Work can wait when angler has chance to snag white bass


Mar 11, 2001
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April 5, 2002

Charlie Farmer, Springfield News Leader

Work can wait when angler has chance to snag white bass

Despite cool temperatures late March and early April, there is good action at Stockton Lake, mainly in the tributaries of Turnback Creek, Little Sac River, Big Sac, Maze Creek, Sons Creek and Turkey Creek.

My son Scott and I put the boat in on the busy CC Greenfield ramp at 10 a.m. Saturday. We headed for the Sac River.

There are some thin water and submerged stickups on the lake before accessing the river. It’s best to take that stretch slowly in a boat.

Once on the river, it’s pretty much smooth sailing. The lake and river are above power pool, which is good for boating and fishing.

We passed several boats as we headed upstream. The anglers we talked with had not caught any fish.

They were fishing for white bass and walleyes. We had hoped there was a good early bite. But we weren’t surprised. It was cool and blustery on the water. A pale sun grudgingly moved in and out of the gray clouds.

Our one consolation was knowing this stream. We have fished it many times in March and April.

Our best fishing was always in the afternoon, especially if the sun was shining. We wanted to go as far as we could upstream. That’s where we usually find both whites and walleyes in early April.

The high water conditions enabled us to access the upper reaches of the Sac. From that time on, we saw no other boats.

Scott was casting a small, soft, white rubber swimming minnow combo with 1/32-ounce lead to get the lure down where the fish were holding. The depth of the stream where we fished varied from 6 to 7 feet. It would seem that we could actually see the white bass in the depth. But we couldn’t. The dingy water prevented that.

It was probably good that the water color hid us. Clear water streams often spook fish away from anglers.

It was 12:30 when Scott, who was running the trolling motor, locked into the first fish of the day. The hefty white bass bent his spinning rod nearly in two. I netted the fish and measured it at 15 inches.

The first fish of the day went into the livewell.

A few minutes later, Scott was into another hefty battler. That fish measured 14 inches. I was using a 1/32-ounce white marabou jig and on the verge of changing to the swimming minnow, when I felt a tic and set the hook hard. My first white bass of the season was a stout 15-incher.

I stayed with the white marabou jig the rest of the day. Scott was true to his swimming minnow.

We fished to 5:30 that evening. The livewell was brimming with 17 white bass between us.

Scott had the next three days off. I envied him.

I was confined to my office. The weather, however, was not ideal for white bass. There were cool, gray skies that usually put sulking whites down and without interest in feeding on anglers’ offerings. However this did not deter my 23-year old son.

He decided the morning fishing would be a bust due to the cold and overcast skies. Instead, he would use afternoon until dusk, to see if he could awaken the whites. As it turned out, his plan worked like a charm. He had most of the big Sac to himself. The afternoon skies were clear. The radiant sun shown bright and the fish were active.

He limited out on Monday and Tuesday with 15 female whites. On Tuesday it took him a little over an hour and a half for a limit — all caught on the soft, white rubber minnow. He called me on Tuesday night begging me to go with him Wednesday. And despite the work load, I gave in and never looked back, my reasoning being that April is the best month for white bass and I better enjoy it when I can. Work could wait.

We left Ozark at 11 a.m. on Wednesday with a bright sky and cool wind. We made it to the Sac and launched the boat. There was only one vehicle parked there. Once again we motored up the river. We never saw another angler.

Scott was hot that day even though the fish were finicky. The cool breeze no doubt had a bearing on the fish. There was enough sun. I finally admitted that the soft white minnow would be the best choice. As it turned out, Scott limited out by 4 that afternoon. I was content with nine whites in the 14-to-16-inch length.

We headed home happy.

As I write this today, Thursday, we will try our luck once again. It’s not the best-looking day for fishing.

We have invited our friend Curt to fish with us. We hope the whites cooperate because we are having a fish fry tonight.

As for work, I’m thinking it can wait a little bit more.

White bass are addictive — beautiful fish that keep us happy and healthy.

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