March Kicks Off The Spring Prime Time Fishing Season
After two months of frigid cold weather and a handful of winter storms, March is always the month Oklahoma's outdoorsmen look forward to breaking their winter slumber. The first fish out of the gate to hit the breeding beds is always the might sand bass - AKA - the white bass - and you should toss a line to experience these good little fighters too.
As temps gradually warm, these fish tend to congregate in large groups in preparation for their annual spawn. Now their spawn won't take place until nearly April down here in Southwest Oklahoma, so until then, they gorge themselves on whatever food is available until then.
What does that mean for me and you? Even though Oklahoma's sport fish generally take a little skill and technique to land lunkers, sand bass are really easy pickings for the next few weeks.
So what is the best thing to catch them on? I have no idea. That's not to say I haven't slain many a fish fry worth of these easily caught filets, it's just that they'll bite on nearly everything you toss out there. Sand bass are also the state's biggest fan of cheap lures.
You can toss just about anything out in the water to entice a sand bass to bite. It's just the nature of the season. They're so focused on prepping for the spawn, they'll eat anything. That being said, I've always had my best luck on silver and white roostertail-type inline spinners.
How good eatin' are they?
From time to time, I've heard people say that sand bass are horribly fishy tasting. These are what we call "People that can't filet fish."
Unlike the large and smallmouth varieties, sand bass are actually a true bass species... they have a similar taste to sea bass and stripers... but exactly like large and smallmouth varieties, you have to know how to clean them properly.
When you first cut a filet off a sand bass, odds are you'll see the same old thing you see in any other sport fish... A ribcage, the lateral line, and maybe a little fatty red muscle layer... That's where all the oil is that gives this fish that muddy, fishy taste. Trim off any red, cut out the lateral line, it'll taste exactly like the hybrid-striped bass they share DNA with.
Does it help to soak it in saltwater? Well, salt is flavor, so it doesn't hurt at all... but soaking fish meat has an unintended consequence... it'll get soft and mushy if you soak it for too long. Instead, if you're not planning on cooking those filets now, put them in a ziplock bag with saltwater and freeze it to use later.
Does soaking it in milk help the taste? I wouldn't know, sounds like a northern thing to do.
What about soaking it in Sprite? Who comes up with these ideas?
Keep it simple. Carve out the sweet white meat and toss the rest. Freeze it for later or toss it in oil/on the grill now. There's no wrong way to... well, the Sprite thing sounds like the wrong way to do it, but to each their own.
If you'd like to get an in-depth look at how to find and catch a ton of these easy-pickin's species, click here to check out the info and pro-tips on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's website. If you'd like to catch the live Q&A session about white bass, click here to enroll in the interactive series scheduled for March 11th.