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White bass

A doll fly jig lured this white bass at Swanson Reservoir in Hitchcock County, a top destination for white bass fishing this year.

I often say that one of the things I love about fishing in Nebraska is that there is no closed season, I will fish some place for some species of fish every month of the year. By being versatile and fishing for a variety of different fish, a person can almost always find something that is biting somewhere in our great state.

You may think I have gone crazy in the heat, but that even includes the “dog days” of mid- to late summer. Yes, fishing gets tougher during the summer, but it is not because the fish do not like the heat or quit feeding. Actually, with the peak water temperatures, fish feed more during the summer than they do any other time of year. Fishing gets tough during the summer because natural prey is at its peak abundance. Fish almost literally have to do nothing but open their mouths to be full, and difficult to catch, until the next short feeding window.

One great fishing opportunity that comes around every summer is to chase white bass, and perhaps some much larger hybrid striped bass or “wipers” on large Nebraska reservoirs. Mid- to late summer actually provides some of the most exciting opportunities to catch white bass and wipers as those open-water predators chase baitfish towards the surface.

Feeding frenzies erupt as the schools of white bass and wipers slash into baitfish on the surface. Besides the boils on the surface, and baitfish jumping out of the water, look also for frenzied gull activity above the surface. The birds will lead the way to hot action.

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Anglers will want to ease carefully into casting range without running over the fish and spooking them down. A variety of artificial baits that are the same size and silvery or white colors of the baitfish will work; all a person has to do is get them near feeding fish. Spoons, spinners, jigs, and crankbaits will all catch fish; use something you can cast far. For even more excitement, throw a top-water bait. When the surface activity slows, try fishing deeper in the same area to pick up a few stragglers.

The best waters in Nebraska for summer white bass and wipers tend to be large reservoirs where those open-water predators thrive. Harlan, Calamus and McConaughy are perennial favorites, but be sure to check the annual Fishing Forecast for other picks.

The best thing about the summer white bass and wiper feeding frenzies is they are most likely to occur during prime times — early and late in the day when it is cooler and more comfortable. A person can get in on some hot fishing early and then take a break and soak in the water during the heat of the day.

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Daryl Bauer is the fisheries outreach program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Contact him at daryl.bauer@nebraska.gov. Read his blog, Barbs and Backlashes, at OutdoorNebraska.org.

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