- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Wiper (white x striped) (Morone)
Wipers have dark gray or blue silver on their back and sides and have a white belly. Wipers have deep bodies that are flat, though less so than striped bass. From a profile, the body is shaped somewhat like an oval, with an arched back and a sloped belly. They have two, unconnected dorsal fins, the first with spines followed by one with soft rays. The head is small and the eyes are large.
Wipers are a hybrid created by crossing striped bass with white bass, and as a result they have features of both. Wipers have a series of small dots that form horizontal stripes running lengthwise down the side that are intermediate between the well-defined stripes of striped bass and the dim stripes of white bass. The wipers stripes are more broken than those of the striped bass and when young, the stripes are faded, and juvenile wiper are easily confused with white bass.
Like striped bass, wipers have a parallel row of teeth on the tongue, while the white bass has a single, egg-shaped mass on the tongue.
Wipers have been stocked in over 30 of the United States, with the greatest concentration being throughout the Southeast.
Wipers are mainly stocked in large lakes, reservoirs and medium- to large-sized rivers that have substantial baitfish populations. They can only occasionally be found in small lakes and ponds, as they do not thrive in extremely shallow waters or waters dense with aquatic vegetation.
Wipers can survive within a large temperature range, from 40 to 91 F, but the ideal range for growth is 77 to 81 F.
Wipers travel in schools with other wipers, white bass or striped bass, particularly with fish of similar size. They are mostly open-water fish and only come near shore or docks to chase baitfish or during spawning rituals. Frenzied school feeding occurs primarily at dawn and dusk, when the wipers are most active.
Unlike most hybrid fish species, wipers can reproduce in the wild, but only when backcrossing, which is spawning with one of its two parent species. Fishery managers have learned that they can eliminate a wiper presence in a lake by simply ceasing to stock them.
Wipers spawn in the spring, between March and May, normally when the water temperatures reach the mid to upper 50s. Spawning begins by females and males making runs to the mouths of a lakes tributaries, where current can help disperse the eggs on the lake floor.
The females are approached by multiple males and forced to the surface where the eggs are released and rapidly fertilized by the males. The sticky eggs will then drift to the bottom and remain there for only two to threes days before hatching. Eggs are not protected by either parent, as both male and female wipers migrate back to open water as soon as spawning activity ceases. Due to natural mortality, caused mainly by small fish that consume the eggs and fry, the majority of the young will not live beyond their first year.
Wipers favor the same forage as white and striped bass, feeding primarily on gizzard shad, but also silversides, yellow perch and various sunfish. They also eat insects and crustaceans. Young wipers feed on zooplankton, but switch to a diet of fish while still quite small if appropriately sized forage fish are available.
Wipers are often stocked in bodies of water where baitfish are too abundant, specifically to improve the predator-to-prey ratio. They often roam in large groups in open water in search of large schools of baitfish, lingering beneath the baitfish until heavy feeding is triggered. Little is known about what actually triggers a feeding frenzy, but like schools of white bass, wipers will often attack a school of baitfish and push them toward the surface during peak feeding activity.
Wipers are valued game fish because they inherit much of the superior size and strength of the striped bass yet are quick to strike a lure like white bass. They are also considered good table fare.
The best season to catch wipers is in spring, when they attempt to spawn, but they can provide good sport fishing year round if one is willing to take the time to find this somewhat nomadic fish.
Wipers are almost always found in deep water, except when they surface to feed on baitfish, which happens at dawn and dusk throughout late summer and fall. At these times, anglers can often locate schools of wipers visually by looking for the telltale multiple breaks in the lakes surface. Groups of seagulls feeding on baitfish at the surface will also tip the angler off as to where feeding wipers are located.
- Wipers are bred extensively in fishponds and sold commercially for both food and stocking purposes.
- Wipers have been stocked most heavily in the southeastern part of the United States.
- The world record wiper is 27 pounds, 5 ounces, caught in Arkansas in 1997.