Oklahoma’s Hidden Gem on the Fly…. White bass (or Sand Bass). Yes that’s right, Sand Bass… One of Oklahoma’s native fish (and state fish actually), are about to flood the rivers and streams to begin their spawn. These fish are typically schooled together and housed in reservoirs or large rivers but will venture into the smaller streams or rivers in vast numbers to mate… definitely good for us (more fish, less water… game on!).
Now, sand bass are not the typical fish species that you hear about in your fly fishing magazine, podcast, or watch on the F3T. In fact they often go unheard and occasionally you’ll see your fishy friends post some cool sand bass pictures during the spring months. While fly fishing is typically associated with trout fishing, we know fly fisherman who fish for trout 3 days a week and completely switch to sand bass during the spawn...it is that much fun. Without getting into too many details or an argument on the matter, fly fishing or using a fly rod is just another tool in the tool box. It is an especially dangerous tool when fishing for sand bass.
Sand bass are mostly visual feeders, or they attack their food by seeing what's nearby and striking at it. One of the sand bass’s favorite foods is shad or minnows, again making this species amazing on the fly rod. Equipment wise all you need is a 5wt to 8wt fly rod, a shorter and heavy leader (7’ to 9’ and about 8lb test), and a fly that imitates its favorite food…. Bam, that’s it! Cast the line out in the water, strip the line like a swimming/wounded baitfish, and hold on. The hardest part of being successful is locating them (that’s where we come in).
While there are other things to take into consideration too, such as sink rates, retrieval speed, and messing with size and color of the fly from time to time (this will all come with experience), I promise it’s not too important and is one of the easiest styles of fly fishing. If the fish are in the rivers and they are moving in large numbers, you can expect a lot of fish and a great time.
Another amazing attribute is that you don’t need to imitate Brad Pitt’s cast from, “A River Runs Through It”, you really just need to get the fly in the water far enough away where you can imitate a bait fish. You also don’t need a fancy rod, line, leaders, etc… to be successful. No matter your skill level, and especially if you’re curious about the sport of fly fishing, you need to check out sand bass on the fly. I wish I would have had the opportunity when I was kid because one, it would have more quickly severed that erroneous connection I had with fly fishing and trout. And two, it would have given me the opportunity to increase my confidence and imagination with streamer fishing right from the start.
For the chance of reeling in high numbers, with a heavy and deep tug (for the size) on every take, we’ll guarantee you that you’ll be hooked or at least will have a better appreciation for one of Oklahoma’s native fish. We highly recommend you check this out as it’s another great opportunity to take advantage of Oklahoma fly fishing.