When the dogwoods and redbuds are blooming, the white bass are running. At least, that’s what I’ve always heard and has been true in my experience.
Late March through early May is the best time to go white bass fishing in Arkansas because they’re making their annual spawning run.
Some water bodies in the Natural State are better than others for white bass.
Below, you’ll find my list of the top fishing spots for white bass, which I call sand bass. However, you’ll likely notice three famous Arkansas fishing lakes missing from this list: Table Rock Lake (primarily located in Missouri, where the best runs happen), along with Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes.
While these are three excellent white bass fishing lakes and definitely worth visiting, I decided to include the White River instead since those latter two lakes flow are a part of this watershed.
Located in north central Arkansas, the White River is home to world-renowned trout fishing, so many anglers tend to overlook the incredible white bass fishing opportunities this river provides.
There are public access points all over the river, which makes it the perfect choice for bank anglers looking to escape the crowds at Bull Shoals and Norfork Lake during the spring runs.
Look for deep holes near ripples and rapids, as sand bass will congregate in these areas before spawning.
Some of my favorite river lures for white bass are crappie jigs, shallow diving crankbaits, Mepps spinners, and Rooster Tails. I’ve also caught a lot of white bass on small spoons while river fishing.
After the spring run, these fish patrol the submerged river channel, hunting for a school of shad.
During the summer, trolling up and down the river using crankbaits and spoons is the best way to locate a school of hungry white bass. Use a swivel with the spoon; otherwise, you’re in for a line-twist nightmare.
Lake Atkins is a relatively small impoundment, unlike Bull Shoals, Beaver, or Ouachita lakes.
This northwestern Arkansas reservoir is well known for excellent largemouth bass fishing, which means anglers often overlook the white bass despite having a healthy population.
What’s great about this lake is that the white bass have minimal options in the spring. They primarily run up Horsehead Branch Creek to spawn. A few will spawn in the backs of coves, but the creek is the first place I would begin white bass fishing during the run.
During the summer, the large white bass schools hunt for their next meal along the edges of flats and main lake points. Because the water is so clear, these schools of white bass often look like a big shadow in the water, so if you see one of these shadow schools, you know you’ve found them.
I would start fishing in the backs of the coves during the fall because white bass follow their food into the shallows to feed heavily before winter sets in and they head back to the open water.
The best lures at Lake Atkins are naturally colored crankbaits, topwaters, spinners, jigs, and swimbaits.
If you’re looking for a spot to fish in northwest Arkansas, Beaver Lake is as good as it gets. This giant reservoir is home to numerous species, including white bass.
The Upper White River and War Eagle Creek are the two places to be during the spring white bass spawn, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find them in the other feeder creeks or along the dam spawning among the rip-rap.
During the summer, most sand bass return to the main lake and school up, patrolling creek channels near flats and main lake points. However, you can still find a population in the creeks and rivers.
Trolling a crankbait is my favorite way to catch white bass during the summer. Although, when you see them busting on shad and minnows, a topwater is unbeatable.
White bass follow their food back to the shallows as fall approaches, making them much easier to locate and catch with a crankbait or small jig.
White bass spend most of the winter schooled up along ledges and in the creek and river channels, occasionally coming shallow to feed on warmer days.
Since Beaver Lake is so clear, you’ll probably need to downsize your line and use realistic colors on your lures.
Just be aware that a striped bass, a much larger cousin of the white bass, may grab your lure and put that light line to the ultimate test. Beaver Lake is among a handful of great striper fishing lakes in Arkansas.
Lake Conway sits just north of Little Rock near I-40. It’s one of Arkansas’s most popular white bass destinations because it’s a short drive for many anglers.
Catching white bass here isn’t much different than any other lake in Arkansas.
Head for one of the tributaries in the spring, where the white bass are most likely to spawn.
During the summer, trolling the creek channels and main lake points is where I would begin. Fishing around one of the three bridges that cross the lake is also an excellent place to start your search for white bass.
White bass will push their food onto the shallow flats to feed heavily before returning to the creek channels for much of the winter.
White or silver crankbaits, spoons, and jigs will all catch sand bass at Lake Conway.
Greers Ferry Lake
Once known for the world-record walleye, Greers Ferry Lake is also home to incredible sand bass fishing.
Head to the northern river arms in the spring to catch white bass on small jigs, crankbaits, and spinners.
You’ll find white bass in the main lake and patrolling along ledges in the summer, so I prefer to troll, covering plenty of water in my search for a hungry school.
Bank anglers again will find these fish easier to catch during the fall because they’ve followed their food into the shallows.
In winter, sand bass will return to the deeper holes and river channels, occasionally finding a meal in the shallows during a warm stretch of weather.
Lake Maumelle is another impoundment in central Arkansas that receives lots of well-deserved white bass fishing pressure.
While there are several creeks that the white bass run up during the spring spawning season, the Maumelle River is the favorite place to be.
There’s lots of access to the water for bank anglers and boaters. If you are among the latter, check the local regulations, as there are boat and wading restrictions here.
After the white bass have returned to the main lake in the early summer, head to one of the Highway 10 bridges to begin your search. If the bridges don’t pan out, I would focus on the main lake points and flats near the creek and river channels.
As fall approaches, schools of white bass will push their food onto the flats and into the backs of the coves to feed before returning to the deeper creek and river channels for the winter.
There is no need to get fancy with your lure selection here; all your typical lures and colors will get bites throughout the year.
Millwood Lake is down in the southwest corner of the state. It’s a shallow body of water and is one of the first locations to take off for the white bass’s spring spawn.
I recommend heading up the feeder creeks and rivers in the spring; the action will be the heaviest as white bass congregate in these areas.
Once the spawn is over, white bass will begin heading back towards the main lake. However, a population of fish will remain in the creeks and rivers all year.
Fishing the main lake during the summer is best done by trolling and watching for a feeding frenzy along wind-blown points and flats.
In the fall, sand bass will push baitfish up onto the shallow flats to feed heavily before winter sets in. In the coldest months, they’ll spend most of their time in creek and river channels, occasionally venturing shallow for an easy meal.
While Millwood doesn’t have crystal clear waters, it’s still best to use naturally colored lures that match the local forage, such as shad and minnows, as these are the primary food sources for white bass.
My white bass lures don’t change much throughout the year; I like to throw crappie jigs and crankbaits in the spring. I use spinners, crankbaits, spoons, and crappie jigs in the summer when the bite is tough. I primarily use crankbaits in the fall to get their attention, but I like spoons and crappie jigs the most in the winter.
Millwood Lake has a nice variety of fishing options, including some of Arkansas’s better catfishing.
If the other central Arkansas lakes are too crowded, try Lake Nimrod.
In the spring, head as far up the Fourche La Fave River as you can get to reach the best white bass fishing spot, but there’s solid white bass fishing in all of the lake’s tributaries during the spawn.
In the heat of the summer, you’ll find white bass in the river channel and around main lake points.
The backs of coves and into the creeks are the places to be in the fall, as the sand bass push their food onto flats to feed before returning to open water for most of the winter.
Naturally colored swimbaits, crankbaits, spinners, topwaters, and jigs are as reliable here as elsewhere in Arkansas.
These lures will catch other species, including showing you why we’ve also spotlighted Lake Nimrod for its excellent crappie fishing.
Another giant reservoir, Lake Ouachita, has some of the best white bass fishing for anglers in the southwest and central parts of the state, thanks to its many tributaries.
While you’ll find white bass in the feeder creeks, the Ouachita River will hold the largest run in the spring.
In the summer, if you own a boat, you’ll have plenty of options. I recommend trolling around some of the islands and main lake points.
White bass will return to the shallows in the fall, again putting them in reach for bank anglers to catch before they school up in the open water for winter.
Natural colors, such as white, silver, and gold, will work best in the clear waters of Lake Ouachita, especially when you’re using crankbaits, small jigs, spoons, and spinners.