On Lake Fork, the largemouth bass is king.
But a recent boom of white bass has some people questioning the affect on the most-targeted species on the lake.
“It was very rare to catch any white bass at all, and now you can catch them at will,” said Lake Fork guide Gary Paris. “You can find them anywhere now — they’re all over. They’re in shallow, they’re in deep.”
Paris said he thinks the white bass have actually been beneficial to largemouth fishing on the lake.
“It (the white bass population) helps push the black bass into the cover where they need to be, instead of an open-water roamer like they had been,” he said. “Since the white bass have expanded, when you do find a school of whites there’s typically black bass in there, which make them accessible to catch, too.”
Paris said he is aware of the negative connotation some people hold of the white bass, but said he was glad to have the ability to catch an additional species as their numbers grew.
“There’s a lot of people upset about it,” he said. “It really doesn’t bother me at all.”
Other anglers on Lake Fork are not so sure about the white bass.
“I don’t like them, I don’t want them here,” said Lake Fork guide Brooks Rogers. “As of right now, I wish they wouldn’t have gotten in here, and had never showed up.”
White bass were once unheard of in the lake, Rogers said, but ten years ago the first rumors of anglers catching a couple started, and every year seemed to bring more of the smaller bass.
“There has been a white bass explosion,” he said, “but I don’t think we have them to the extent of a Tawakoni or Cedar Creek.”
The introduction of the white bass could be linked to anglers releasing them in Lake Fork, he said.
“All signs lead to people bringing them from Tawakoni,” he said. “The sand bass started showing up on the west side of the lake, and that’s the Tawakoni side.”
Rogers said the increase in white bass has made guides on the lake on edge about the possible repercussions that may develop in the future, but for now, he is trying to stay hopeful they won’t affect the largemouths.
“I don’t feel like they’ve changed a lot of stuff yet — I can’t really tell that it’s affecting things,” he said.
The contact between the black bass and white bass is going to be mostly insignificant, said Texas Parks and Wildlife District Biologist Rafe Brock.
“There could be slight interaction during the schooling times,” he said. “But white bass are more open water and follow the bait around the water body, while largemouth aren’t near as migratory as the white bass are — they’re more structure or habitat oriented.”
Brock said the majority of lakes are going to have habitat that is complex enough to support both species comfortably. If a lake has less structure there may be more overlap, but it would still be minimal, and both species should have enough to eat.
“Most largemouths are going to be eating bluegill, while white bass aren’t,” he said. “It could even be an additional food source for the largemouth, for the bigger ones that hang out further offshore.”