Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More

Milford Fall Wiper Fishing

(anglers talking) Mike Harris calls it fast-break fishing. And
when he runs this offense, he’s soon hooked up to some of Kansas’ hardest-fighting gamefish
at Milford Reservoir. Harris, an 18-year Milford fishing veteran,
operates Acorns Resort at Farnum Creek. Catching big wipers is a favorite pastime, and he shared
his run-and-gun tactics with Brent Frazee, outdoors editor of the Kansas City Star. In
just a few hours on an October afternoon, the pair caught several dozen wipers and white
bass, despite windy and murky water conditions. While many anglers watch their graphs to find
fish, Harris sweeps the water with binoculars to look for diving gulls. This signals shad
swarms, a favorite late-summer prey of white bass and wipers, or hybrids, as they’re
sometimes called. Large wipers tend to school and attack shad from below, slashing and splashing
at the surface as they feed. Gulls that attack from above help to spot these feeding frenzies
at long distance. Then, Harris guns his boat into action, racing
to the spot and casting into the fray. The trick is to get there in time. Sometimes,
feeding sprees last only a minute or two. Other times, wipers and white bass may churn
the surface for half an hour. And any lure in the zone is likely to catch fish. What makes this especially exciting is the
topwater action. Harris uses large, saltwater Chug Bugs, and pops the lures vigorously to
attract attention. Big wipers often body slam the lure, as if trying to stun their intended
prey. They may hit it several times during the retrieve, and Harris plays along by stopping
and quivering the lure. A vicious strike usually closes the deal. And watching the water explode
is part of the fun. So aggressive are these gamefish while feeding that small white bass
may attack lures their own size. When the fish stop biting, it means they’re
gone. Then, Harris is back on the hunt, moving all over the lake to find more feeding fish. Against the backdrop of beautiful skies that
included thunderheads, rainbows, and a gorgeous sunset, the anglers shared a teriffic fishing
experience. Both caught wipers up to about six pounds, one using a baitcaster, one using
a spinning reel. Wipers are ferocious fighters, and 10-lb. test line should be considered
minimum. It’s a good idea to use pliers when unhooking the fish, since they can flop
and jerk the large hooks into an angler. Harris has caught several 12-pounders this summer. Kansas has many good waters for catching white
bass and wipers, and techniques shown here should work anywhere for about three more
weeks. Now, when beautiful fall weather makes it great to be outdoors, wiper fishing provides
a perfect excuse. Consult the KDWPT website for fishing forecast and fishing reports by
region for more information. I’m Mike Blair for Kansas Wildlife, Parks,
and Tourism.

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