This past week I was contacted by a Minnesota DNR biologist who was in possession of a mystery fish that was more than six pounds.
The angler hoped that he had caught the new Minnesota white bass state record, which is 4 pounds, 8 ounces.
While the biologist was fairly confident that it was a Wiper (hybrid striped bass), he gave me a call and sent some pictures just to verify. He knew we stocked hybrids in the Mississippi River, so we could confirm his suspicions that it was, indeed, a hybrid.
That conversation with him encouraged me to give Quad-Cities anglers a quick lesson on telling the difference between the two breeds.
Either fish species is a handful when on the end of your line. Social media over the weekend showed a QC angler with a 12-pound hybrid striped bass caught locally, so these questions are relevant here as well. Those fish can be found at Lake George, a few other reservoirs within an hour of the Quad-Cities, as well as in the Mississippi River.
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The Quad-Cities Nuclear Station Fish Hatchery stocks between 5,000 and 10,000 yearling hybrid striped bass each spring, with 80% of those fish staying in the area.
When identifying the fish, the first thing to examine is easy, size. If you have something over 5 pounds, it is most likely a hybrid. Those fish can grow to over 15 pounds and will pull your boat around or spool your reel if you are on the shore.
If the fish is 3 or 4 pounds, the next thing to look at is the tongue. A striped bass has two distinct tooth patches on the tongue whereas the white bass has a single, although it may be “U” shaped. If there are two patches, then it is a wiper. This is not an absolute, but a good way to separate them.
Next, look at the shape of the fish. A big white bass will be more circular in nature than a hybrid, which tends to look more like the striped bass part of its lineage. It will have a longer sloping forehead, too. Many anglers talk about a broken bar pattern on the fish, however, that is the least accurate trait. Both animals have that when they get bigger. If you are really in a bind, you can always email me a picture and I can help you positively identify it.
Hybrid striped bass are a great fish to catch, eat, and are so strong that they tend to generate fishing stories. Get out and enjoy our local fisheries.
IHSA Bass Fishing tourney: Congratulations to the Fulton Steamers and Riverdale Rams who competed at the Illinois High School State fishing tournament this past week, held at Carlyle Lake. These two teams finished first and third in the Pool 13 area sectional event, thereby punching their tickets to the state gathering.
Fulton placed 24th in the state event and the Rams 48th out of the 75 teams that qualified for the event.
The lake fished tough like most years with a catch of 19 lbs., 3 ounces winning the event after two days of fishing.
Only two teams caught more than six fish in total across the two days, even though anglers were allowed to bring five fish to the scales each day. Three teams brought five fish limits to the scale on Friday, with two of those teams not catching a fish on Day 2. Fulton caught two fish for 4 lbs. 7 ounces, while Riverdale submitted a single fish for 1 pound 3 ounces.
Congratulations to both teams for representing the Quad-Cities area well and for expanding fishing to our area youth.