THE RIVER OR THE CREEK

The only thing that is permanent is change. So goes the challenge of catching spawning White Bass on the upper Trinity River north of Lake Livingston. Constant changes of the ecosystem make catching spawning Whites an annual challenge. Over the last 18 years or so I have witnessed many changes in the White Bass fishing here. Droughts and flash floods have drastically changed many creeks. Constant silting in due to deposits from run off has lowered some creek levels to where they have become inaccessible by boat. Sandbars now appear where creek channels once flowed. Where fish were caught last year may not be the case this year. Anglers have to recognize changing conditions in order to be successful.

Last year was a dry year with little or no run off from local rains. With no rains to move water down the creeks, White Bass never moved into the creeks. The river channel was low and clear this time last year and was really just a big creek itself. The river channel is where the White Bass spawned last year. The river unloaded some of the best fishing for Whites I have ever seen. Limits of 12 - 15 inch 25 fish per person were common.

Time changes everything. This year, weather patterns are more typical. The river is flowing full and keeping local run off backing up into the creeks. When the creeks are holding water and are then hit with moving water, this is when you can expect great White Bass fishing in the creeks. This has been the case recently. White Rock, Harmon, Nelson, Bedias and other creeks have been loaded with spawning Whites.

Fishing the creeks this time of year can be hit or miss. Timing is crucial. Local rains can muddy a creek and wash out a pattern in a matter of hours. I once put a party on 75 White Bass one morning as the creek was swelling from a nights rain. My afternoon party was a washout.

Go up the creeks 24 to 48 hours after a rain and look for clearing water and shad. "Tea-colored" water can be the sign you are looking for. You can see the difference between tea, stained or muddy water as you go up the creek. Start fishing with chartreuse colored baits. As the water clears, use more natural shad pattern baits.

The White Bass fishery on Lake Livingston has had its ups and downs over the years. The last couple of years has seen some great fishing. Anglers that have changed with the conditions have been rewarded with outstanding catches. The creeks or the river, finding the fish is the challenge. Wet years will put the fish in the creeks. Dry years will put the fish in the river. The only thing that is permanent about White Bass fishing is change.

Recognizing the changes in weather patterns from year to year will help you catch more White Bass on Lake Livingston during the spawn whether it be in the river or the creeks. www.palmettoguideservice.com

Dave Cox of Palmetto Guide Service is a regular contributor to the Lake Livingston edition of the Texas Sportsguide.  This article has previously appeared in that publication.


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