Striped, hybrid striped bass both make good eatin’

Several of the lakes in our state of Texas have been introduced to both striped and hybrid striped bass. These fish do grow to large sizes and offer some really good action for anglers. Lake Livingston and Toledo Bend are great places for taking both species. Sam Rayburn has some hybrids remaining, but none have been introduced since a malfunction at the hatchery. Hybrids are not usually able to reproduce and are available through put-and-take efforts. According to Ronald G. Habron of Southern Region Aquaculture Center, striper can actually spawn.

One of the things that anglers must learn is to identify each of these species, since their appearance is very similar. A hybrids is very similar in appearance to a striper to the untrained eye because one of its spawners was a striper and the other a white bass. Although fully striped, a hybrid will have some broken lines. The striped bass will have all of its lines straight. So far, I have not been able to acquire any information about hybrid reproduction in our lakes as of today.

It seems that all of the species of striped freshwater fish travel upstream to spawn. Whenever there are water currents created by the generation of electricity at the dams, the hybrid and stripers move upstream. This is how they spawn. Their eggs must be able to float and drift for several miles in order to hatch. As the water warms, these fish will congregate downstream near the generators to feed upon the baitfish that is also thereabouts. That’s especially the case on Lake Livingston and Toledo Bend.

Hybrids tend to travel in schools, but they will also travel around with schools of other fish such as white bass. Both species feed upon small fish, and both of these lakes are loaded with shad. The stripers also feed on small fish until they grow up. Then they prefer larger fish. Larger shad and bluegills will tempt some larger striped bass. All sizes of stripers will also eat crawfish.

Whenever you’re going after any of the striped sided fish, think deep water. They will remain in deeper water where there is plenty of oxygen and suitable water temperature. Whenever the baitfish appear, the predators will go after them with vigor That’s when it is likely to see some surface activity. The lakes with submerged hills and humps near deeper water are likely to be ideal places to ambush these fish. Locate heavy schools of shad beneath the surface, and the predators will soon be around.

Most anglers prefer to go after these striped fish with artificials. Jigs, trolling lures, slabs, lipless crank baits, spoons, and diving crank baits are popular choices. There seems to be something about the color green that attracts especially the larger stripers. Practically anything that resembles a food fish will work most times. There are times, however, when you can see the big stripers on your depth finder, put a lure in their midst but never get a bite.

Live bait for the striped bass is always a prime choice. I’ve found that hand-size bluegills are more irresistible than any other live bait that I’ve used. Small carp and large crawfish are also acceptable when the bream are not available. A good method for using the live bait is much like strolling for crappie. Just drop the bait or even a big feather jig down to where you mark fish and ease around with an electric motor.

Both casting to the schools and trolling where the stripers are feeding will get good results.

The white bass will normally show up feeding on the surface in large schools. Hybrids will be with them at times, as will smaller striped bass. Lake Livingston in our area is a popular white bass and hybrid striped bass fishing lake right now. These fish may cover a couple acres when chasing shad and are visible for a long distance. Seagulls will also show you where the action is. If there is little or no surface activity, then try trolling for them. A diving trolling lure such as a mudbug with the treble hooks removed and a small pet spoon attached is ideal. Use a short 12- to 18-inch leader for the spoon.

Casting Charlie Slabs has long been the favorite white bass and hybrid lure on Lake Livingston

There are other lakes in Texas that are great for going after the striped fish. Lakes Whiney and Texoma and two of the best.

Stripers flesh is much like redfish. Both the hybrids and whites offer a more delicate flesh. As with all fish, be sure to remove any fat or red meat for better flavor.

Tune in to KSET 1300 at 6 p.m. on Thursdays for Billy Halfin Outdoors and listen to The updates daily at 7:25 a.m., 12:25 p.m. and 6:25 p.m.