It’s White Bass Season in North Carolina


Each year in North Carolina when mid-March roles around it marks a special time – and not just because spring is in the air. The spring peepers can be heard singing their swamp melodies and the dogwoods bloom along quiet streets and college campuses. When these things happen, it signifies a changing of water and air temperature and unofficially begins the locally infamous white bass runs of central NC.

The white bass run is part reality, part legend, & part lore. There is a lot of guess work involved and some people, including myself to an extent, relish it almost as much as catching the fish themselves. Because when the white bass run, Durham and the surrounding area are abuzz. Everyone is guessing whether the reports they here – by phone, internet forums, or at the local bait shop – are legit or exaggerated. Some try to mislead on purpose so they can have a little more space to themselves on the water, while others vastly mis-judge where the fish are in their spawning journey up-river.

The peepers have been out for a few weeks now and the dogwoods are looking as beautiful as ever. And, according to my records from past years, it should be white bass time at one of my favorite locations – Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve on the Eno River. The fish here migrate from Falls Lake to spawn. Usually you can catch them there until early to mid-April, but it varies every year. A good day can be well over 50 fish in a fairly short amount of time. Additional good white bass flows include the Uwharrie River, the Haw River, and Jordan Dam, among others.

Last week I scooped up Mary May from school and we headed for the river. We talked to a few fishermen who hadn’t had much luck. The word was that the bite was slow and the fish weren’t “there yet”. So after a little scouting we headed down river to a spot I had fished in the past. Sure enough, on my 2nd cast I had my first white of the season. It was an above average size male – about 11″ that hit a silver spinner. I fish spinners predominantly during the white bass run, but the favorite lures of others include beetle spins, grubs, road runner jigs, hair jigs, and small jerkbaits.

It was about 10 minutes later that Mary May had her first fish – a small crappie. We fished our way back up-river encountering fishermen as we walked. Many were fly fishing and having mixed results. However, we were landing fish with some regularity. At a deep bend I hooked into a small white about 7″ long. A few minutes later I got a great strike and after a nice fight landed a big male – around 15″. The white bass species, like many other fish, typically has much larger females than males. So, it was a real treat to catch a male that big.

We kept fishing and in the next pool and riffle Mary May landed her first white bass – a smaller fish around 6″-7″. But, it was her first white bass. A short time later she had a large male follow her bait to the bank, but refuse to strike. That is the great thing about white bass fishing. In the shallow, clear river you can often see the fish come out of nowhere and either follow or engulf your lure.

We headed to our last spot and descended the steep bank. Neither of us were getting bites, but the area looked good. After a short time without getting bit, Mary May and I hit one last spot before calling it a day. After about 3 hours we found ourselves headed for the parking lot, having caught 11 white bass, 1 crappie, and 1 bream. Not a bad 3 hour trip on a hot Friday afternoon. When we got home later I filleted the fish and put them on the grill. Topped with some summer relish and a side of biscuits, they made for an extremely tasty dinner! White bass are extremely tasty, whether grilled, fried, or baked!

A couple days later I hit another local white bass location and had a fantastic night. In less than 2 hours a friend and I caught 30-40 white bass including numerous fish over 1.5 lbs and my personal best fish – a 2 lb 7 oz male that easily qualified for North Carolina Trophy Citation status. I caught one of similar size a couple years ago, but never got an official weight on it. Again, spinners were the lure of choice, particularly when being worked down river.

If anyone wants to wet a line with me and chase white bass, just let me know. Tight lines!

Born and raised in the state of 10,000 lakes I have been targeting every type of species the waters of Minnesota have to offer ever since I was handed my first fishing pole.

10 Comments on "It’s White Bass Season in North Carolina"

  1. When written as 12 miles it doesn’t sound very high to

  2. says:

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  4. mike snow says:

    Hey all, I just recently moved to the durham area and dont know too many good fishing spots. I brought all my tackle and a few poles from Arizona with me. If anyones up for some fishing shoot , e a line,

  5. roy says:


  6. roy says:

    I usually fish were rocks sticking out in to the water is a go spot or rocks in the water is a good place to start and always reel half speed or slower just keep trying for the wright speed I USED MY WIFES E-MAIL

  7. Heloo! I have a Q. I love my salt water fishing, but i live far from the coast! I got hooked on whitebass and i love fishing for them! I am at Raleigh,nc. and i would like to know if there are good fishing holes for whitebass near by?
    Thank You,God Bless!

  8. Jerry says:

    I was wondering where you were catching all these white bass. I’ve always enjoyed fishing white bass but locally the population around my town has run low and I was wanting to find new fishing areas

  9. Jon Meyers says:

    Hey James,

    for the information you are looking for I recommend contacting our staff out in NC. I would try to reach Bill Kohls at, He is very knowledgeable in that area and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

    Just mention you found this article on the RLO website and had a few questions! Good luck, Rip On…

  10. James watts says:

    I am looking for some one to show me how and where to find white bass i have had some success at the old steel bridge on old hyway 75. i would like to learn more.

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