As a licensed professional fishing guide, Michael Acosta shows you how to find them. A Granbury resident of more than 35 years, he has been fishing all of his life, and has been a licensed guide since 1998.
It will soon be time for the spawning run that draws anglers out in numbers typically between February and April. In Texas many of these sand bass may start their trek in January depending on the weather.
These tasty fish can be caught in most every reservoir in the state, so you don’t have to travel far to find them. Lake Granbury, despite the floods the last couple of years, continues to produce numbers of sand bass.
Many of these fish will move up to or close to their spawning areas at the first cold snap in November, others will stay in the main lake. These fish may travel back to the main lake and back to the river several times before actually spawning. Eventually, however, the spawning ritual takes place in these same areas year after year. These fish like to congregate in numbers, making it relatively easy to sack up a limit.
Typically with the water temperatures around the low to middle 50s and if there is sufficient water flow, the sand bass will make their trek. As I mentioned earlier, this spawning evolution usually starts around the first part of February and may run through March and April. Sand bass and stripers require moving water to spawn. The males tend to move up first and then the larger females usually follow with rising temperatures.
The official name for the sand bass is “white bass,” but here in Texas “sand bass” is generally used by most. These fish are relatively easy to catch and are excellent table fare. You can catch them anytime of the year, but in the early spring/late winter they concentrate for the spawn on the upper portions of reservoirs or rivers, making them easier to locate.
Large majorities of sand bass on Lake Granbury migrate up the Brazos River to around the Tin Top area. Some sand bass don’t make it that far and spawn in other creeks, and some may spawn on windblown banks in the main reservoir.
On Lake Whitney, the best known areas in my opinion are on the Brazos River above Kimball Bend and on the Nolan River near the Highway 174 bridge (the Nolan runs into the Brazos River below Kimball Bend). Other tributaries may contain spawning fish as well. Tres Rios in Glen Rose is known as a spawning ground. Tres Rios is where the Paluxy, the Brazos and Squaw Creek merge.
Sand bass grow very fast in Texas waters and have a relatively short life span. These fish will reach 9-10 inches their first year and get to 12-13 inches their second year. These fish rarely live beyond five years. The legal size for sand bass has been standardized to 10 inches on all Texas lakes to make enforcement easier. Previously, some water bodies had a 12-inch limit.
Don’t confuse the sand bass with hybrid striped bass or striped bass. The easiest way to identify these fish is to look at their tooth patch. The sand bass will have only one, where the striped and hybrid striped bass will have two. Pick up a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department rulebook where fishing licenses are sold, and read the details. You don’t want to be caught with an illegal fish.
Sand bass can be caught on a variety of artificials and live bait. Small minnows/shad placed below a bobber or the use of a small 1/16th to 1/4-ounce jig head with rubber tails in chartreuse, white, and yellow can be used. Small roadrunner jigs are one of my favorites. Slabs and spoons can be effective as well. Try some Berkley power bait grubs on your jig heads.
Water temperatures are in the lower 50s. Sand bass reports are hit and miss, with some fish being caught on the upper ends. Look for fish to start staging shortly and if sufficient water flow exists, you may find them in the river. Striped bass are slow to fair on jigs worked on the lower ends. Black bass continue to be good to 5 pounds on soft plastics around laydowns on the upper ends on those warmer afternoons (above Hunter Park to Tin Top).
Catfish: Large blues and yellows continue to be good on cut bait on the upper ends. Best crappie reports are near deep structure and are best on small minnows/jigs.
On other reservoirs, the striped bass and crappie fishing on Lake Whitney has been excellent from white bluff to upriver near Kimball Bend. Possum Kingdom Lake striped bass are good to excellent to 12 pounds on jigs near Costello Island and upstream.
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