During late winter, white bass begin migrating up-lake to the river sections of impoundments and into feeder creeks. They’re traveling toward shallow, moving water to spawn. It’s Mother Nature’s way of replenishing a species, but this predictable movement also makes for some of the most exciting and anticipated fishing of the year.

White bass are like Forrest Gump. They take relentless verbal abuse from anglers all year long, until they finally run. That’s when white bass shed their bullies and become one of the most sought-after gamefish. (Life is like a school of white bass…”) Preferred spawning areas are clean gravel and rocks with good current flow. It’s not known if adult whites return to the same spawning spot each year, but the most productive areas are the same year-after-year.

In highland reservoirs like Bull Shoals, Table Rock Lake and Beaver Lake, white bass start the reproduction process in March depending on water temperature. When the water temperature hits 52 degrees in the main lake, you can bet the white bass are running up tributaries to spawn.

Male white bass initiate the process by moving up to suitable spawning areas. About two weeks later female white bass follow, staging in pools or nearby deepwater areas waiting for the appropriate time to move upstream and spawn.

Female white bass will move to areas with windblown current or river current and release their eggs and the males fertilize them. Fertilized eggs adhere to gravel substrate to mature.

The first deep pool and succeeding pools away from spawning areas and down current are productive areas to fish. These deep pools will hold schools of white bass staging to spawn and returning to deep water to recover and feed after the spawning process.

Anglers catch white bass on a variety of techniques during the run, depending mostly on where they are fishing. Large reservoirs may have little if any current especially near the low end. On the other hand, rivers and tributaries will have current that will influence where white bass spawn and feed.

One of the deadliest techniques for catching staging white bass is spooning. Deep pools in reservoirs or rivers allow anglers to position over the top of hungry schools of white bass and drop spoons vertically into them. Anglers simply lift and drop the spoon allowing it to flutter downward. White bass will almost always strike the spoon as it flutters downward.

Spoon size and weight is often dependent on water depth. For water deeper than 15 feet, a heavy ¾-ounce spoon gets down to the fish quickly. In shallower water a lighter ½-ounce Bomber Slab Spoon is a good choice. Any spoon color works as long as it’s chrome, white or gold.

White bass in general will only be in deep water during the early and late stages of the spawn, and the majority of fishing is done in 8-feet-or-less of water. A prime lure for catching spawning whites is a shallow-running crankbait.

Crankin’ shallow crankbaits in pools, shoals and points can put big numbers of whites in the boat. Any area with moving water will hold white bass. Boulders, shoals, logs or anything that breaks the current or creates an ambush spot is a potential holding spot.

When fishing skinny water like you find in rivers and tributaries, a shallow running XCalibur Xcs 100 crankbait that rarely gets snagged is a good choice. Its wide bill protects the hooks while deflecting off rocks and logs and creates an erratic action white bass can’t refuse. Four proven white bass catching color patterns are Foxy Shad, Foxy Phantom, Tennessee Shad and Black Shad.

Crawfish-imitating lures are productive in both rivers and reservoirs for catching white bass. Rebel’s Deep Teeny Wee Crawfish is perfect for shallow rivers or tributaries. It dives 4- to 5-feet deep when retrieved, deep enough to get down into the strike zone but not deep enough to get hung up on rocks and wood. If the white bass are staging in a deeper pool or if the water is stained, go to a larger size that runs a little deeper.

In large reservoirs, white bass will often use long, extended shallow points and flats with a gravely substrate to spawn. It doesn’t happen on every point or flat, though. The point or flat has to be exposed to warm southern winds for a couple days to create a current that triggers white bass to move up and spawn. Since these points and flats are shallow it takes a special lure to fish them. Rattle baits really excel in this situation because they feature loud rattles and a tight wiggle.  Make long casts and hold the rod tip at 12 or 1 o’clock while reeling quickly. Popular color patterns imitate shad and crawfish.

Often overlooked but extremely effective for catching white bass are simple curly-tail grubs. Maybe it’s because grubs lack the flashy appearance of other lures, but they seem to produce well even when other lures aren’t getting a second look.

This year anglers are discovering another way to fish grubs, and it’s out-fishing every other technique. Instead of fishing a single grub, anglers are throwing five at once by putting them on a YUMbrella or smaller castable umbrella rig. Steven Matt, a public relations pro for G3 Boats, learned last spring about the YUMbrella-and-grub rig for whites.

“I caught 10-to-1 over my brother who was fishing a single grub,” he said. “And, it was tough fishing. I don’t think I saw another boat catch a thing all morning.”

Grubs on castable umbrella rigs mimic a school of baitfish and anglers can expect to catch doubles and even triples. When one strikes, there are often several more white bass nearby, and those fish come in and take another grub dangling near the hooked fish. One of the most effective this spring is the Flash Mob Jr., which features four willowleaf blades to create more baitfish flash. The lighter weight also means that anglers don’t tire from casting it (although they do from battling big white bass all day).

Another option for smaller castable umbrella rigs is a 4-inch swimbait. If you're fishing an area known for producing big white bass or if small fish are making up the majority of your catch and you want to upgrade to larger specimens, a bigger swimbait can weed out those smaller fish. As with curly tail grubs, go with a white or pearl color, something that imitates the look and profile of a baitfish.

The white bass run is much-anticipated by anglers across the country. They are hard fighters and good table fare. Plus, you can find them in the same spots year-after-year. Life may not be a box of chocolates, but with the white bass run, you know exactly what you’re gonna get – a great day of catching really hard-fighting fish.