Wiper on the Fly | Bingham Reservoir
Bingham Reservoir Fishing Report: We Need Your Help!
-Located in Parker, Bingham was Colorado’s hotspot for targeting Wiper on the fly. Please leave a comment at the bottom urging Douglas County Parks to create and enforce bag & size limits for Wiper.
View our Bingham Reservoir Photo Gallery to see just how good the fishing was before over harvesting and the lack of regulations.
Bingham Reservoir Fishing Conditions & Lake Information
The water is a perfect 50-55 and the wiper fishing should be on fire. From 1994 to 2008 it was uncommon to go out and not catch a wiper this time of year. It was hands down the best wiper fishery in the state. I know it is hard to believe that a lake in our backyard could be that good, but it really was. In 2006 Angler John Fennel set the states catch release record with a 34 1/2″ Wiper from Bingham. Sadly, things have changed at our local reservoir. I hope you will take the time to read through my assessment and think of ways in which we as an angling community can do our part to restore what was once a world class fishery.
For years Bingham Reservoir was a world class Hybrid Striper (Wiper) fishery. It was also the only place in Parker to launch a canoe, raft, or any type of boat for recreational purposes beyond fishing. In the last three years the fishery and the recreational opportunities at Bingham have disintegrated rapidly. As the only fly fishing business in Parker, Minturn Anglers (CSO) is the voice that speaks the needs and concerns of Douglas County’s fishing community. CSO is determined to use our resources and expertise to work with Douglas County Parks and the Pinery Home Owners Association to improve the fishing at Bingham Reservoir.
A wiper is a hybrid fish crossed between a White Bass and Striped Bass. As with all hybrid fish, wiper are sterile and incapable of reproduction. Wiper hold a reputation as being the hardest fighting fish in freshwater and are a thrill to catch. Wiper can be found in various Colorado reservoirs, but few lakes have been able to produce the size of fish that Bingham did. Bingham holds all the key ingredients for growing trophy wiper. There is plenty of gizzard shad, lots of open water with sandy flat bottom and little structure for baitfish to hide. Unlike other species in the bass family, wiper are an open water fish and do not relate to structure as a means of protection or to ambush forage fish. They herd baitfish from deep water to the surface and/or into shallow water.
Reasons for the Decline of Bingham’s Trophy Wiper
1. Over harvesting. Before Bingham became public there was a sense of respect and ownership for the lake amongst those who fished it. Those who fished it knew that wiper were a hybrid and thus sterile fish incapable of reproducing. The trend was to catch and release. Once the lake became public trophy fish left the lake on stringers by the truckload.
2. Until 2005 the primary forage was gizzard shad. In an effort to keep wiper off of newly stocked fish I believe the lake was stocked with an over abundance of fathead minnows.
With the declining fish population, there is now far too many fatheads for a wiper to find an artificial lure or fly in the clouds of baitfish. In principle of stocking game fish simultaneously with fatheads sounds good, but there are far better solutions in future years. The best solution is to adjust the timing of stocking. Nearly every spring I see the stocking truck show up in April or May when the water is a perfect 55 degrees. This is also when the gizzard shad move into shallow water to spawn and the wiper go into a false spawn in nearly the same area. The end result is a feeding frenzy in 1-5 feet of water just to the east of the dock where the stocking truck dumps fish.
The solution is to drop fish at times when the wiper are not in their most aggressive feeding pattern or have moved off into deeper water with the gizzards once the water reaches 65 degrees. Wiper are an open water fish designed to chase and heard schools of baitfish. They are not interested in perch, crappie, and largemouth that hold close to cover with easy access to protection. The relatively unsuccessful stocking of these other game fish has far more to do with the lack of structure and weed-lines then wiper eating them.
3. Little representation of various ages classes In 2008 we caught fish of various age classes but the majority of fish exceeded 10 pounds. Once wiper reach 10 pounds or more this indicates an old age class of fish. I believe a portion of the fish population may have died of old age.
In 2009 I expected to catch more fish in 4-6 pound range, but they were non existent. Since the smaller fish are more gullible and eager to eat I believe this size range was largely wiped out by over harvesting and the larger age class died of age.
In 2010 we saw fish in the 1-2 pound range and it was encourage to see a young age class of fish doing well. Through the summer we saw a lot of these small wiper going home with folks and it is of little surprise that this year we have not caught many fish.
What Needs to Be Done to Restore the Bingham Wiper Fishery
Unless you fished Bingham prior to 2009 there really is no way to describe just how spectacular it was. For those who have fished it in the last few years, you can only imagine my agony. All the pieces of the puzzle within the lake are still in place, but we as a fishing community need to put the pressure on Douglas County Parks and the Pinery Waterboard to give this lake the attention it deserves. We cannot do this alone and need your effort in seeing the following courses of action take place.
1. In order to protect and restore what the lake once was there needs to be regulations and authorities to enforce the regulations. I believe there are enough people in the Parker angling community saddened by what has happened to the fishery that funds could be raised to help pay for authorities to enforce regulations and patrol the lake. A park entry fee could also be charge to help offset some the costs. Neighboring cities such as Aurora have full time rangers at their lakes and I would like to see Douglas County begin to protect our recreational resources in the same way. A once a year rod fee of $60 or $10 daily use to fish the lake (same as Aurora Reservoir) and a mandatory fishing orientation. The rod fee is not uncommon and I feel would be well received if it was clear that the funds go directly back to the fishery management of the lake. It would also be required that each person attend a Bingham Reservoir Orientation. We would donate our time to conduct this orientation free of charge once a week. In this orientation we would go over all the rules and regulations, ways to reduce fish mortality and the importance of selective harvest in maintaining a healthy fishery that everyone can enjoy. We would also offer various tips for a successful day of fishing at Bingham.
2. Bag Limit for wiper 1 fish 28 inches or longer. A fish of this size is reaching the end of the road anyway, and it is better to see a fish that size go then a fish from a younger age class.
3. Flies and Artificial Lures Only. Flies and artificial lures drastically reduce mortality rates because fish do not swallow the hook nearly as deep. This will also help put an end to the endless amounts of bobbers, fishing line, and worm containers that scatter the shorelines. For the kids a fly under a bubble will catch just as many fish than a nightcrawler under a bobber.
4. Remove the restrictions on boats and wade fishing. It would require someone to monitor and inspect boats for zebra muscles and mud snails which may not be possible. However, our store would gladly donate our time to do boat and wader inspections here at the store if it would allow for regained access to the water. Before people can enter the lake they would be required to come by our store for an inspection and once completed we would issue them a card noting that they have been checked. Signs at the lake stating a hefty fine for entering the water without prior inspection would be a far greater deterrent to entering the lake than the current situation.
5. A free once a month kids fishing event at Bingham. We want to see our youth grow to love fishing on the same lake that I did. By offering more activities on Bingham we begin to create a sense of pride for the lake where people think twice before littering, and act as a secondary patrol for the welfare of the resource. Minturn Anglers would be willing to donate our entire guide staff and recruit volunteers from our customer base for these events.
Please leave your comments and suggestions for how we as a local fly shop can do our part to restore our local fishery.
Matt, – Minturn Anglers (Denver and Vail)