Russell Nielson, a track and field athlete at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, caught his first wiper late last month. It also happened to be a state record. According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), Nielson reeled in the fish from Newcastle Reservoir on May 21 just west of the college town. The wiper—a hybrid of striped and white bass—was certified by state biologists at 11 pounds and two ounces, beating out the old state record by five ounces.
The fight only lasted five minutes, but the college student’s fishing trip was not without frustration. Nielson’s first fish of the day had gotten away after breaking his line, giving him a taste of the aggressiveness that wipers are generally known for. Wipers also have a reputation for being easy to catch since they school in large numbers. The angler noted that he saw even larger fish in the reservoir that day.
“I’ll definitely be back to Newcastle, trying to improve on the record,” Nielson said.
Wipers are highly valued by anglers for their combative nature and delicious meat, and the fish also provide a very visible benefit to the areas where they are stocked. Wipers are naturally sterile. In addition to their resilience to temperature extremes and low oxygen, wipers make perfect candidates for aquaculture and species control.
“We began stocking wipers in Newcastle in 2005, to help control a dense population of invasive golden shiners that had been illegally introduced to the reservoir,” said DWR aquatic biologist Michael Hadley. “The shiners were negatively affecting other fish by competing with them for food and space.”
As a result of the hybrid bass’ introduction, the reservoir’s shiner population has declined and anglers are seeing a rise in the number of rainbow trout. Wipers usually maintain a diet of bluegill, minnows, and other small fish but can grow well over 20 pounds. In 1997, an angler named Jerry Shaum took a 27-pound, five-ounce hybrid from the Greers Ferry Lake in Arkansas.
Image courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources