Saturday afternoon Karl, Dave and I made the trek over to Pierre to fish for White Bass, and ended up having a pretty successful trip! We got to Pierre around 3 in the afternoon, and the wind was blowing at hurricane-like speeds. Not ones to be deterred, we strung up our 7 and 8 weights with intermediate tip lines and Maxima and tried to stay upright in the wind while walking down to the river. We all had various clouser-style patterns on, and headed for one of Dave’s favorite smallmouth and white bass spots. It was on the upstream side of a long point that jutted out into the river, and had a dark, almost ocean-like depth to it. We all had high hopes, but after several dozen casts each we hadn’t touched a fish. Generally on the Missouri, if the fish are there you’re into them pretty darn quick, so we elected to move to another spot closer to the dam where we’d done well in the past. They weren’t running much water, so the fish were in slightly different places than if there was more current.
We fished for awhile and Dave landed a nice white bass, and we all had our share of bites that we didn’t connect on. After a few dozen casts I hiked over a small hill towards the main part of the river and clambered down the riprap to the edge of a steep drop off. I connected to a solid 18-inch white bass on the first cast, and caught two more in the next few minutes. I called Karl and Dave and told them to come over to where I was, and they showed up after a couple minutes. We were all catching fish almost immediately, and the fishing was hot and heavy for awhile. White Bass are schooling fish, so when you find more than a couple, you’ve generally found a whole bunch of them! Dave actually caught two nice fish on the same cast fishing two flies – something I’ve heard many times but never actually seen happen. We ended up landing several dozen fish between the three of us, with Dave using his usual fish-whispering mojo to outfish Karl and me for most of the afternoon. We kept a few fish to make for camp dinner that night – they’re exceptionally good, despite their bad reputation as table fare!
The next morning we ventured further down into town to one of our favorite haunts, and Dave was into the fish yet again in just a few casts. By the time Karl and I had fried up a couple breakfast burritos on the tailgate of my pickup, Dave was well into the double digits – the guy has some serious fish mojo! We slowly got wadered up and made our way down and each caught a few fish pretty quickly, and then it slowed down a little bit. As I said before, white bass are schooling fish and they travel around a fair amount. Being mobile is a definite advantage – if you aren’t catching fish, move. You’ll find them eventually, and when you do there’s usually a hell of a lot of them. We drove up to the stilling basin after awhile, and once we fished down the shoreline a couple hundred yards we were into a big school of them again. The water was a bit dirtier, and we were catching them right below the surface. We’d start stripping nearly immediately after the fly hit the water, and this was a school of larger fish. They hit like a ton of bricks, and would bend my 8 weight to the handle. Many of the fish we caught were just a few feet off the rod tip – I always strip the fly line to the rod tip, and then jig the fly a couple times with the rod because of this. We were catching white bass nearly every cast for quite some time – it was borderline crazy, but that’s how this type of fishing usually works. You move around a lot until you find them, and when you do there’s generally a ton of them. Chartreuse, white, and pink were our best colors! The Foxy Minnow was my best pattern.
We ended up landing a lot of fish over the two days we were there, and it was a ton of fun! We landed White Bass, Smallies, and a couple Walleyes as well. If you have a free day or weekend over the next several weeks, I would highly recommend making the short trek over to the Missouri to fish. Swing by the shop and we can show you a few places to try, and get you pointed in the right direction for flies, tackle, and how to chase these fish!