White bass bonanza on the Sabine, Angelina rivers

White bass bonanza on the Sabine, Angelina rivers

The white bass run is getting stronger by the day on the Sabine and Angelina rivers with the falling water level and the clarity just about right, according to guide Bill Fondren. The boat ramps that were underwater last week are in the process of being cleaned up and by the middle of this week should be ready to use.

“The run is just now starting to crank up,” says Fondren. “A friend of mine caught 84 whites off of a creek on the Sabine River last week. I fished a few days ago on the Angelina River above Rayburn, and we had 48 white bass and 20 nice crappie.”

That’s about as good as fishing gets on both of those rivers.

The Angelina River has very limited access, but if you can get there, the fishing is fantastic and will only get better over the next month or so. Fondren is launching his boat on a back woods ramp that requires the use of a four-wheel drive vehicle. From there he’s running up the river a mile or so. The Angelina white bass run is not nearly as popular as what you’ll find on the Sabine, but it’s definitely worth a run. I’ve fished it on numerous occasions with Fondren, and on every trip, we caught a good mix of both white bass and crappie.

Lots of the small, male white bass are being caught right now. Typically the males move upstream a couple of weeks before the heavier females show up. When the water is a little high, like it is on the Sabine, you’ll do best by fishing in the creeks or at the mouths of creeks. The sand bars tend to hold plenty of whites throughout the spawn.

The key to a successful spawn is to have lots of current. The creeks flowing into the Sabine form the perfect situation for spawning whites.

“I think the run of whites on the Sabine will be one of the best we’ve had in a number of years,” says Fondren. “We’ve got a lot of water and plenty of current.”

The unique thing about fishing on the Sabine is that the white bass are huge. I’ve fished for spawning white bass all over Texas, and during the spawn, they don’t get any bigger than what you’ll find on the Sabine River, about 15 to 20 miles above Toledo Bend.

The hot spot is about 12 miles south of Carthage on Texas Highway 699. That’s where you’ll find a single-lane concrete boat ramp at River Ridge fishing camp. It can be a mess when it’s raining. The ramp can be slippery, and parking without getting stuck can be a trick. But it’s definitely the place to put in. Some of the best runs of big whites can be found on this section of the river. From the ramp you can run upstream or downstream.

Spawning whites are not particular about lure selection — most of the time. The No. 1 lure right about now is a 1/4-ounce Road Runner with a silver blade and orange head. If the water is muddy, a black/chartreuse pattern is best. Fondren says he’s been doing best for whites and crappie on the Angelina with white/pink or white/chartreuse Road Runners.

What a lot of anglers do on the Sabine River is troll with shallow-running cranks in silver, chartreuse or black. A small Rattletrap is good, as well. The darker colors are best when the water is stained. One reason the Road Runner is such a killer lure on spawning whites is that it gets deep and kicks out a lot of vibration from the spinner.

Fly fishing is an excellent way to catch spawning whites. What I like to do is wade the sand bars on the Sabine. The down-current point of a sand bar can load up with whites. A white/red or white/chartreuse Clouser is a fast sinking streamer and is a killer on white bass.

The daily limit is 25 with a 10-inch minimum length. By the way, the state record white bass weighed 5.56 pounds. It was caught March 31, 1977 on the Colorado River.

For information on guided fishing trips, call Bill Fondren at (409) 381-1397. He’s running trips on both the Angelina and Sabine rivers. If you want to double up on both crappie and white bass, I highly recommend fishing the Angelina with Fondren.


Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.