Lake Livingston White Bass fishing is as hot as the July temperature. Structure oriented fish and schooling fish on the lake's southern end are keeping anglers busy bending rods.
It is no secret that White Bass are migratory fish. They move into northern creeks in the Spring to spawn and return to the main lake to spend the Summer.
In my home region of the lake (the northern part) White Bass fishing here every year during the Spring spawn draws the attentions of anglers with a fanatical reverence. When word gets out White Bass have moved into northern creeks to spawn, anglers swarm the creeks in a feverish anticipation of finding schools of White Bass and taking easy limits of the hard fighting fish. For many people this has become an annual ritual, not being satisfied until a boat load of spawning white are caught. When the ritual is finally accomplished, satisfied anglers often gloat about the great success of their Spring fishing until the next years Spring spawn.
Lake Livingston White Bass fishing does not end with the coming of Summer. IT MOVES!! By June, White Bass have migrated to the southern reaches of the lake and have set up Summer Camp. Here, the fish become structure oriented and feast on shad. Summer fishing for White Bass on "the main lake" is more predictable and is far easier to pattern fish than it was on feeder creeks during the Spring spawn.
Fishing for spawning White Bass can be hit or miss. Rarely is there an "ace in the hole". during dry Spring conditions the fish will spawn in the river channel. A wet Spring will draw fish far up the creeks. White Bass will migrate up and down creeks with fluctuating water levels and constant changing water quality. Volatile Spring weather can wash out a pattern just as it emerges. I have been "on fish" prior to a guided Spring spawn trip, when shockingly the day of the trip the fish have moved and clients casts are unrewarded. Moving up or down the creek a short distance depending upon the water levels will often get you back on the fish. This means spending time hunting fish instead of catching fish.
During Summer months on Lake Livingston the average angler can get on the White Bass and stay on fish as the fish are more predictable and easier to pattern than during the Spring spawn. White Bass now become structure oriented and can often be caught in the same area all day. At times the fish will move off of the structure to follow schools of shad and can be spotted by watching for feeding birds and churning water.
To catch structure oriented fish you need several pieces of helpful equipment. A map, a fish locator, marker buoys and a GPS would also be helpful. A good map of the lake such as the Hot Spot Map will show changes in contour and depth. Look for humps, cut banks, river bends and submerged road beds. Some fish finder maps now come with GPS coordinates for some of the best known fishing holes. Some well known places on Lake Livingston are the Old 190 Road Bed, 190 Flats, Walker Lake, Prayer Creek Area, The River Bend east of Pine Island and the Banana Hump. Use your fish finder to locate the structure and to look for fish. With more experience you will learn how fish relate to structure and the difference between bait and fish on your fish finder. Once fish are located, drop a buoy marker on the fish and then troll back to the marker and jig a slab or jigging spoon. Let your bait go all the way to the bottom then take up the slack, pick up your rod tip and let your bait fall again. Once you have found fish on structure, a GPS unit can record the coordinates and put you back on the same spot with less effort. Time spent on the water searching for fish is invaluable. Armed with a fish finder, a GPS and a marker buoy, you can run from hole to hole with little wasted time, therefore keeping you on the fish. Also, a good pair of binoculars will help you locate diving birds and schooling fish. When surface schooling fish are spotted, get to them fast but as you get close slow down and kill the big motor so you don't spook the fish. Approach the schooling fish from upwind so the wind will help blow your boat into the fish. If the fish go down, stay in the area a few minutes, it is likely that they will come up again.
Trolling with a jig behind a downrigger is another productive method for catching Summer Whites. This is a relaxing way to find fish and is very popular. When you get a hook up while trolling, throw a marker buoy out to keep your bearings and troll through the area again. It may pay off to go to the jigging spoon once fish are located this way. The wave action and noise of the boat will often spook the fish, therefore the jig will ultimately produce more fish.
Yes, White Bass move North and South from one end of Lake Livingston to the other. Summer patterns are more predictable than Spring patterns. Anglers that move as the fish move will catch White Bass Spring and Summer on Lake Livingston. www.palmettoguideservice.com
Dave Cox of Palmetto Guide Service is a regular contributor to the Lake Livingston edition of the Texas Sportsguide. This article has previously appeared in that publication.
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