Fishing & Boating News

Neches River, Kickapoo Creek, Sabine River, Kickapoo Creek

by: Michael Banks, DDS, Friends of the Neches River

(Mar. 04, 2014 - Jacksonville,TX) Nature comes in cycles, usually annual. I have written about the sand (white) bass spawn on Kickapoo Creek and the Neches River in Paddling Strokes in the past, annually. You probably deleted those issues which is alright because when I put Paddling Strokes into a book you will have to buy it.

Well, the cycle of the annual white (sand) bass spawn is upon us. These white bass move from a body of water to its upper tributaries to lay eggs and to fertilize these eggs to propagate the species. The body of water in the case of Kickapoo Creek and the Neches River is Lake Palestine and the body of water for the Sabine River is Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Usually the males make the move first and then the females follow but every year there are variations. The whole spawning process takes several weeks. So what's the big fuss over this fish spawn? Well what you have is a high concentration of fish "stacked up" that are active, aggressive and a little hungry without an overabundant food source. So these fish are catchable in numbers and fun to catch.

When I put in yesterday on Kickapoo Creek there was a young man in a kayak and I ask him how he was doing. He said he had his two children with him and he needed one fish to make their limits. Since the daily bag limit of white bass in Texas is 25 fish over 10 inches long, he needed one fish to have a limit of 75 fish!

Also when I was putting in yesterday on Kickapoo the crew from Texas Parks and Wildlife was putting in led by Richard Ott, fisheries biologist. They were electro-shocking on the Kickapoo to collect egg-laden female white bass to be use in the hatchery and fertilized by striped bass to create a hybrid stripped bass called a sunshine bass.

Texas Parks and Wildlife is doing a fantastic job of enhancing the outdoors through fishing, hunting and parks for all Texans.

The number of fish removed from catching and eating or electro-shocking does not affect the annual average number of white bass produced in the annual spawn. There are enough white bass left in the breeding process to produce the number of offspring fingerlings that will survive that annual process. A couple of hours after the electro-shocking we caught fish in the same location.

On Friday, February 14, I kayak fished the Neches River above Lake Palestine. I had gotten a report of white bass being caught in February at the railroad bridge which is really Lake Palestine. I caught none. Some fishers at the Highway 31 bridge on the Neches had caught about 20 but it all happened at once when a pod of white bass came through going up the River.

On Tuesday, February 18, 2014, I kayak fished Kickapoo Creek for the afternoon and caught eight large female white Bass. This year the female fish are bigger than usual which could indicate a different age class of females making the spawn. The females this year are between 2-3 pounds and the males are normal at 1-2 pounds.

On Saturday, February 22, I flat bottom boat fished the Sabine River with Barry Bingham. We caught about 10 fish apiece. I say "about" because it is difficult to keep up with the numbers, so we say "about". If it is a politician giving the numbers - cut the number in half. For an honest, old fisherman like me, the number is pretty close.

The white bass on the Sabine River are a little larger (2-4 pounds) than those above Lake Palestine. We were able to beach the flat-bottom and walk the sand bars where we caught most of the fish.

On Monday, February 24, I kayak fished Kickapoo Creek with Kent Walker. We caught "about" 10 white bass apiece. I did catch three species of fish - fresh water drum, largemouth bass and white bass. We paddled further up the Kickapoo (2 1/2 miles) than I have gone before and caught fish all along the way.

For white bass I use combination of colors of white and chartreuse on a Road Runner jig and Shineee Hineee jig. I use ultra light spinning rigs or regular spinning and bait casting rigs. It doesn't seem to matter what you throw as I catch them on a variety of set-ups. What does matter is if the bass are "stacked up", turned on and you put the jig in front of them.

My read on this years white bass spawn is that it is a good one and will only get better within the next two weeks and then tapper off. I can't go for a few days but I sure will be thinking about it. If you haven't tried to fish this year's white bass spawn, you should - it's a blast!

Till we put in again,
Michael --
Dr. Banks on the bank of? Neches or Sabine River or Kickapoo Creek??
Photo by Michael Banks, DDS
One of Dr. Banks fishing fiends, Kent Walker
Photo by Michael Banks, DDS
Dr. Banks - heading Up the River or Creek, where he caught three species of fish - fresh water drum, largemouth bass and white bass.
Photo by Michael Banks, DDS
One of the nice fish landed on a day of fishing the East Texas creeks or rivers.
Photo by Michael Banks, DDS