Bloomington a hot spot for wipers in fall


The Purdue and Indiana rivalry is fun to be part of.

A Boilermaker myself, I root for the Old Oaken Bucket to stay in West Lafayette, and I Boiler Up when the Hoosiers roll into Mackey. I do my best to support my alma mater, and promote the university when I can, but I must confess that for any aspiring student who likes to fish, Bloomington blows Lafayette away when it comes to water.

Fishing life is rough at Purdue. The Wabash River just isn’t a friendly fishery and there are no close lakes worth naming. It’s not like having Lake Monroe down the road. Purdue students have to travel to fish. One place we’d go was Oakdale Dam on the Tippecanoe River. We’d fish the tailwater below Lake Freeman for wipers, walleye and anything else that would bite.

One day, I hooked a fish so big it ran all the line off my reel and kept tearing down river once it snapped from my spool. It felt like I had hooked a freight train. To this day, I know it was a giant wiper. A number of state records have come from below that dam.

I thought fishing for wipers at Oakdale was pretty special. Then I moved to Bloomington and started fishing for them from the beach at Fairfax. This is the time of year to go give this incredible fishing opportunity a try. You get there early enough and the water will be warmer than the air. You can wade fish in a sweatshirt. It’s perfect. You can also fish for wipers on the lake side of the dam.

If you have a boat, you can find wipers all over the south end of the lake during the fall. Wipers congregate around dams due to the influx of baitfish slipping through from the lake. When an aggressive water release is taking place, meaning a lot of water is flowing through the dam, you can expect good fishing.

According to a DNR press release, hybrid striped bass, also known as “wipers,” are a hybrid species of white bass and striped bass. By hybridizing the two, hatchery staff is able to produce fish that grow faster and larger than a typical white bass, yet can tolerate a wider range of conditions than pure striped bass.

Back in June, the DNR began stocking nine lakes with wipers. Now, these fish are only an inch or so when they’re stocked, but they grow big and mean quick. By year two, they’ll be over a foot long, and by year three they’ll be doubling over your pole.

Because they’re hybrids, wipers are typically not capable of reproduction. So regular stockings are needed to keep the population healthy. And keeping wipers in these lakes is a good thing. Not only because of how much fun they are to catch, but also because they do an excellent job of knocking down gizzard shad numbers. Gizzard shad populations grow very rapidly causing problems for other species of fish, such as bluegills, that rely on the same food sources as the shad. Lakes the DNR stocked with wipers this year include:

Nyona Lake (Fulton County) — 1,040 fish

Worster Lake (St. Joseph County) — 3,270 fish

Clare Lake (Huntington County) — 420 fish

Lake Shafer (White County) — 12,910 fish

Lake Freeman (White County) — 15,470 fish

Shadyside Pond (Madison County) — 1,000 fish

Monroe Lake (Monroe County) — 53,750 fish

Hardy Lake (Scott County) — 7,000 fish

Patoka Lake (Dubois County) — 44,000 fish

If you have never fished specially for wipers, you’re missing out on another incredible opportunity in Indiana. These fish are ferocious fighters. They’ll destroy a topwater bait. If you ever see one blow up on a Zara Spook, you’ll be hooked for life.

See you down the trail …

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