How to Catch White Bass – Ultimate Angler’s Guide

Fisherman trying to catch white bass
Ernest Grey

I love to test new fishing gadgets and share my opinion.

White bass, renowned for their vigorous fights and delectable flavor, stand as a prized target for anglers across various skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a novice angler, mastering the art of catching white bass proves both rewarding and exhilarating. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the techniques, gear, and strategies essential to enhancing your prospects of successfully landing these spirited fighters. 

So, if you are prepared to embark on a white bass fishing expedition, continue reading to arm yourself with the knowledge required to achieve success on your next aquatic journey.

Understanding White Bass

White bass, scientifically known as Morone chrysops, are native to North America and are a popular catch among anglers. To improve your chances of catching them successfully, it’s essential to understand their habitat, behavior, preferred water temperature, and feeding patterns.


White bass are primarily found in freshwater lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. They are known for their schooling behavior, often congregating in large groups. These schools can be found near structures like rocks, bridges, and submerged trees. Understanding their tendency to school can help you locate them more effectively.

Water Temperature

White bass are temperature-sensitive. They thrive in water temperatures ranging from 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C). During the spring, when water temperatures reach this range, they become more active and move closer to the shore for spawning.

Feeding Patterns

White bass are opportunistic feeders, preying on various aquatic creatures like minnows, shad, and insects. They are most active during low-light conditions, such as dawn and dusk, when they actively hunt for prey. Understanding their feeding habits can help you choose the right lures and fishing times for a successful catch.

Essential Tackle

When it comes to white bass fishing, having the right gear is paramount. Using the appropriate equipment can significantly impact your success on the water. 

Choosing the right lures can make or break your white bass fishing excursion. In this section, we’ll delve into the best white bass lure types that have proven to be highly effective when pursuing white bass, highlighting their particular strengths and why they’re favored by seasoned anglers. 


Jigs are a go-to choice for white bass enthusiasts. Their versatility in both shallow and deep waters, along with their ability to mimic the erratic movements of prey fish, makes them highly effective. Opt for jigs in various sizes and colors to match the conditions and the preferences of white bass. 


Crankbaits are renowned for their ability to cover a lot of water quickly. They come in various shapes, sizes, and diving depths, allowing you to adapt to different fishing environments. The realistic swimming action of crankbaits can trigger aggressive strikes from white bass. 

Soft Plastics

Soft plastic baits, such as grubs and swimbaits, excel at imitating the movements of injured or fleeing prey. Their lifelike action and variety of colors make them a favorite among anglers targeting white bass. Experiment with different soft plastic options to determine which ones are most effective in your local waters. 


Spoon lures, with their flashy, metallic design, can attract the attention of white bass from a distance. Their wobbling action and shimmering appearance mimic small fish, making them a reliable choice for enticing these voracious predators. We like to use these lures for white bass night fishing.


Spinnerbaits are known for their ability to create vibrations and flashes that trigger strikes. They work well in various water conditions and are particularly effective when white bass are actively feeding near the surface. 

Each of these lure types has its unique advantages, and successful white bass anglers often have a selection of these lures in their tackle boxes to adapt to changing conditions and preferences of the fish.

Live bait can be a game-changer when targeting white bass. In this section, we’ll explore the types of live bait that have proven highly effective for luring in white bass, and we’ll highlight why these choices are favored by experienced anglers. 


Minnows, particularly shiners and fatheads, are a top choice among live baits for white bass. Their natural swimming action and shiny scales mimic the appearance of small fish, making them irresistible to white bass. Hooking a lively minnow can result in aggressive strikes from these voracious predators. 


Nightcrawlers, or earthworms, are readily available and highly effective bait for white bass. Their natural scent and wriggling motion in the water can entice white bass to strike. Nightcrawlers work well in various fishing environments and are especially effective when presented on a simple hook and line. 


Crayfish, also known as crawdads, are a natural prey item for white bass. Their slow, bottom-hugging movements can attract white bass in search of an easy meal. Using a small hook and allowing the crayfish to move naturally in the water is a proven tactic. 

Threadfin Shad

In areas where threadfin shad are abundant, they can be exceptional live bait for white bass. Their silvery scales and erratic swimming pattern make them a prime target for white bass.

Hook a lively threadfin shad, and you may find yourself in the midst of a feeding frenzy. Do white bass bite in the rain? These live baits have a track record of success, but the effectiveness of each can vary depending on factors like water temperature, time of day, and the preferences of white bass in your specific fishing location. It’s often a good practice to have a variety of live bait options on hand to adapt to changing conditions and maximize your chances of a successful catch.

How to Handle White Bass

Properly handling white bass is essential not only for your own safety but also for the well-being of these fish populations. In this section, we’ll provide guidance on how to handle white bass from hooking and reeling to landing, with a strong emphasis on the importance of catch and release practices to support the conservation of these valuable fish. 

Hooking and Reeling

When you feel a bite, resist the urge to set the hook immediately. Allow the white bass to take the bait and start moving away with it. Then, smoothly set the hook with a gentle upward motion of your rod. Avoid aggressive hooksets, which can result in lost fish or damaged mouths. 

Landing White Bass

Once hooked, play the white bass carefully. These fish are known for their fighting spirit, so be prepared for their energetic resistance. Use a quality landing net with soft mesh to minimize stress and injury to the fish. Gently cradle the white bass in the net while keeping it in the water as much as possible. 

Catch and Release

White bass are a valuable species to both anglers and ecosystems. To help conserve their populations, consider practicing catch and release. If you decide to release a white bass, handle it with wet hands to protect its delicate slime coat. Hold the fish gently in an upright position in the water, allowing it to regain strength before swimming away. 

Ethical Angling Practices

Responsible angling extends beyond catch and release. Be mindful of local fishing regulations, including size limits and bag limits, to ensure the sustainable management of white bass populations. Dispose of any trash or fishing line properly to protect the environment.

White Bass Fishing Techniques

#1 Casting and Retrieving

Casting and retrieving is a fundamental white bass fishing technique. To maximize your success, it’s crucial to understand how to select the right lures or baits, execute proper casting techniques, and adjust your retrieve to match the preferences of white bass. 

Casting Techniques

Proper casting techniques are vital for accurate and effective presentations: Overhead cast: Master the basic overhead cast for general casting situations. Sidearm cast: Use the sidearm cast when casting under low-hanging branches or structures. Pitching and flipping: Employ pitching and flipping techniques for precise placement in tight spots. Roll cast: Learn the roll cast for presenting lures or bait without a backcast.

Varying Retrieve Speed and Style

 White bass preferences can change, so adapt your retrieve: Steady retrieve: Use a consistent, medium-speed retrieve for standard presentations. Stop-and-go: Pause briefly during the retrieve to mimic the erratic movements of prey fish. Jerk and twitch: Incorporate occasional jerks or twitches to add enticing actions to your lures. Fast and slow: Experiment with varying retrieve speeds to determine what triggers strikes.

#2 Vertical Jigging

Vertical jigging is a potent method for targeting white bass at specific depths. To excel in this technique, it’s crucial to have the right gear, know how to locate white bass on your sonar or fishfinder, and understand the step-by-step process of vertical jigging.

To start, you’ll need specific equipment. Jigs are at the core of vertical jigging, and it’s wise to carry a variety of sizes and colors to match the conditions and preferences of white bass. Invest in a reliable sonar or fishfinder that can effectively locate white bass and determine their depth. Your rod choice is important, with a medium to medium-heavy spinning or baitcasting rod being suitable. Pair this with a reel that features a smooth drag system and a high gear ratio. Finally, select your fishing line, typically in the 6-12 lb test range, keeping in mind the strength and visibility needed for the conditions. 

When it comes to spotting white bass on your sonar or fishfinder, follow these steps: Start by adjusting the settings on your sonar or fishfinder to display a clear image of the water column and any fish present. Look for schools of baitfish, as white bass often accompany them. Pay attention to the depth at which baitfish and white bass appear on the screen. Fish arches on the display indicate the presence of white bass. Focus your search around underwater structures and thermoclines, as white bass tend to be drawn to these areas. 

Executing vertical jigging effectively involves specific steps. Begin by positioning your boat directly above the marked fish using anchoring or a trolling motor. Select an appropriate jig that matches the size and color of the forage species white bass are targeting. Lower your jig to the desired depth where white bass are located. Use a rhythmic jigging motion, lifting the rod tip upward and allowing it to fall. Experiment with the speed and depth of your jigging motion to trigger strikes. Keep an eye out for strikes during the fall, as white bass often attack when the jig is descending. With the right gear and an understanding of sonar, vertical jigging can be a highly productive technique for enticing white bass to strike.

#3 Bottom Bouncing

Bottom bouncing is an effective technique for enticing white bass when they are close to the lake or riverbed. To master this technique, you need to understand the appropriate baits or lures, maintain contact with the bottom without snagging, and be adept at detecting strikes. 

In terms of baits or lures, consider those that work well near the bottom. Soft plastic baits, such as grubs or worms, often mimic natural prey that white bass target. Jigs with a weighted head can also be effective for reaching the desired depth. Experiment with different colors and sizes to match the local forage species and conditions. 

Maintaining contact with the bottom is essential for success in bottom bouncing. To achieve this, select an appropriate weight for your setup. Heavier weights help you keep your bait or lure close to the bottom, where white bass may be lurking. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance between weight and avoiding snagging on underwater obstacles. Feel the bottom with your rod tip by maintaining a taut line, and adjust your weight accordingly to keep your bait or lure just above potential snags. 

Detecting strikes while bottom bouncing requires attentiveness. White bass often strike with a subtle tap or a slight change in tension on your line. Stay focused on your rod tip and be ready to react quickly to any unusual movement. Sometimes, a white bass may pick up your bait and swim towards you, causing a slack line. Train yourself to recognize these subtle signals and respond promptly with a hookset. 

Mastering the art of bottom bouncing takes practice and a keen understanding of your local fishing environment. By selecting the right baits or lures, maintaining contact with the bottom without snagging, and honing your strike detection skills, you can increase your effectiveness when targeting white bass in this manner.

Key Takeaways

Covering essential techniques for catching white bass, this guide offers valuable insights. It discusses gear selection, choosing lures and baits, and employing specialized techniques like casting and retrieving, trolling, vertical jigging, and bottom bouncing. It also explains how to use sonar or fishfinders to locate white bass and provides tips for detecting strikes effectively. 

Emphasizing responsible angling practices, including catch and release, and the importance of adhering to local fishing regulations and ethical chumming, this guide equips anglers with the knowledge to improve their success in pursuing white bass. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or new to the sport, these techniques can enhance your skills and results on the water.