Hybrid striped bass, known as “wipers,” are the result of a genetic cross of striped bass and white bass. The resulting wiper is silver bodied with horizontal black stripes and a black back. Wipers are very aggressive carnivores feeding mainly on baitfish, and are some of the toughest fighting pound-for-pound freshwater fish anglers can catch.
Unable to reproduce naturally, wild populations of wipers are the result of rearing at fish hatcheries and stocking programs. Wipers feed heavily on gizzard shad, making them popular amongst both sport fishermen and biologists. Wipers are found in rivers and reservoirs across the state of Indiana.
The Tippecanoe River has a large population of wipers and continues to produce monster-sized fish. Wipers in the Tippecanoe River have reached the twenty-pound mark. The Indiana state record hybrid striped bass is listed at 22lb. 2oz. David Coffman caught it out of the Tippecanoe River in Carroll County.
Below Oakdale Dam, which is at the southern end of Lake Freeman, the Tippecanoe Rivers continues it’s southern journey to its confluence with the Wabash River at the tiny town of Americus. The water level below the dam fluctuates depending on the release from the lake, but it’s usually fishable. Public access is available on both sides of the creek.
Wipers congregate around dams due to the influx of baitfish slipping through from the lake. When an aggressive water release is taking place, meaning a lot of water is flowing through the dam, you can expect good fishing.
Oakdale Dam is an exciting place to fish, because it almost always produces some sort of a catch. Just because you’re targeting wipers, doesn’t mean that’s what you’re going to reel in. Every species of fish that swims in Lake Freeman has slipped through the dam into the river. Besides wipers, some of the more popular species caught in the tailwater are walleyes, bass, and crappie. Catfish also thrive in the river. You just never know what may end up on the end of your line.
This spot is far from a secret, but it’s rarely crowded. Fisherman spread out on the rocks along the shore, and pitch just about every kind of bait into the moving water. With baitfish pouring through the dam, fish stack up for an easy meal. Minnows are probably the most popular bait amongst the regular fisherman, but nightcrawlers and plastic swimbaits are used a lot. With the water moving rather fast just below the dam, minnows may be fished dead or alive. Spinnerbaits and shallow running crankbaits will also produce on a consistent basis.
The property on the west side of the river directly below the dam belongs to the Jefferson Township Conservation Club. I used to fish this property years ago when I was a student at Purdue. The club is a membership based non-profit organization that maintains a family oriented facility for fishing and other diverse uses. The club caps its membership at 1,000 members per year. If you plan to fish the river below Oakdale Dam, then joining the club is something you should consider. You can find out more through the club’s website www.jtcconline.com.
Once you’re finished fishing, or if you need to take a break for a bit, the Oakdale Dam Inn is a great restaurant and bar. Their motto is, “Best Catfish by a Dam Site.” The catfish is good, but I’m more of a fan of the smelt appetizer, which I usually couple with the Bluegill dinner and a frosty mug of Miller Light.