes, they work better. It just depends on what kind of mood the fish are in.
#3 all-time greatest white bass lure is the Sassy Shad from Mr. Twister. This is just a shad-shaped soft plastic lure with a swimming-action tail on it. The bodies are simply threaded on a suitable-sized jig-head, and they are ready to fish. The Sassy Shad comes in many sizes from 1-1/2 inch, all the way to 6 inches and larger. The best colors are Grey/White, and Chartreuse. These can be vertically jigged, stop-and-go retrieved, or simply cast out and retrieved straight. They be fished deep or shallow, and are somewhat weed-resistant, since the hook protrudes from the top of the body. They have the added advantage of being dirt-cheap to buy, and easily crafted at home for a nominal outlay on equipment, mainly molds, and plastic. You should have a box full of these in various sizes and colors.
And lastly, the #4 pick is the Puglisi-Shad fly pattern. Yes, you heard me right. Fly-Fishing is the ultimate way to catch white bass when they are in the feeding-frenzy mode on the surface. This pattern, which can be purchased from Enrico Puglisi’s website, or easily tied at home, looks and moves exactly like a live shad. Enrico Puglisi was a Sicilian chef with a passion for catching what he cooked. He married an American girl and re-located to the Long Island Area, still working as a chef, but exploring the fantastic fishing in the area. He learned how to fly fish, and thought that many of the current patterns were unrealistic. He developed his ultra-realistic patterns and began marketing them in the 1980s. It has revolutionized fly-fishing, and no one should be without some of these patterns. He has one to represent just about anything that swims, in fresh, or salt-water.

Honorable Mention goes to the Shap-Rap, and Big O.

Happy fishing.

Dan Eggertsen is a fellow bass fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on bass fishing since 2004.

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