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Unfolding the mystery of Lake Monroe wipers
Spaulding Outdoors
By Jack Spaulding

In the murky depths of Monroe Lake, a bio-mystery unfolds. Indiana Department of Natural Resources biologists are unraveling the migration habits of hybrid striped bass, a brutal predatory gamefish commonly called wipers, using radio transmitters and U. S. Department of Defense GPS satellites.

In April, DNR fisheries biologist Kevin Hoffman and his team implanted electronic transmitters in 30 wipers. Every two weeks, the wiper team races around the entire 11,000-acre lake near Bloomington, Ind. tracking the free-roaming crossbred fish.

Biologists have some hunches about the movements of these open-water fish. Wiper anglers have had success catching wipers near the dam and along beaches in early spring and late fall. However, proven wiper-whereabout-facts are scarce. The DNR wiper team’s research has already yielded surprises.

“There is not a lot of scientific literature on hybrid striped bass habitat selection and movement, so this study is breaking some new ground,” said Brian Schoenung, South Region Fisheries Supervisor. “The first two tracking runs have surprised us with just how far these critters roam. These fish use the entire lake in the same way you use your backyard.”

Schoenung said the tracking team found fish all the way up to Crooked Creek Recreation Area several days after tagging the fish near the dam. Some fish moved into the upper reaches of the lake and back.

“We didn’t expect the wipers to use the upper end of Monroe Lake as much as they do,” said Schoenung.

To track the wipers, Hoffman and his team use a boat specially outfitted to receive signals from the transmitters in the fish. The transmitter is placed inside the fish and has an antenna protruding from the wiper’s belly.

Every other week, all transmitters emit signals; and the tracking team works quickly to get accurate wiper data, often motoring around the lake at a good clip, sometimes late into the evening and through idle zones.

“The goal,” Schoenung said, “is to determine what the thermal, dissolved oxygen and habitat preferences are for wipers, so we can tell beforehand if a stocking in another lake is likely to be successful.”

Wipers are popular gamefish stocked by the Indiana DNR into several Indiana shallow, warm reservoirs to help control prolific gizzard shad populations.

The best lakes in Indiana for adding wiper poundage to your stringer are Monroe Lake or lakes Freeman and Shafer near Monticello. Big wipers are also often caught below Ohio River dams.

Wipers will hit a wide variety of cast or trolled lures or baits. They also have a preference for light-colored Clouser Minnow style flies. The powerful fish are a genetic cross between white bass and striped bass and resemble their temperate bass cousins, striped bass, white bass and yellow bass.

My good friend and Indiana conservation officer, Dean Shadley fly fishes on Lake Monroe, and finds the wipers to be formidable opponents. One of his hot spots is the area right off of the dam, and he uses a white streamer.

“For every six you hook, you might land one or two. When these bruisers hit, it is like snagging a freight train. If you aren’t ready for the hit, the fish can rip the rod right out of your hand!”

Youth skeet teams compete
Youth shotgun sports teams from Indiana took their best shots this weekend – with some qualifying to compete in their sport’s upcoming national championship – at the Scholastic Clay Target Program’s (SCTP) Indiana Skeet Shooting Championships.

The competition, held June 10 in St. Joe, featured some of the state’s top young skeet shooters in SCTP’s senior and junior divisions. All participating teams earned spots at the upcoming SCTP national skeet championships slated for July 14-16 in Rush, N.Y.

Other upcoming SCTP events in Indiana include the state trapshooting championships on July 11 at Indiana Gun Club in Fortville. Competitors at the event will qualify for the SCTP national trapshooting championships, August 8 and 9 in Sparta, Ill.

SCTP is a cooperative effort between the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the governing bodies for trapshooting, skeet shooting and sporting clays - the Amateur Trapshooting Association, National Skeet Shooting Association and National Sporting Clays Association.

The program is designed to instill participants with safe firearms handling, commitment, responsibility, leadership and teamwork. Nearly 40 states and more than 8,000 youths take part in SCTP.

Nationally, SCTP has seen phenomenal growth. In 2005 alone, overall participation in the program grew by over 50 percent, not to mention an 84 percent increase among female participants. Last year, the program attracted a record 1,564 young shooters from around the nation to the SCTP National Trapshooting Championships in Vandalia, Ohio. Its skeet and sporting clays nationals also continue to gain popularity.

Results of the SCTP Indiana Skeet Shooting Championships held June 10 at St. Joe Valley Conservation Club, St. Joe are:

•Senior Experienced (Grades 9-12): First place - Callin Temperly, Nineveh; Abe Shelley, Mooresville, and Luke Broderick, Martinsville, with a team score of 566 of 600 targets. Second place - Landon Wall, Whiteland; Matt Cunningham, Greenwood, and Nick Cannon-Mason, Whiteland, with a team score of 562.

•Senior Novice (Grades 9-12): First place - Timothy Baker, LaPorte; Tanner Brooks, Walkerton; and Anthony Erickson, Walkerton, with a team score of 559. Second place - Daniel Borton, North Liberty; Casey Dankert, Walkerton, and Adam Mann, Walkerton, with a team score of 470. Third place - Michael Masters, Whiteland; Brandon Brooks, Franklin, and Jared Michael Aydelotte, Greenwood, with a team score of 463.

•Junior Experienced (Grades 6-8): First place - Nick Bryant, Franklin; Kyle Jason Sims, Thorntown, and John Sublett, Lebanon, with a team score of 509.

•Junior Novice (Grades 6-8): First place - Brandon Boswell, Tyner; Tyler Potthoff, Grovertown, and Bryannah Stull, Walkerton, with a team score of 494.

For more information, visit the National Shooting Sports website at: www.nssf.org/sctp

This farm news was published in the June 28, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

6/28/2006