Usually, squads of smaller male whites are the first to ascend the rivers, creeks and streams, followed by successive waves of adult females.
The fish hold in the rivers, often concentrating in deep holes or eddies or in bends of the river or just downstream from shoals or dams or other barriers to upstream movement.
Often, they crowd into feeder creeks off the rivers, particularly if those feeder creeks hold clearer water than the main river channel.
"They'll look for clear water, or get right on the edge of where clear water mixes with muddy water," said Jane Gallenbach, who guides anglers to the incredible wintertime white bass fishery in the Sabine River upstream from Toledo Bend Reservoir.
The white bass hordes seem to be in no great hurry to spawn. They'll hold in the rivers, creeks and streams for weeks, moving here and there as the rise and fall, clearing and muddying of the streams dictate. And they tend to hold in tightly packed schools holding what must be thousands of fish.
The trick is finding them.
"They can be concentrated in very, very small areas," Hornick said. "You have to move and experiment until you find them. Most of the time, they'll be associated with some break or change in bottom structure — a deep hole, an eddy, a slope on a sand bar."
And just because whites are in a particular spot one morning doesn't mean they'll be there the next or even that afternoon. The rivers and streams white bass use on their spawning runs are much more dynamic systems than reservoirs and much more subject to fluctuations in water level, clarity, temperature, current and other factors that can trigger whites to relocate.
"If you get a change in the water level, even a foot, the fish can move on you," Gallenbach said . "They might move a long way, or they might just move 15 or 20 feet. But if you don't find that spot, you're probably not going to catch a lot of fish."
But for anglers who do find the fish, it's possible to catch a 25-fish daily limit in barely more than 25 casts. And it doesn't take expensive fishing tackle or a ton of angling talent to do it.
"It's not a big finesse thing, " said Gallenbach, who fishes almost every day of the Sabine River white bass run. "If you put a lure down there where the fish are, they'll hit it."
Over the past week or so, rivers and streams across eastern and southern Texas have seen the first flurries of the winter white bass run. Good catches of whites, mostly males, have been taken from Yegua and Nail's creeks off Lake Somerville, in the creeks feeding the Trinity River upstream from Lake Livingston, in the Frio and Nueces in South Texas and even in the flooding Sabine River upstream from Toledo Bend.
The run will continue gaining steam over the next several weeks as more whites pile out of the lakes and head into the current. The run typically peaks from about the middle of February to the middle of March.
Sometime in March, when water temperature, photo period, river flow and whatever other factors play into triggering the procreative switch in white bass brains, female whites with bulging egg sacs will move into fairly shallow water over sandy or rocky bottom, and the actual spawn occurs.
As the resulting fertilized eggs begin their trip downstream on the current, the adult fish follow. The reverse migration is on.
Fishing in rivers and streams can remain outstanding into early April.
But it's the heart of the season — that February and March stretch — that is most intense and can be most rewarding.