Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Could we one day be going "wipering" here in the UK ?

Come on, be honest with me now - how many of you have heard of a fish called a "wiper" ? We were having supper one evening out in the Brazil on my recent photo trip and a US angler started to tell me about a fish that is fairly common where he lives in Colorado called a "wiper", and at first I thought he was having me on, but nope, it's true, a "wiper" is a "purpose designed" freshwater fish if you like that is a cross between a white bass and a striped bass - they are created by fertilising the eggs from a white bass with sperm from a striped bass.

Apparently they are aggressive predators that scrap like hell, smash all manner of lures and flies, grow fairly big (10lb plus is apparently not uncommon), taste good, and very importantly, these "man-made" wipers won't reproduce because they are hybrids. Now it is a pipe dream I grant you, but this wiper does sound like a mighty cool fish that I bet you would be huge fun if it could be introduced into the UK and parts of Europe as a viable sport fish for both lure and fly anglers..................

From time to time I hear talk about how good it might be to have largemouth bass here in the UK, but from my limited understanding of these fish they firstly thrive far better in warm water and warm weather (US, Spain, southern France etc.), and secondly it is easy to understand a reluctance to introduce them in case some escaped and started to breed and then create all manner of problems for our local species - and as you may have already guessed, aquaculture is not my speciality !!

As much as we have pike, perch and chub for example, I can't help but think that it would be a bit of fun to have a bass-like species to target in freshwater with our lure gear. Imagine those times when conditions on the open coast are simply rubbish for bass fishing - how about heading inland to lure fish for wipers instead ? This is merely a bit of fun on my part, but I wonder if something like the introduction of a fish species like this could happen if the demand was there. Or do I somewhat naively underestimate the impact of introducing a "foreign" fish into UK freshwaters ?

My understanding is that wipers can live in both rivers and lakes, and obviously being a predator they are going to need a constant source of food - I would imagine they would cheerfully eat shoals of roach for example, but say the lake they are in floods and some wipers escape into the local river system, what is the impact then ? Whatever the case, the fact that these wipers can not breed surely means that like on a stocked trout fishery, the numbers of fish could be carefully managed and accounted for.

Please take this post as it is meant. Call it Monday morning dreaming if you like, but I wanted to bring to your attention this fish that I was told about the other day. I kinda think the name wiper is pretty cool for a fish and the fact that I had never even heard of them really got my interest. Google them and you will find loads of info. Many of us refer to going lure fishing for wrasse and bass as "wrassing" and "bassing" - imagine then going "wipering"...........

I am flying out of Bristol airport tomorrow for some work related meetings in a somewhat colder country than the one I was in recently. In due course I'll tell you what is going on, if indeed it all comes to fruition, but in the meantime have a good week - the forecast looks pretty wet, windy and wild down here in the south west, indeed I tried finding some clean water yesterday afternoon on the last of the flood tide and failed rather miserably.

I did though get a call last Thursday to tell me about a couple of friends on the south coast of Ireland who had a few bass up to around the 5lb mark and dropped a couple of much larger fish - mainly on those 6'' Hawg Wild Sticks (a senko or soft plastic stickbait to you and me) in the green back/white belly colour that these guys were absolutely slaying on around the backend of last year. And bear in mind it was persistent east winds, small tides and very cold conditions. Are we ever going to come close to figuring it all out ?