A stream angler hefts a chunky white bass in what is a promising spring run.
The walleye runs in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers still have two
weeks or more to go, but already the early scouts of the next big
thing in spring fishing - white bass - are starting to show up.
The peak of the white bass runs sometimes includes decent action in the region's Portage and Huron rivers. It typically occurs about
mid-May or about a month later than the walleye peak, when water
temperatures average about 55 degrees. In any case expect more white bass with each passing week and expect to see some in the rivers well into June.
"Some of it is going to depend on the weather," said Larry Goedde,
fish management supervisor for Ohio Wildlife District 2 at Findlay.
"They could stay into June, especially with prolonged cool spells."
White bass are feisty, especially on light or ultralight spinning
tackle, and typically they are more eager to do battle than walleye.
For many veteran river anglers, the transition between the walleye
and white bass runs is the best of both worlds, for the younger
post-spawn male walleye, or jacks, typically are very active feeders
and present mixed action.
The forecast for the 2005 runs from the Ohio Division of Wildlife is
good, with most of the white bass running 8 to 13 inches from the
2001 and 2003 year-classes. Some larger Fish Ohio-size specimens from the 1999 year-class also will be in the run.
Overall, the 2003 year-class was very strong and will be running
upriver for the first time this spring. That suggests some fast
fishing. The white bass stocks from Lake Erie are up from a few years ago, "but they've still got room to expand," said Goedde. "They
really took a hit when the white perch came in."
White perch, a smaller Atlantic Coast relative of white bass that
entered the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway, exploded in Lake Erie in the 1980s and for a while it looked like their native cousins might be wiped out. Fortunately, that has not been the case.
Best fishing areas for white bass include some of the favored walleye haunts on the bigger streams:
Maumee River - From the Maumee-Perrysburg Bridge upstream to the end of Jerome Road, and below the Grand Rapids-Providence Dam.
Sandusky River - From the State Street Bridge in downtown Fremont to the Ballville Dam, with the stretch from the power line at Rodger Young Park to the dam open only after May 1.
Portage River - From just above Oak Harbor up to the entrance of Sugar Creek, just above State Rt. 590 bridge.
Huron River - From Mason Road to the Ohio Turnpike.
Be advised that special "walleye season" restrictions on some
stretches of the rivers against night-time fishing and use of treble
hooks, remain in place until May 1. For details consult the 2005-2006
Digest of Ohio Fishing Regulations, or visit the state Web site,
www.ohiodnr.com. Be sure not to cross private property to reach the
streams without getting permission.
White bass will attack a variety of baits, though slow-drifting a
minnow under a bobber likely is the most effective, along with
"tightlining" a minnow on the bottom.
The Carolina-rigged floating jighead so popular for walleye also is
effective for white bass. So are small spoons and small spinnerbaits, such as the Beet-L-Spin in white or yellow, dressed with plastic tails, or small jigs, 1/16 to 5/16-ounce, with plastic grubtails or minnows. If needed, use a small split-shot a foot or so up the line to keep the bait down in the current. After May 1 spinners with treble hooks, such as Rooster Tail, Panther Martin, and Mepps, also can be added to the tackle arsenal.
There is no daily creel limit on white bass, but conservation ethics
dictate that you keep no more than you will eat fresh. White bass
fillets generally do not freeze well.
In other fishing news, the jig-and-minnow walleye season on western Lake Erie is well under way, but strong east-northeast winds since mid-day Sunday through mid-week all but stopped the action and dirtied the waters. Expect action to resume in excellent form when the winds die and the lake settles and clears.
The walleye runs in the rivers still should have a lot of good
fishing ahead, including the aforementioned post-spawn jack run, but winds hampered fishing through mid-week. Hardy, persistent anglers, however, were taking fish on both the Maumee and Sandusky rivers, and stream flow and clarity on both remain good.
Last and not least, a personal note to the guides on the Cooley in
regard to last week's fishing discussion: You were right. I was
wrong. Now let's hope the wind drops so we can go fishing.
Contact Steve Pollick at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6068.