Every state is known for a handful of good fisheries.
In Pennsylvania, we’ve got great smallmouth bass and native brook trout. The Carolinas have tuna. And Alaska has salmon.
There are just a few species of fish that are popular and found in abundance all across the country. One of them is a species of fish that is quickly gaining status as a national celebrity — the hybrid striped bass.
These fish, often called wipers or just hybrids, were first bred in the mid-1960s. Biologists quickly realized the combined species was a hearty, voracious feeder that put up a fantastic fight when the fish found a hook.
If you've never seen a wiper, they're easy to recognize. They have the telltale stripes of a striped bass, but the lines are typically broken and scattered.
The fish, a purpose-bred combination of a male white bass and a female striped bass, are being released into lakes and ponds all across our land, and most importantly our state. Pennsylvania is seeing more and more hybrid bass every year. Some of my favorite York County lakes, including the Susquehanna River, have soaring populations of the species.
Targeting hybrids is far from difficult. Because they're aggressive feeders, wipers will take all sorts of baits and lures, from a small jig bounced across the bottom to a quickly retrieved top-water lure.
In most of the lakes in our area, gizzard shad are the species’ favorite meal. That means baits that can accurately imitate the size and shape of these small baitfish will do well. Trolling is an especially popular fishing tactic. Anglers that slowly troll crankbaits and traditional stickbaits can expect to find plenty of action.
There are two important things to remember when targeting hybrid striped bass. Troll slowly and keep your drags fairly loose. These fish hit extremely hard and the sudden impact can wreak havoc on a monofilament line. Keep your drag on the light side while trolling to help absorb the impact.
Finally, just as with the prized striped bass in the nation’s saltwater bays and oceans, if you find birds in a feeding frenzy, you'll most likely find hungry hybrids. A school of these bass is very good at surrounding and ambushing a pod of baitfish. When they start their attack, the water appears as if it’s boiling with activity.
Find this scenario and you're in for some fantastic fishing. It's the kind of stuff that some of us dream about at night.
There are few fish that can be found all across the nation that get the kind of attention hybrid stripers receive. They deserve all the attention they get.
Hook into a few hybrids and you'll have a day to remember.
Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.