A new challenge awaits fishermen at Settlement Canyon Reservoir near Tooele — attempting to catch wipers.
“In 2017 we put in 3,000 8-9 inch wipers and stocked another 3,000 in 2018. We recently surveyed the reservoir and found wipers up to 3 pounds and growing,” said Chris Crockett, Central Region Aquatics Manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “For the average fisherman, they can be more difficult than rainbows to catch until they figure out the techniques, but wipers put up a great fight/”
The DWR sampled Settlement Canyon Reservoir with gill nets on May 22. Crockett said he was pleased to see the growth of the wipers.
“The first guys (wipers stocked in 2017) measured up to 17 inches and weighed between 2 1/2 and 3 pounds,” he said.
They also caught a 6-pound tIger trout during the sampling.
For those who would like to take a shot at catching a wiper, tiger trout or any other fish in Utah, no license is needed on Saturday.
Settlement Canyon, Grantsville and Vernon reservoirs have received catchable rainbow trout (10-inch) this spring and will continue to receive rainbow trout through the remainder of spring into the summer, said Randy Oplinger, sports fisheries fisheries coordinator for DWR.
Oplinger said Free Fishing Day makes for a great family activity and is the perfect time to introduce kids to fishing and get them outdoors.
“Because you don’t need a license to fish that day, it’s the perfect time to take someone fishing with you and introduce them to the sport,” he said. “And, early June is one of the best times to fish in Utah. All of the fish in the state, both warm-water and cold-water fish, are active and willing to bite this time of the year.”
Fishing reports show that Settlement and Grantsville reservoirs were stocked recently with rainbows on May 15 and Vernon Reservoir was stocked on May 29.
Crockett said the Utah chub was introduced to Settlement 10 years ago, and wipers were introduced to prey on the Utah chub.
“The chub can grow fast and compete with trout, and fishermen don’t really like to catch them. So we stocked some predators in there with the tiger trout and wipers,” Crockett said.
Tiger trout are a hybrid cross between brown trout and brook trout. Wipers are a hybrid cross between a male white bass and female striped bass.
Settlement Canyon is one of only about 12 reservoirs in Utah where wipers reside. A popular fishing spot for wipers in northern Utah is Willard Bay.
“It seems like it takes a brief education period for anglers to figure out how to catch them. They prey on the Utah chub in the morning and evening so fishing with anything that looks like a 3-inch Utah chub works,” Crockett said.
He also said methods of catching catfish work for catching wipers like fishing with nightcrawlers off the bottom.
They also can be caught with dead anchovies or other minnows, and occasionally the smaller ones are caught using worms fished for catfish, according to utahfishinginfo.com.
Crockett said wipers are sterile, which allows DWR to control the numbers.
“Since they eat a lot of small fish we need the ability to control their numbers by stocking and not worry about them over running a system by reproducing. We can always just stop or lower the stocking if we see a significant reduction in prey,” he said.
The limit for wipers is six.
The aquatics manager said wipers are quite tasty, with a firm white meat good for frying.
“It’s nice to be able to go to place so close to Tooele and be able to fish for wipers,” Crockett said.
Free fishing also is available at Rainbow Reservoir at the Tooele Army Depot South Area near state Route 36, about a 20-minute drive south of Tooele. Individuals must purchase a day permit at a cost of $5 to visit this area. Permits can be purchased at the fitness center at Tooele Army Depot. The reservoir is stocked by DWR.