Fishing’s next wave: the white bass run

Tecumseh resident Bill Driscoll posted his first stringer full of white bass and walleye for the season on his Facebook page. Driscoll, an avid angler and outdoorsman, included the caption J.L.O.T.L., his personal catchphrase, “Just living off the land.”

Dave Bushner and son Maverick, 15, had good luck with whites at Tecumseh.

Local father and son anglers Kenny and Kent Hannaford, also had luck at Tecumseh, pictured below, each taking home a limit of fish Friday evening.

Turkey season is just around the corner, Ozark Countians have found a few morel mushrooms sprouting up from forest floors, and waves of warm days and nights have began to raise the water temperature in area lakes and rivers. The conditions are just right for one of Ozark County’s most exciting thrills:  the spring white bass run. 

Most days and evenings now, anglers are lining the bank at Tecumseh Park on Lake Norfork, as well as all the tributaries on Bull Shoals Lake, many pulling in their full limit of the fun-to-catch fish  before heading home. 

Gainesville resident Kenny Hannaford said that last Friday night he and his father Kent Hannaford each caught their limit, 15 fish a piece. The fish continued to bite after that, so they kept catching them and throwing them back. Kenny said the fish were hot from 6:30 to 11 p.m. that night, with fisherman catching whites and walleye. 

“One more cast turned into a hundred more,” Hannaford said. “Our fingers were shredded.”


What is the ‘white bass run’

Why the sudden flip of the switch to great fishing? It all has to do with the spawning patterns of the fish. 

Biologists know that the combination of water temperature, light intensity and water current all factor into the trigger of the instinctual process for the reproductive cycle of white bass, who swim up-current out of the lakes into the area rivers to spawn. 

Smaller male fish are the first to make their way toward tributaries, looking for a place to begin the spawning process. At this time, large schools of adult males are swimming together, allowing anglers to take advantage of the prolific numbers of fish in one area. 

Smaller males are then followed by larger female white bass, filled with roe, or eggs, to complete the reproductive cycle. The large schools of females, all congregating together, continue to provide great fishing conditions. 

The actual spawning process takes about five to 10 days and often occurs in the water’s stronger current. When both sexes of white bass are in a breeding ground, the female sends a message to males in the area, indicating she is ready to spawn by rising toward the surface of the water, releasing eggs into the water. Several males rush to her, releasing sperm around her to fertilize the eggs. The eggs drop to the bottom of the waterway, attaching to the gravel, sticks, rocks or other debris. The higher oxygen levels in the faster-moving water keep the eggs healthy. Eggs hatch in about two days. 

An adult white bass lays more than 500,000 eggs during the spawning process, and fish often return to the same breeding grounds year after year.  

The length of the run and fisherman success rates vary from year to year, depending on fluctuating water temperatures, depth and other conditions. Good fishing can be expected for anywhere between two to six weeks. 

Walleye and hybrids, a large fish that is a hybrid cross between white bass and striper, can usually also be caught during this time.


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Ozark County Times

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