It is spring here in Michigan and for the bulk of anglers it means walleye, bass, and bluegill, but for a few it means the white bass run. Michigan is home to one of the largest white bass runs in the country, and the Detroit River is the place for this spectacle. Tens of thousands fill the river every spring to gorge on minnows and to start the next generation of white bass.
White bass are schooling fish, they move in large groups in search of minnows. When they find them they will round them up into tight balls, and then one by one the white bass begin to attack the ball of minnows. As they attack, the minnows head to the surface where waiting terns and gulls will start to feed. Generally this only last for 20 to 30 minutes, but on occasions it can last for hours. A multiple hour bait-busting event happened to me just the other day.

The game plan was to go look for some white bass that day, but neither myself or my friend expected to witness such an event. The morning met us with a dense fog; at times we were lucky to even be able to see a 100 yards in front of the boat. As we made our way slowly through the marina, we heard the chirping of terns and splashing water, hinting at what would lie ahead of us in the fog. We made the final turn onto the Detroit River when just ahead of us the water was erupting with bait fleeing from hungry predators below.

My buddy asked me to hop up on the bow of the boat and make a cast and see what we had busting bait. With a quick cast, the bait was taken as it hit the surface. That 1st fish was the start of 3 hour fishing frenzy. Before we even got the trolling motor in the water we had already caught several fish. The white bass were busting bait in an area the size of a football field. I have never seen any sight like this, not even on TV or saltwater fishing. This was an epic event, and we had no idea just how long it was going to last.

The weapon of choice for us was light power rods and light line. The lures used for the day were twister tails,slimers,  top water, and crankbaits. There was even a point where I was using 2 and 3 jigs on one line. There was no special rod motion, just cast into the school and reel. It was common to see 6 or 8 fish all going for your lure at the same time.

At the 3 hour mark our hands had had enough. We had caught over 300 fish between the two of us. One of which was a master angler award. That fish is the 1st master angler fish I will be turning in this year. When we left the fish they were still busting bait, but on a smaller scale.

This is truly a special kind of fishing and a rarity in freshwater guided by the pre-spawn gorging of the white bass. If you have never tried this kind of fishing, get out and give it a try. Just look for groups of boats anchored up, these areas are community holes where white bass are found every year during the run. You can also do what we like to do and search for birds actively feeding with fish busting the surface. This technique works out on the big lakes like Erie and Saginaw bay also. If you’ve got kids you want to get out fishing, this is maybe the best fishing for them in freshwater hands down.

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