The fishing grapevine is ripe with word that anglers are sacking up some fine catches of white bass from the White and War Eagle rivers.
The white bass spawning run up these tributaries of Beaver Lake can be a freezer-filling bonanza when the bite is on. There’s no size limit or daily limit on white bass. Anglers may catch all they want to clean, and they’re cleaning a mess of them.
Mike McBride at the Lake Sequoyah bait shop keeps a close ear on the white bass fishing at the Twin Bridges area of the White River at Goshen. This is white bass central, where Arkansas 45 crosses the river.
“The run has been real good. I went the other day and caught about 20 males and four or five females,” McBride said. Female white bass are usually the biggest.
“The day before yesterday, a guy caught a humongous white bass. It must have weighed 2 and a half pounds. It had a fat belly full of eggs.”
Fishing is good all up and down the White River, he said.
A favorite lure to catch them is the Lit’l Fishies by Creme lure company. “They absolutely devour those things,” McBride said.
Lit’l Fishies are a soft-plastic lure that looks like a minnow. Fish them on a one-quarter-ounce jig head, McBride advised. That gets the lure to the bottom where white bass dwell.
Kevin Eubanks, an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officer assigned to Washington County, said anglers have been tearing up the white bass with Lit’L Fishes for years.
“Those really work, but there are similar ones that will catch them, too,” Eubanks said.
The number of vehicles at the Arkansas 45 bridge access is an indicator of how good the fishing is. If the lot is packed, Eubanks said, it’s game on. Good white bass fishing usually lasts through the first days of May.
Chatting with fishermen on the War Eagle River this week revealed mixed reports. Two anglers in kayaks a mile downstream from War Eagle Mill said they’d been catching them.
Two others fly fishing from the bank said the fishing has been slow. They reported catching only male white bass so far, and not many of them.
Eubanks said he’s heard good reports from the War Eagle. Fish can only migrate as far upstream as War Eagle Mill, where they hit the mill dam.
McBride at Lake Sequoyah said spells of chilly weather this month, especially on weekends, haven’t delayed the white bass run. “It’s pretty much on schedule,” he confirmed.
Walleye spawn in the tributaries before white bass do. Walleye fishing is winding down, but anglers may still catch an occasional walleye while white bass fishing, McBride said.
White bass filets are great on a plate. Filet the fish as usual, but remove the shallow strip of red meat on the side of each filet. This has a strong taste most people don’t like. Red meat is also found on striped bass filets.
This red meat comes off easily by running a knife along the top of each filet, just under the red meat.
There’s more good news. The crappie should be going gangbusters in another 10 days to two weeks, McBride said.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports on 04/24/2018