Stalking the White Ghosts

Texas Rivers, Warm Water Fish

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A lot of things in fishing (just like life) are pretty concrete. If it’s cold, the trout will be biting on the Guadalupe, and if it’s warm the gar will be lurking just below the surface and the carp will be tilling the shallows with their Hoover mouths. This predictability is remarkedly comforting, mostly because it enables the angler to make educated guesses and feel good about himself (of herself) when a fly is cast at the appropriate time and the expected fish is brought to hand.

However, in between are the moments of uncertainty, those portals of chance that seem to open and close based on the slightest change in temperature or the most diminutive variation in water flows. It’s within these ever changing windows of opportunity that the white bass seem to move up and down the current, calling every shot on a minute by minute basis.

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If you’ve never fished for white bass, the most basic thing you need to know is that when a myriad of conditions are right, they move from deep water into feeder creeks and rivers in schools. The upside of this means that if you find one, you’ll probably find many, many more in that same spot. The obvious flip-side is that if you didn’t find one, you probably won’t find more. Because of this, half the battle with white bass is just knowing where they are, or at the very least, where they should be.

The unfortunate truth is that even if we were having normal water flows around here the best spots to find these bruisers would be guarded like they were national secrets. Add on top of that the fact that we’re currently in the worst drought on record and you’ll understand why the few spots that white bass are moving through are considered taboo to even talk about.

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Over the last week i’ve had opportunities to check out a few spots and have had the opportunity to see that there are more opportunities to catch these fish than people might realize. While some of these spots are so small and overcrowded that i’m keeping my lips sealed to honor the folks that have put int heir time on them, there is one that has consistently had so few anglers and so many fish that i feel safe spilling the beans. Turkey Bend is an LCRA park that due to low flows happens to be the spot where Lake Travis and the Colorado river meet has had a phenomenal amount of white bass moving through it in the last few weeks. The most exciting aspect of this particular spot is that due to low flows and shallow water, schools of white bass are easily spotted when the ambush prey close to the surface and form some fast moving wakes that look more like saltwater activity than freshwater. If you’ve never tossed a streamer ahead of a quickly darting v-shaped wake only to suddenly feel your fly get slammed by two pounds of fury, you’re in for a treat.

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Other than that all i can do is give you some information and let you figure it out:

  • White bass males move from reservoirs (Travis, Buchanan, L.B.J., Granger, etc.) into shallow tributaries to get their game plan together.
  • The females (larger than the males) follow the males a couple of weeks later.
  • The only fly you need is a Hill Country Clouser (above) in chartreuse, red or grey.
  • White bass love to school up in deeper holes of the river. Sinking lines are a must.
  • Look for the deeper “guts” in the river and fish those.
  • If you see surface activity, cast into it, especially if you are in bigger, more off color water.

If you need more information stop in one of our friendly local fly shops (Living Waters, Sportsman’s Finest, Orvis) and let them know your obsessed with the thought of double digit days and they can get you in the right gear and pointed in the right direction.

One final note, if you’re going to do it, do it now! There’s probably only one week, maybe two, of this left before they all head back to the deeper water of the reservoirs. Good luck!

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Alright, this is not an adventure yet, but in 24 hours it will have been one. For years i’ve tried in earnest to fish large pools of Pedernales State Park down from the falls for the massive fish located there, but have always been limited to the tree lined banks that produced little, if anything at all while massive splashes teased from opposite banks. The hike in is far to miserable for kayaks…but wait…i seem to recall buying a pack raft years ago for a specific trip in Colorado. That raft has been rediscovered, is now patched and ready to go in the bottom of my pack to ferry me down the deep waters of Pedernales State Park tomorrow, hopefully for many fish (gar, carp and bass) before pulling out at the youth camp, deflating the vessel and hiking back the two and a half miles to basecamp (the Element). Wish me luck, and wave from the shore if you happen to be there (which you should.)

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Running a blog takes an inordinate amount of time and energy, there is no doubt. So time-consuming in fact is it that fly fishing blogs, once as abundant as tricos, have quickly fallen like a spent hatch, victims of time, responsibility and sometimes simple exhaustion. After all, there’s not a lot of reasons to spend hours almost every night creating graphics, editing photos, and pouring over carefully chosen words other than the simple passion to create something (hopefully) new and unique.

Every once in a while though there is something that re-stokes the coals, causes a smile, and gives you the renewed energy to keep on going. Today that was a slightly thick, nondescript envelope all the way from France that was soaked in interesting, hand scrawled text. Inside was a stack of awesome stickers from the creative folks at www.rivière.com. I highly recommend checking out their site and if (like me) you don’t speak french, use Google translate to convert the site in to words you’ll understand (like this).

Obviously passion transcends cultures, borders and language, and for that i’m eternally grateful.

Merci amis! Très cool!

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The boys from Geobass are back for season two of epic bass fishing around the globe with the help of Costa. Episode one finds them armed with the culminated knowledge of their previous seasons exploits and heading into the amazon for peacock bass (though in classic Motiv style they still have stuff go wrong almost immediately). Check it out, feel the rush of new adventure, and get out there and make it happen for you, even if it’s just new local waters.

Note: The first 4 minutes and 20 seconds are a recap of season one, with the new season starting at 4:21. Strange, right?

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It’s easy as one, two, three.

  1. Go to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/diefische.
  2. Look for the contest post at the top of the page.
  3. Leave a comment on where you wish you could travel and take this duffel

The small print: One random winner will be selected from all of the comments on the contest post on our Facebook. To enter you only have to leave a comment, but if you decide to share the post that is awesome and we thank you! Contest entries accepted from 03/21 until 03/29, winner will be announced 03/30! The prize is a North Face medium duffel in red.

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There comes a time every year when the focus seems to shift. The cold water, along with its necessary boots and waders, lose what little appeal they ever had while wet wading and flip-flops take over their rightful place on the fly-fishing throne. The majestic trout, once the sole focus, are quickly relegated to “Plan B” while the first of the warm water fish, the jovial and curious white bass, take their place at the forefront of many anglers minds.

Un-packing my car in hopes of a break-in-less day while parked at The Slab near Kinglsand, TX, i actually found myself shaking in anticipation of “The Run”. Even in this day of instant information it’s still incredibly hard to know if the right combination of weather, flows, and sex drive have pushed the white bass up into the tributaries without actually going out there yourself and looking. So it was that i set out to discover for myself, anxious and bereft of my back up angling supplies, whether or not this was in fact the time of year to be chasing down these schooling wonders.

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Shortly after arriving and parking i was informed by a couple of fathers relaxing with beer and their brood, that indeed the white bass WERE down there. As a father and family man myself, i couldn’t help but notice that they were offering information in hopes of somehow becoming a part of that day’s fishing. I understand, after all, it is possible to love those closest to you and what time you have with them but still wish you were doing what you enjoy. Personally, as long as you find a balance, i don’t think that makes you a bad spouse or parent, just a person that has passions, is interesting and will hopefully be a healthier, happier spouse, parent and individual because of it.

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Eventually i did find the bass, along with all of their curious friends that would constantly chase their hooked comrade all the way up to my feet. The great thing about fishing for white bass is that when you find and hook one, you’re likely to find and hook many, many more. The flip-side is that due to nature and the cycle of things, all of these bass will be more or less identical in size, meaning that if you caught one, you’re going to catch a whole lot more like them. Of course this is by no means a bad thing, just a little odd when you’re used to fishing waters where your odds of landing a tiny sunfish are as good as landing a five-pound largemouth.

It’s common among fly fishers to mention that if you have a newbie, take them out for white bass. The amount of strikes they get is sure to hook them on fly-fishing. In this way white bass are kind of the gate way drug to bigger and harsher addictions (say…gar, carp, tarpon, bonefish, etc.). If you happen to be the conservative type of fisher, wait a few weeks and start scouting out the waters for the black bass. If however you are the type that can’t get enough tugs in one day and aren’t afraid to be sucked in and spit out whole by take after maddening take, the white bass are on…and waiting for you.

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