Article by Russell Husted
Editor’s Note: Today, I’d like to republish an article from the Summer 2016 issue of Tenkara Angler by Russell Husted, featuring a primer on pursuing white bass with tenkara tackle. With thoughts this week turned to the flooding in Texas, I’m hoping if you enjoy this content, rather than a “like,” “share,” or “re-tweet” of this post, that you visit the American Red Cross website. If you’ve already given support in some form, be it physical, financial, large, or small, THANK YOU!
April showers bring May’s flowers. In Texas, April showers also bring white bass, or as we call sand bass. With the hopeful spring rains, the creeks and rivers get swollen from the fresh runoff, which warms the lakes and triggers ideal spawning conditions for white bass. The bass sense the changes in the water and group up to begin their annual run into the creeks and rivers. They come by the thousands, and can be found in large numbers during these conditions. If you find a large pod of white bass, and use the right technique, catches of over 100 bass a day are very common. And can be done easily if conditions are right.
For as long as I can remember, we would target white bass with a 3 to 5 weight rod, and use small Clousers, or minnow imitations to catch white bass. This technique has always been the combination that works best. Over the years, we discovered that the smaller the fly, or even the sparser fly, they would work so much better. So we started tying smaller flies using less materials.
Then we discovered a pattern that was made famous by the late Andy Moreau. Andy tied simple, small jig flies that white bass could not resist. The flies were just strands of floss tied on a very small jig hook. They only took about 1 minute to tie one up, and we called them fast and ugly flies!!! But boy did they work. The experiment continues.
Then I found some jig head hooks my friend David Crawford made. These jigs were tiny. 1/125th of an ounce. We made some Andy Moreau jig flies with these new hooks, and it totally changed the way we fished for white bass. The jigs were so light, they would never sink to the bottom of the creek or river if there was current. So when your line slightly moved when drifting these flies in the river, you knew you had a strike. Another thing we found out was that these small jig flies were actually indestructible, and would last all day, while catching as many white bass as you could handle.
Then I was introduced to Tenkara. Fascinated by this new technique, I quickly used an Ito in Colorado for trout fishing. It was awesome, and I immediately fell in love with how easy it was to control a drift using a high stick technique. After a very successful trout trip, we return home and I started creek fishing for sunfish, perch, gills, or anything that would hit a fly in my favorite summer creeks. The seasons change, and the Ito gets stored away till spring. Then it hits me.
Why not use a Tenkara rod for white bass?
So the story unfolds. The Tenkara USA Ito is loaded up with a handful if micro jigs, and it’s off to the favorite spring time river for white bass. I locate a large pod of sandies, so we call them, and it’s not long to see if the experiment works. A simple cast, and let the small micro jig swing downstream, and I feel a hard take. I swing the Ito downstream, and the micro jig is set into a very nice sandie. The sandie made some several hard runs, and it felt so good on the Ito.
A quick release, and I am back at it. The next cast, another nice sandie. As I mentioned earlier, if you find a pod, and conditions are right, numbers can be had rather quickly, and today that was the case. In the next hour, an additional twenty something sandies fall prey to the micro jig on the Ito rod. The story ends with a new, successful arsenal for my favorite style of fishing.
Many more trips were had this spring, with similar results. But as the world turns and the seasons change, I am back to creek fishing for gills and perch, and soon to Colorado for trout.
Tenkara is definitely a year round way of fishing.
Russell Husted is an avid fly fisher who spends most of his time on Texas rivers, from North to Central Texas and on into the Hill Country. He has recently discovered the joys of fishing urban waters near his home in Arlington, as well as Fort Worth. He really enjoys catching river bass in the city limits as it is a true testament to the conservation efforts of so many to make this fishery happen.
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