Wipers are the test-tube babies of the fish world in Missouri and Kansas.
A cross between a white bass and a striper, they are products of the laboratory. They are not native to our waters and populations are reliant on how many fish are stocked in each body of water.
That being said, fisheries departments in Missouri and Kansas do a good job maintaining populations and providing good fishing opportunities. Here are my top 5 lists in the two-state area, based on my personal experience, fisheries surveys and observation from guides and other fishermen.
- Truman Lake: Truman has been a good reservoir for wiper fishing since I can remember, and it’s only getting better. Large stockings in 2013 and 2014 resulted in large numbers of fish in the 5-pound range being caught last year. Prospects are good for a repeat performance this year.
- Lake of the Ozarks: The fishing below Truman Dam can be outstanding at times, especially when the Corps of Engineers is running water. The late winter and early spring are prime time. In the summer, fishing also can be good on main-lake structure and near Ha Ha Tonka Spring.
- Thomas Hill Lake: This power-plant lake in northeast Missouri has a thriving population of wipers. There are good numbers of fish exceeding the 20-inch minimum size limit, and they provide a popular winter fishery when fish are attracted to the warm-water discharge from the power plant.
- Blue Springs Lake: This Kansas City-metro lake has developed into one of the state’s best wiper lakes. Fish up to 10 pounds are caught each year, and populations remain impressive, thanks to annual stockings by the Department of Conservation.
- Long Branch Lake: Stockings also have resulted in good fishing at this lake in northeast Missouri. The best action usually comes off wind-blown main-lake points, where wipers school to chase shad.
- Milford Lake: This reservoir near Junction City, Kan., annually provides impressive wiper fishing, especially in the early fall when the topwater fishing heats up. If you see big flocks of gulls working a stretch of water, you’d better get over there fast. They are feeding on shad that wipers have driven to the surface, and the fishing can be fast and furious in those situations.
- Marion Lake: I’ve fished Marion several times for wipers and we’ve caught some large fish. This year looks like a good one. Fisheries biologists rank prospects a s excellent.
- Clinton Lake: Clinton Lake doesn’t rank well in fisheries surveys, but friends tell me of impressive fishing, especially in the early-summer months. Fly fishermen catch fish along the face of the dam, and guides such as Brian Ondrejka catch fish on the main lake.
- Sebelius (Norton) Lake: This reservoir in western Kansas is well-stocked with wipers and it shows. Fishermen annually do well here for the big gamefish. In fact, its three-year average for densities of wipers ranks No. 1 in Kansas.
- Glen Elder Lake: This reservoir in north-central reservoir has the second- highest number of wipers 15 inches and longer in the state. It doesn’t have the numbers of wipers that some reservoirs do, but it’s worth trying.
This is the sixth in a series on fishing prospects for 2017 in Missouri and Kansas. Go to brentfrazee.com for earlier reports.