Hybrid Striped Bass

Where to Find Them
Equipment
Baits & Lures
Angling Tips
Hybrid Striped Bass Fact Sheet

Fishing for Hybrid Striped Bass

Hybrid striped bass, also known as wipers, are a cross between a female striped bass and male white bass. This hybrid cross can grow fast and reach sizes much larger than the native white bass. Hybrid striped bass in Iowa can weigh over twenty pounds and are explosive fighters when hooked.
 
Wiper fry were first stocked into Iowa waters in 1981 at Saylorville reservoir and pool fourteen of the Mississippi River in 1984 to control gizzard shad populations and offer anglers another sport fish. Thanks to improvements in hatchery techniques, additional areas are now stocked. Find striped bass at Red Rock and Saylorville Reservoirs, Des Moines River, Ada Hayden Heritage Park Lake, Blue Heron Lake, Grays Lake, Copper Creek, pool fourteen through sixteen of the Mississippi River, Lake Macbride, Pleasant Creek Lake, Prairie Park, Sand Lake, Iowa River below Coralville Reservoir, Three Mile Lake and Lake Manawa

Where to Find Them
Baitfish can be found in shallow water in the back portions of bays or flats where warmer water flows into a lake during spring. Hybrid striped bass will be in the closest deep water while resting and then push up into the shallower water pinning schools of baitfish to the bank.

Later in the spring, look for areas where baitfish and white bass spawn. Hybrid striped bass usually are close to white bass. Baitfish spawn in shallow water, giving wipers an advantage to capture prey. If you find large group of baitfish without hybrid striped bass, cast crankbaits or swim baits into the nearest deep water area.

Below dams and riffles that block or slow upstream movement of baitfish trying to spawn can be great places to catch hybrid striped bass. Cast hair jigs tipped with a minnow or twister tails into the current and retrieve them back through the calm water.

As water temperatures reach the 70’s and 80’s, baitfish can be found anywhere in a lake. Schools of hybrid striped bass actively watch for baitfish in bays and deep water in the lake basin. White bass and hybrid striped bass run baitfish along drop-offs on reservoirs. Many of these areas are easy to cross and give shore anglers a chance to catch hybrid striped bass. Troll or cast into the sharp drop offs on shoreline points. If you find aggressively feeding schools of white bass, hybrid striped bass are often just below them; adjust to use a larger and heavier jig or lure.

River hybrid striped bass can be found in deep holes or brush piles during the summer. They will be along the edge of the brush pile or current seam to pick off bait fish that drift by. Cast crankbaits, rattle traps or jigs along the edge of the brush pile or current seam.

Look for where the gulls eat to quickly find schools of hybrid striped bass on large reservoirs (like Saylorville and Red Rock). Schools of feeding wipers push gizzard shad to the surface making an easy meal for the gulls.

As water temperatures begin to cool and lake turnover follows, baitfish will come back to the warmest water, usually either deep in the basin, on flats or in bays on sunny days. Hybrid striped bass will feed heavily to prepare for winter. Look to windblown shorelines with scattered rocks or other habitat.

Equipment
Anglers have many fishing rods to choose from. Where you find fish in the water column will decide what type of rod and line you should use. Use medium to medium heavy action spinning or bait casting rods with 6-12 pound test monofilament or braided line. Higher rated line is often used when fishing next to boat docks or flooded timber. Seven to ten feet trolling rods combined with planer boards can be used to spread lures out behind the boat to find scattered schools of fish. Fly rods are another option.

Baits & Lures
Popular lures and bait to successfully catch hybrid striped bass are crankbaits, rattle traps, spoons, top water lures, jerk baits, soft plastics including twister tails or swim baits, hair jigs and live baits, such as fathead minnows.

White, silver or fire tiger color lures are often used to match baitfish or to have a lure that sticks out in a school of baitfish. Lure size and shape should mimic what hybrid striped bass are eating that day. At times, hybrid striped bass can be very picky toward a specific size baitfish. Other times lure size and color doesn’t matter if the angler places the lure close to the fish. Use live bait fished on the bottom or suspended from a bobber.

Angling Tips
Ways to catch hybrid striped bass vary from using expensive sonar units to find deep water baitfish schools while trolling, to using a bobber and minnow off a fishing jetty. The key to success for any technique is to find their food source. Shad and minnow species in streams will gather in areas where moving water creates current seams. Where many habitat types come together in a lake, like creek channels surrounded by flats covered with standing timber or stumps, baitfish will use the flooded trees and surrounding areas as cover from predators and to feed. Target windblown lake shorelines that make a mud line which confuses baitfish and provides an advantage for predator species like hybrid striped bass.

Cast jigs, swim baits or crankbaits near shore or where fish are breaking the water’s surface while feeding in the spring. If you can’t find active fish in shallow areas, work jigs or jerk baits around standing timber near the creek channel.

The best fishing during summer months is usually at sunrise and sunset or during cloudy or foggy days when baitfish move towards the surface to eat zooplankton. Cast top water lures, spoons, crankbaits or soft plastic jigs into schools of baitfish breaking the surface. When surface feeding stops, let your jig sink before you start your retrieve as hybrid striped bass pick off baitfish that were wounded by their pointed operculum (gill cover). Continue to search for the next school of baitfish to surface. During the day when no surface activity is being seen, troll crankbaits and spoons while watching your depth finder to find schools of suspended baitfish with hybrid striped bass nearby.

As fall gets closer to winter, baitfish will be suspended in deep water. Vertical jig with spoons or jigs around schools of baitfish while watching your depth finder. On rivers, find hybrid striped bass in the deepest holes on outside bends or below dams. Cast jigs tipped with soft plastics or minnows to the edges of current seams.