Hybrid bass or “wipers” are a sterile cross between male striped bass and female white bass. They have been stocked in Ana Reservoir (near the Summer Lake Wildlife Area) since 1982 to create a unique fishery in Oregon and to control nonnative, invasive tui chub.
Wipers are an aggressive predator and spend most of their adult lives swimming in deeper water in large schools chasing tui chub.
Now that wipers have got your attention, we asked local fish biologist Justin Miles in Lakeview for some tips for catching them:
Gear up for big fish. If you fish for largemouth bass, you’ve likely got the gear you need for wipers. Either way, you’ll want a stout rod with plenty of backbone and a solid reel. Add 10- to 12-pound line (braid might be a good choice) and a fluorocarbon leader to try to beat the very clear water.
Don’t leave the fly rod at home. Fly anglers with an 8-weight rod, an intermediate or full-sinking line and streamers that mimic tui chu and other small fish can hold their own. Try trolling from a boat, or casting and stripping from shore.
Target wipers in winter. During the colder fall and winter months you may see wipers in large schools swimming near the surface of the water. Take a deep breath to calm yourself, and try casting rapalas and crankbaits at the pod. Bait fising also can be effective in winter.
Forget ice fishing. Because Ana Reservoir is a closed, spring-fed system it never ices over and maintains a relatively constant temperature. So leave the ice auger and tip ups at home, but remember your gloves and thermals because this part of Oregon can get cold!
Switch tactics for summer. Once the weather turns warmer in late spring/early summer, and surface water temperatures start to rise, wipers will head to cooler, deeper water. Tie on deep diving lures or fish from the bottom with bait, and don’t be afraid to move and cover more water.
Because wipers tend to swim in schools, once you find one there’s a good chance you might find others.
Fish in the dark. Fishing is typically better during the low light conditions just before dark, at night and early in the morning. Even cloud cover can help improve fishing.
Unlike salmon, steelhead and trout, it’s legal to fish for wipers at night.
Be ready! Bites can be savage. More than one angler has had the rod pulled right out of their hands by a hungry wiper.
Fish from a boat to cover more water. Ana Reservoir covers 62-acres at full pool, giving boat anglers the advantage in covering lots of water.
Use bait when fishing from shore. The best bet is to fish along the bottom with sand shrimp, prawns or chicken livers on a 1/0 hook and a 24-inch fluorocarbon leader. Sliding sinkers are ideal, allowing fish to pick up the bait for a solid hookup.
Worms will sometimes work, but seem to be more effective at catching tui chub.
Be flexible. If the wipers aren’t biting, and sometimes they’re just not, turn your attention to rainbow trout during the day.
ODFW stocks legal-size rainbow trout several times between March and June. And holdover trout don’t just survive the winter, but thrive during those months thanks to warmer water temperatures. Come spring, anglers can look forward to catching some very nice holdover trout.
Check the road and fishing reports before you go. Anytime you’re heading to southeast Oregon for a fishing trip, it pays to do your research ahead of time. Check out the weekly Recreation Report for the latest update on water and fishing conditions. And if you’re traveling in the winter, be prepared for winter driving conditions.
Keep one fish – they’re delicious! The regulations allow you to keep one hybrid bass with a minimum length of 15-inches. That’s just about enough for a fish taco dinner! And if luck is on your side, you’ll land a 19-pounder and can invite the whole neighborhood.
We’d love to hear about your trip to Ana Reservoir. If you go, contact Justin Miles, Justin.P.Miles@state.or.us, and let him know how you did – your experience may end up in the weekly Recreation Report.
And don’t forget to take photos. Submit them to ODFW and you may see them on the MyODFW.com webpage, in social media, and on signs and publications.