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State record wiper caught at Newcastle

CEDAR CITY — Russell Nielson had never caught a wiper before. Imagine his surprise when the first wiper he reeled in was a new Utah state record.

Russell Nielson shows Utah's new record wiper. He caught the 11-pound, 2-ounce fish at Newcastle Reservoir.

Russell Nielson shows Utah's new record wiper. He caught the 11-pound, 2-ounce fish at Newcastle Reservoir.

Photo courtesy of Russell Nielson

On May 21, Nielson traveled to Newcastle Reservoir. The reservoir is west of Cedar City.

After he arrived at the water, he attached a piece of anchovy to a worm hook and cast it into a school of large wipers he saw cruising near the shore. A wiper quickly took the bait and broke Nielson's fishing line.

After tying on a new hook — and loosening his drag a bit — he tried again. This time, a large fish took off with his bait.

The fish nearly took all of the line off his spool, running 50 to 60 feet of line off at a time. After a thrilling 5-minute fight, Nielson landed Utah's new record wiper.

The wiper was officially certified at 11 pounds, 2 ounces. It beat the previous record by 5 ounces. And get this: Nielson says it wasn't the largest fish in the school.

"I'll definitely be back to Newcastle," he says, "trying to improve on the record."

Michael Hadley, aquatic biologist with the Division of Wildlife Resources, says wipers are a sterile, hybrid cross between a female striped bass and a male white bass.

"We began stocking wipers in Newcastle in 2005, to help control a dense population of invasive golden shiners that had been illegally introduced to the reservoir," he says. "The shiners were negatively affecting other fish by competing with them for food and space."

Hadley says the wipers did a great job. "We see very few shiners in Newcastle anymore," he says. "And the survival and growth of rainbow trout has improved immensely."

The success at Newcastle has led biologists to stock wipers at additional waters in southwestern Utah where another fish — Utah chubs — are causing problems.

"Minersville, Otter Creek and Piute reservoirs are among the waters where we've placed wipers," he says. "Anglers have caught wipers up to 18 inches long at Minersville this year. Wipers up to 15 inches long have been caught at Otter Creek and Piute."

In recent years, Hadley says DWR biologists have reduced the number of wipers they've stocked into waters in southwestern Utah. "We want to make sure the wipers do not have a negative effect on other sportfish species in the reservoirs we've placed them in," he says.

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