By Coco Davenport and Debi Prather
The following information first appeared in the March 2003 issue of the TWFF newsletter.
On Saturday Feb. 1, 2003, Charlie Cypert presented a White Bass Seminar at the Orvis store in Austin. Charlie showed slides of his favorite white bass holes and some of the bass he has caught in previous years during white bass runs.
Every year in early spring, white bass, or sand bass as they are also known, leave the lakes and migrate upriver to find moving water in which to spawn. The exact timing of the annual white bass run depends upon the water temperature, but generally in Central Texas the main run lasts from March to mid-April. Charlie reported that as of early February, the bass were holding at about 10 to 12 feet. As air and water temperatures warm, the bass move progressively into shallower areas of the lakes and then up the rivers and into their tributaries. Often, the white bass are accompanied by stripers and hybrids, which can make for some very exciting fishing. The bass may travel as far as 40 miles upriver, or until they encounter a dam that stops their travel. The smaller ones (males) start the run while water temperatures are still in the 50s, and the females follow when water temperatures get into the 60s. The fish usually move through the shallows during the night and stack up in deep holes to rest and feed. After the spawn, in April–May, the fish will go back downriver to the lakes.
What to Use
Charlie suggests a using a 6 wt. sinking line for deeper holes, with #10–#12 hooks for white bass, but if stripers are present, you can go as big as #6–#4 hooks and 10-lb leader.
For smaller fish, 4–5x tippet and small flies in white and gray work best in very clear water; in muddy water use black or chartreuse. He recommends 4–6lbs fluorocarbon tippet for white bass.
The Cypert minnow is a favorite among white bass fishermen.
You can find the recipe to make this wonder fly by logging on to http://www.texasflyreport.com/forums/thread.aspx?id=93996 or just check out the Web site so you know just what to buy.
Another favorite is the Clouser minnow with beadchain eyes and marabou tails— but Charlie recommends that if the water is very clear, pull some of the hairs out of the fly to make it very sparse.
Gray and white seems to be a favorite for white bass. Most anything that looks like a minnow will work. Early on the season, Charlie uses a marabou minnow pattern, which will create a lot of action while just barely moving along the bottom. Use two or three short strips with lengthy pauses, and let the current impart most of the action.
As the water warms, white bass become more active and thus are more willing to take a faster-moving fly. When fish are active, Cypert switches to a sparsely tied streamer pattern, such as a skinny-water Clouser fished relatively fast. Also, toward the end of the run, once the fish have been up the river awhile, they will have eaten most of the larger minnows, so they switch from the larger forage to smaller minnows. That makes it necessary to drop down to a smaller streamer pattern towards the end of the migration.