Bucksaw Marina home to trophy-size hybrid bass

Jeff Faulkenberry and Mike Roux at Bucksaw Marina on Truman Lake with a nice mess of white bass that were bonus fish on their big day.

The predominate color of both smallmouth and largemouth bass are varying shades of green.  

Depending upon water clarity and the depth at which they are living, these greens can range from pale or very vivid. 

All bass, however, do not share these color characteristics.

Striped bass, white bass and hybrid bass all sport a broken-lines of stripes pattern on a white to silver background. These sub-species also differ in their preferred habitat and behavior.  

There is an ever-growing population of anglers that are targeting these fish and for good reasons: they are all great fighters and they all grill or fry up very tasty.

I have some previous experience with white bass on Truman Lake in west/central Missouri. My good friend Steve Custer was a fishing guide on Truman until he went home to be with the Lord many years ago.  

He put me on both white and largemouth bass there, but since his death I have not been back to fish these waters.  

That all changed not long ago.

I hooked up with Truman Lake fishing guide Jeff Faulkenberry for a catfish adventure. We were fishing out of Bucksaw Resort and Marina.  

This is a full-service marina and has some of the best lakefront accommodations I have ever seen. You can literally step out your door and into your boat.  

Shortly after Faulkenberry and I started our catfish trip, other species wanted to get into the act.

Jeff’s technique to catch big blue catfish is to drift over the flats in the lake where the wind has blown shad up onto the shallows. He drags cut shad behind the boat and is a master at finding and catching these big predators.  

As we drifted he suggested that I cast a crankbait to see if perhaps white bass were also feeding on the shad on the flat.

I picked-up a level-wind outfit and tied on my favorite crankbait. I love the Excalibur XCS 200 Series in a Black Shad pattern for whites and largemouth alike.  

On the third cast I knew I had chosen correctly. A fourteen-inch white bass went into the live well and I was on my way.

We were catching blue cats on every other pass over the flat. I was picking up a half-dozen white bass on every pass. I was keeping every white bass over 12 inches and releasing the rest.  

Jeff called these “bonus fish” since the blues were our primary targets. I was very happy because I saw a pile of fillets growing in my mind.

As I was casting I saw one of the catfish rigs get hit. I grabbed it and set the hook with a quick snap of my wrists.  

Two eight-pound hybrid bass were only half of the big hybrids Roux caught that day on Truman Lake.

The hook-set was not really necessary because Jeff uses 8/0 Gamakatsu circle hooks. These hooks are self-setting, but force of habit makes me back that up with a quick jerk.  

Faulkenberry would rather use 10/0 hooks but Gamakatsu does not make them that big. He is constantly in communication with the company to produce a larger circle hook.

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The fight was good and Jeff was right. This fish fought totally different than the catfish I had been catching.  

It ran faster and stayed deeper and the fight was more frantic than the steady pull of a big cat.

As the fish came near the surface Jeff yelled that it was a hybrid bass and a good one. He netted the fish and again commented on its size. I weighed it at 4 pounds, 6 ounces.  

My guide then told me that hybrids in Truman get bigger than this one but they are few and far between. He said he sees only a very few big hybrids each season.  

He also told me these fish are very fragile and that releasing him would be a mistake. He assured me that the trauma of the catch would kill the nice fish.  

He suggested that I add this fish to the ever-growing population in the live well.

I continued casting for and catching whites as we continued drifting and catching blues. If I could have caught a fish with some red on it we would have a very patriotic looking stringer.  

A few minutes passed and another shad rod got hammered, and again it was a huge hybrid bass. This one weighed just a tad over 8 pounds.  

Faulkenberry went nuts.

“That is a monster hybrid,” he yelled as he lifted it out of the net.  

After he saw the weight on the scale he told me he had never had an 8-pounder in his boat before. I was tickled and took a couple photos on the way to the live well.

Almost immediately I got hit again and again a trophy-sized hybrid fought me all the way to the boat. Jeff yelled a war whoop as he netted yet another incredible shiny bass.  

It weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces. We now had two hybrid bass over 8 pounds and Jeff was calling everyone he knew to meet us at Bucksaw when we returned.

By now I had a limit of blue catfish and 16 nice whites to fillet. Jeff was getting anxious to get to the marina and show off our hybrid catch.  

“One more pass and we are out of here,” he told me.  

On that last pass I got hit again. 

Unbelievably I had hooked another trophy-class hybrid. This one was the heaviest at 8 pounds, 12 ounces.  

Jeff Faulkenberry sat down hard on the front deck of his boat and took a long, deep breath.  

“This is a day that I will never forget,” he said, with a wide smile.  

“I guess now I am a hybrid guide, too.”

(Mike Roux can be reached at 217-257-7895.)

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