Fly Fishing for Sand Bass – What’s So Special?

| March 7, 2012

Sand bass are an interesting for a number of good reasons.

First, they are an extremely plentiful fish – schooling in huge numbers on Texas lakes during certain times of the calendar year. There are times when, just as on the Gulf Coast, we hop in a boat and go looking for birds. Seagulls will be diving on shad that have been schooled up and are being attacked by sand bass on the surface. Cooperation between birds and fish is remarkable, and extremely efficient. At times the fish, and I’ve been in these “blitzes” on a kayak, can cover an entire acre, and I have heard legends of even larger blitzes. It’s not a question of catching, it’s a question of getting tired of catching. If you check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s size and keep limits, they’re amazingly low and high for a reason. Typical lake regulations are a 10-inch minimum and 25 fish bag limit per day. That’s a lot of fish.

Second, sand bass taste good. Hey, I am a catch-and-release guy, but these are hard times, and I feel like a little sand bass action can put a few meals on the table. When we fish for meat, it’s sand bass, and we try to make all the cleaning (which I can prove I am not good at) worthwhile by upping our keep size to 12-inches. They are a very neutral tasting white meat, with the lake fish typically tasting slightly better than the creek runners. They just seem to be in fantastic condition during the time of year when they are chasing shad all over the lakes. These fish were made for fish tacos, and I am happy to oblige.

IF YOU want to catch and release sand bass, more power to you. Chances are there is someone on the bank further up creek who would love to feed their family, and sand bass are just crazy enough to bite again pretty quickly.

Third, speaking of crazy … these fish fight like crazy. Really, they will give you a “what for” just for hooking them. They aren’t as insane as a palmetto or a striper, but sand bass are in the creeks and crannies that stripers and palmetto hardly ever go. They will wear the skin right off your thumb for lipping them, because they are still slapping you the whole time you are trying to get a hook out. I’ve taken my skin all the way down to the last layer (and that hurts by the way) during spring sand bass runs. If you get into a run of females, or larger males, say 14-16 inches, you’ll know you’ve been in a fight – guaranteed.

Fourth, sand bass aren’t really all that difficult to catch on a fly rod. I’ve seen a lot of flies concocted with sand bass tacos in mind, and many of them tend to over think the taste buds of sand bass. When they are blitzing on the lake, they will eat beyond capacity, regurgitating their way to the boat and leaving eaten shad in the boat as well. It’s quite easy to catch two fish during blitzes when the second is following the hooked fish looking for left overs. I’ve caught bigger fish on lake blitzes by fishing below the blitz. Imagine larger fish waiting for what falls below.

Tomorrow – What you need to know to catch sand bass on fly in southern creeks.

NOTE – Hey fellow fly fishers, I was called on to do a photo shoot for Peterbilt in Seattle, Washington, today. And that means today! So I will be on the road for a couple of days in Washington State. Sorry for not adding artwork to these posts on sand bass, and I had some grand ideas, but maybe I can make it up to you in Seattle over the next few days.

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Category: Culture on the Skids

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

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