Bingham Reservoir Wiper: A Call to Action

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

Bingham Reservoir: Master Angler Wiper Caught and Released 4/30/2007

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.

Broken Stripes

James Spicer with a Nice Wiper. April 20, 2008

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, Colorado Skies Outfitters  (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.

Understanding Wiper

Wiper on a White Zonker

Wiper loved to eat "fast food" like a White Zonker

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

C&R State Record Wiper from Bingham Caught in 2006

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.

Blitzed Gizzard Shad

 

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 theory the idea 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.

Caught Stocking Day 2008. Don't stock at times when wiper are already in shallow water

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.

3-5lb class was well represented in 2008 and should be trophies by now. Where did they all go?

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

Baby Wiper Caught 5/22/2011. We Hold the Future of Our Local 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.  Colorado Skies Outfitters 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.

Much Thanks!

Theo Anest
-Colorado Skies Outfitters

20 Responses to Bingham Reservoir Wiper: A Call to Action

  1. scott nelson says:

    Theo I totally agree. I have seen this same type of issues on lakes I grew up on and once the fishing community banded together and regs, similar to the ones you were suggesting were put in place we saw great success with the balancing of population and size between the species. Getting the youth involved is a huge and much needed agenda. Anything you guys need let me know.

  2. JP says:

    Theo,

    From ice off until now at the end of May 2011 a friend of mine and I have fished almost every week at Bingham. I fished flies, lures, top waters, rapala’s, jigs and bait in the hopes of seeing one of these majestic fish. One day we fished 6 hours with only 1 bite. I have fished sun up, sun down, middle of the day, full moon, no moon all in the hopes of figuring out what is going on.

    My fishing partner caught and released a wiper that was very close to the state record. I have a picture and will stop by the shop and show you. That being said for hours and hours and hours and hours of fishing we have only caught 1 wiper (30″ or better), 1 small mouth (14″), 2 walleye (12″ and 19″). If I was not so passionate about fishing I would have given up hours ago but I keep hoping the bite will turn on as temps rise but that is not happening. I did see another angler catch and release a 1-2 pound wiper last week right near the shore to the right of the dock, but that is the only other wiper I have seen. I saw a picture (or I would not have believed it) of a 26″ walleye caught and killed 2 weeks ago, he hammered the jig so hard it was in his gills. I am in support of anything you want to do to assist with this fishery as it has such potential but the nonesense of taking the fish has got to stop. I had so many people ask us why we released that huge wiper?? BECAUSE I WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN!!! JUST LIKE A GREENBACK OR A TROPHY WALLEYE. I have pictures and we are having a reproduction of that monster wiper made. You can buy fish at the store.

  3. fcurry says:

    I have been in Parker for a long time, graduated from Ponderosa and watched this town grow through the years. In high school we would hit “the Pinery” after school on our way home. I have yet to land Wiper out there and at this point i don’t know that i ever will!

    We are lucky to have shops like CSO out here that will take action to improve out local fishery, it seems to me that a lot of the concerns brought up in the article can be addressed and everyone would benefit from it. If CSO needs any help with this please feel free to ask, i am in.

  4. paul says:

    Douglas near Fort Collins was the same way in 2004. We caught several fish over 15#. We petitioned the state about lowering the limit and watching who was fishing… during May, there were people essentially camped out there 24 hours a day, someone would come and take their fish, and they would go back to catching their 10 fish limit of 10# fish. We were more than angry. Its disgusting to see a stringer that must weigh 150#.
    CDOW said its managed as a put and take and that was about the end of it. 2007 is the last we know of any significant catches, and they are no longer stocked there, tho i hear of some caught every March in the inlet.
    I am not against keeping some fish, but cleaning out a lake and moving on to the next one is ridiculous. Douglas was 5 minutes from my house…..I usually drive 5 hours or more to wiper fish….and you can only keep 2 there.
    Good Luck
    Paul
    Good Luck with

  5. JP says:

    I know you have been busy getting gold medals but do you mind sharing your perspective about the recent catches at Bingham? Congrats! I loved the skagit system @ Powell but I like fishing alone so I can think and concentrate and two other guys without the patience to keep trying yielded nothing with the fly rod. I snapped my spinning rod in half and I am not replacing it. :)
    The sinking head for the skagit rig snapped during my second cast. I was wondering if we could send it back. It seemed like the manufacturing since I was not doing anything to cause it, if not maybe we can fix it?

  6. NoNick says:

    I ran across this page while searching for something else and thought I would post my 2 cents. First of all, I commend your efforts. It’s hard to argue about the fact that Bingham Lake produced trophy fish as the pictures are proof. I do believe, however, there are more constructive solutions to Bingham’s problems than simply pricing it out of reach or creating a plethora of hoops to jump through for the majority of decent people who use the lake.

    The first that thing needs to be done, as you stated in this article, is to at least put limits on all fish or make Bingham catch and release fly and lure only for all fish excluding panfish. I believe the way to make people take notice of catch and release or a small bag limit is a fine. I’d like to see a minimum $250 fine. For bigger violations, the more the better. I don’t see why Douglas County parks or even the Pinery water authority couldn’t have poaching signs and a phone line to report violations. Better yet, I believe that an enforceable system for volunteer “rangers” or rule enforcers would be worthwhile in lieu of the county hiring someone, which they aren’t going to do in this economy. When you have plain clothes people who earn the authority through some kind of rudimentary training who are able to enforce fines by issuing tickets, as I suggested above, the fines become even more of a deterrent because violators never know who is there that is able to enforce the fine. This is especially true when everybody has a phone with a camera to back up his or her claim of a violation.

    An entry fee of $10 is too expensive, as is a yearly fee of $60. Many responsible people who enjoy fishing at Bingham, including myself, can’t afford a fee that steep. There are many people that use that lake on a regular basis for non-fishing activities. What will they pay to get in? They also use the toilets, throw garbage on the shore and in the lake, etc. It’s not fair for the fisherman to bear the brunt of the maintenance of the park when the people that use the lake for other purposes are more numerous. I’m sure residents of the Pinery don’t want to pay a dime to use Bingham Lake, and frankly, I don’t blame them.

    While I am not for a lake entry fee or orientation to actually fish the lake, I am for an orientation and fee to use waders or a belly boat at Bingham. I think a reasonable license fee to wade or float the lake would be worthwhile, as would a one time orientation about the “invasive aquatic species”. Limit these licenses to a certain number if need be, but I honestly don’t want to stop at your store, as nice as it may be, every single time I want to use my float tube at Bingham. Many people, including myself, would be more than capable of checking our own equipment after being instructed on what to check for. Perhaps the Pinery water authority or Douglas County Parks could conduct this class in the same way hunter safety courses are conducted.

    As for Aurora, those lakes are involved with the DOW, as evidenced by the fishing license requirement. I believe the entry fees are too much, and I can guarantee you 100% there are still people that violate the rules despite the steep entry fees and ranger presence. It’s human nature, unfortunately.

    Bingham Lake has an overabundance of forage fish. If the Wipers can’t keep up, why not stock Pike or Musky? I believe Woodmoor Lake in Monument has Pike and it is a privately run lake. If Palmer Lake and Monument Lake can sustain Pike, I’m sure Bingham can. Not only would there be awesome Wiper fishing, the Pike or Musky fishing would be great also with such an abundant food supply.

    I like the idea of doing something to keep this lake from becoming a dud, and I appreciate your efforts in doing so. If you would, please post updates about this for those of us that have now bookmarked your page due to our concerns with Bingham Lake.

  7. JP says:

    I guess the major question is, does Parker care?

    I am wondering how the gentleman above can afford fishing if he cannot afford 10 or 60 dollar priveldge fee to fish a lake that should otherwise be private. Rods, reels, flies, tying equipment, waders etc… thousands… chance to catch a wiper less than 20 minutes from my house, priceless.

    • NoNick says:

      Ten dollars a day? 60 dollars a year? As I stated, I believe that’s too much. You can fish for trophy warmwater fish on local military installations for a 1/3 of that price. If the Pinery wanted to make it a privilege to fish Bingham, all they have to do is make it private again and keep the non-residents out. That’s too expensive unless there is a bag limit of one trophy fish per year that is somehow regulated either by the county, Parker, or the Pinery HOA. A fee like that better include belly boat access as well, and not the kind that requires a 15 mile round trip to get my float tube inspected every single time I want to use it. The answer to Bingham’s problems is not pricing it into a fishing country club to suit only one group’s needs, but the answer is making smart decisions that benefit not only the lake but ALL the responsible fisherman that utilize it. We also can’t forget about the other people that use it for non-fishing activities. If there is any entry fee, they also need to pay it.

      Not everyone has, wants, or can afford “thousands of dollars” tied up in fishing equipment- fly or otherwise. Frankly, the fish can’t tell the difference and most people don’t really care what someone else spends on their gear. A desire for responsible management at Bingham doesn’t come only from those who spend thousands on flies, rods, and reels. It also comes from those of us who are sick and tired of the abuse of natural resources at Bingham because those who manage it don’t have the knowledge, time, or desire to put some common sense regulations in place. How hard would it be to make it C&R for all species except sunfish? This could be done literally overnight. All it would take is to print up some temporary signs until the permanent ones arrive at the lake. Put a phone number for poaching on the signs, and done..Problem on it’s way to being solved. This isn’t rocket science.

  8. It took me time to read all the tips, but I clearly loved the post. It proved to be very helpful to me and I’m certain to all of the commenters here!
    Welcome to my blog : [url=http://www.neckbackpainrelief.org]Joint pain relief[/url]

  9. JP says:

    And then… last night I stopped by the lake. I wanted to keeep working the skagit system and see if I could get more comfortable with it. #1 it was hard to even find some shore line it was so crowded @ 5:30pm then a guy came right in on me and took crappie after crappie after crappie after crappie. He had a bucket full that he was taking home to eat at the end of 2 hours. He said he does that several times a week and so do his friends… Soon there will be nothing letf in that lake. I caught one small perch, too small to be a stocker so hopefully they are reproducing. I left at 8:30 and there were still about 6 people just arriving to fish. hopefully when the new resevior opens in parker it will take some pressure off of Bingham.

  10. Alexander Zilo says:

    Parker does care very much and it is unfair to claim directly or indirectly that Parker does not care.

    • Theo says:

      It’s been a while since I read this, post but please reread. I don’t think we said that Parker “doesn’t care.” We simply said in our post that the regulations or lack their of are somewhat of a free for all in terms of fishing.

  11. JZ says:

    It’s very easy to say Parker doesn’t care. I have sent several emails to various Douglas County and Parker officials asking questions and suggesting bag limits and enforcement and I haven’t gotten a single response.

    You would think the powers that be would see the financial benefit of bag and size limits. The fewer fish that are taken, the fewer fish that need to be stocked. Wipers are very expensive to stock compared to many other species. I would think they would want to protect their investment rather than see it leave on a stringer. I don’t even think they would need to hire a full time ranger. A sign with the rules along with the number to the County Sherrif’s office would probably do the trick. There’s plenty of responsible anglers that wouldn’t have a problem calling in people for keeping illegal fish. The County would benefit from the increased ticket revenue and the person being ticketed will be a lot less likely to keep illegal fish if they knew that it might cost them a steep fine. And yes, the Police can write tickets for wildlife violations.

    Good luck with your quest to improve Bingham, it would be nice to see it turned back into the awesome fishery that it once was.

  12. Paul says:

    I don’t believe that adding a user fee would help in this situation. The problem seems to be too much fishing pressure for the amount of fish present. A small daily bag limit would reduce the people taking large numbers of fish out for food, leaving a higher quality fishery. Having very strict enforcement would inimidate those intent on breaking the rules.

    • Bryan says:

      A user fee and some oversight will likely keep a lot of the “lake rapers” away. Outlandish thing to say, I know, but it’d bet I’m right.

      If there were enough dedicated anglers willing to volunteer their time to this project, it could be, at the very least, a “cost neutral” deal for the water district and the county.

      I fished Bingham as a resident from 1989 (at age 13) to 2001. I caught my first largemouth there and got bass fever. I was a lucky kid to have a place like Bingham nearby. I remember accidently catching wipers from the FIRST stocking when they were just little fellas and starting to grow their “shoulders”. I watched the crappie population get bigger year to year….and this place had a large population of BIG freakin’ crappie in it’s day.

      I moved back to the area in 2008, well after the place became a “no holds barred” fishery, and now what was once a great lake is anything. Cans, grocery bags, discarded line, nightcrawler tubs litter the place…it’s a shame. And the fishing is even worse!!

      @Theo – I tried to send you a note via your ‘contact us’ page on the CSO site. I’m not sure it even got through by the way the page was acting after I clicked ‘Send’. I’m interested to hear about any kind of progress you’ve made, and offer my help that I can.

      Bryan

  13. NoNick says:

    I thought this was dead..Glad it’s not, FWIW.

    I sent an email to the director of Douglas County Parks a month or so back. While I voiced my displeasure with a possible user fee for Bingham Lake, I implored him to do something about the “no limit” bag limit. I received quite a lengthy response from him that was summed up by “I do not foresee anything changing in the near future. We will continue to make contact with fisherman and encourage catch and release, but that will be the extent of our involvement”. I actually appreciate the fact that he responded, but I don’t agree with his reasoning behind things not changing. I’m not going to copy and paste all the management hoo-ha here because it was a private email, but it’s a little more complex than it appears. That being said, it in no way should preclude the powers that be from stopping the abuse of people filling buckets and stringers with fish.

    I believe there is strength in numbers with this, and the more people that scream for some kind of bag limit, the more likely they are to listen. In my opinion, aside from fees, belly boats, inspections, classes, etc., the FIRST and ONLY thing that should be attempted at this time is to get the people in charge to at least budge on a bag limit. They are far more likely to consider this than they are to completely revamp everything about the lake in one foul swoop. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Here’s the email of the Parks Director if anyone wants to follow up with their own email. Like I said, they will more than likely NOT do much, but the least you can do is scream for a bag limit. That can be changed with a sign, for crying out loud. It doesn’t take some legislative act.

    RBurkhar@douglas.co.us

  14. Scott Thompson says:

    So many of our lake treasures in Colorado fall prey to overharvest and poor management. Anyone who fished Spinney Mtn reservoir in the late 1980′s will remember. Please do the right thing and find a way to get this done. If you do, I will personally write about the success and see that others at major news organizations do the same. Come on DC. Do the right thing here.

  15. T Casey says:

    Any new updates for Bingham this coming year? I fished it in late September 11′ and got skunked. Either DOW or the city that day were plucking carp from the lake using a small boat. The carp population is insane in that lake! It seemed like every 5 mins I would look over and they were pulling a carp from the water. I wonder if the carp are having a negative impact on the lake as well?

    • Theo says:

      We’ll see what happens once the water warms. Was out yesterday casting and more then half the lake still has ice. Keep ya posted though!

      • T Casey says:

        Thanks Theo! That lake was a great little wiper fishery. Hopefully it turns around this year and limits will be set. Keep me posted. Also, one of these days I’ll have to sign up with one of you guys for a South Platte trip. I stopped in your shop last August and bought some flies and I think it was James that set me up with what I needed. He was dialed in and knew the patterns that I needed for a quick day trip along the South Platte. I went up and hammered 12 trout ranging from 8″-14″ with his recommendations! I don’t get to get out much cuz of work and family so I don’t get to study the streams. His knowledge of the the hatch along the river and rigging made for a great day. I also enjoy your site with the updated reports as I check them weekly, great job! Thanks!

Leave a Reply