CEDAR CITY – Two young women exceeded the state record for biggest catch of hybrid striped bass, or wiper, recently in Iron County, with one earning bragging rights to the title.
Haydee Bullard and Rennen Halladay each caught a wiper weighing in over 12 pounds, surpassing the previous state record of 11 pounds, Regional Aquatics Manager Richard Hepworth, with Division of Wildlife Resources, said.
Bullard, who caught a 14-pound fish, now holds the standing record, while Halladay holds second with a 12.05-pound fish.
The winning fish came out of Newcastle Reservoir, home to some very large hybrid striped bass, also called wipers.
DWR biologists stocked the wipers in the reservoir in 2005 to help control golden shiners, a fish species that had been illegally introduced to the basin several years ago.
“The shiners were illegally brought in from Lake Mead and dumped in the reservoir about 10 to 15 years ago, and then they reproduced,” Hepworth said. “The shiners began taking over the reservoir, and the trout and the smallmouth bass that were in there began to struggle.”
While it’s unlikely the shiners will ever be eliminated, the wipers have done an excellent job getting rid of many them, Hepworth added.
DWR experts say the wipers’ presence in the reservoir has also lent to some great fishing, as the hybrid species has now grown large enough to produce many record-setting fish in recent years. The trout and smallmouth bass are also thriving.
Now it’s all about making sure the basin maintains equilibrium and making sure the numbers of trout, wipers, shiners and smallmouth bass remain at healthy levels.
“It’s all about a balancing act,” Hepworth said.
Many anglers enjoy catching the wipers that tend to be hard-fighting and aggressive and normally taste good. However, the mercury levels in the hybrid fish located in the Newcastle Reservoir are considered unsafe by DWR and the Department of Environmental Quality and should not be consumed.
The trout and smallmouth bass may also be considered dangerous in this basin but it is not as likely since they are “lower in the food chain,” Hepworth said.
Anglers can check online to determine the mercury levels before deciding whether to keep their catch.
As the summer heat rises great fishing in the reservoir will begin to fall off, but Hepworth said anglers can expect it to resume next fall when the temperatures begin to drop again.
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