Tom Bellomo only caught one fish on his Oct. 31 trip to Utah’s Newcastle Reservoir. He’s not complaining, though. That one fish was an 11-pound 14-ounce wiper (white bass/striped bass hybrid) that turned out to be the new state record for the species.

Bellomo was fishing with his father-in-law, and they were seeking a few fish for Christmas Eve dinner. They began by fishing a steep rocky bank that often holds smallmouth bass, and Bellomo started with one of his favorite bass lures, a Bomber Model A in a Molting Craw color pattern.

“It was only my second or third cast when the fish hit and took off with it,” Bellomo said “It fought like crazy.”

Bellomo and his father-in-law each had an old scale, and the fish registered between 11 and 12 pounds on both scales. Bellomo thought the record was in that neighborhood, but couldn’t confirm that with his phone because he had no cell signal on the lake. Since they wanted fish to eat anyway, he went ahead and kept the big wiper. Meanwhile, he kept to himself the notion that it could be a record fish.

They fished the same area for another hour or so, hoping to find more wipers or maybe some smallmouths, and then targeted bass in other areas before switching to trolling for rainbow trout. Bellomo’s father-in-law caught half a dozen or so trout, but Bellomo never caught another fish.

After they got off the water and into cell range, Bellomo checked and learned existing record was 11 pounds, 2 ounces. He knew he had a chance, so they took it to a grocery store for proper weighing and contacted the Utah Division of Natural Resources to have the catch certified.

“I’ve been fishing Bomber crankbaits probably since before I was in high school,” said Bellomo who has an extensive Bomber collection. “Those crawfish crankbaits work really well around here for largemouths, smallmouth and other species, like trout.

The fact that they also work for wipers is no surprise based on something Bellomo learned from a fisheries biologist. Wipers were originally stocked to help control Newcastle Reservoir’s shiner population, which they have done quite effectively, and they now feed extensively on the lake’s plentiful crawfish.

Bellomo fishes a Bomber Model A on medium-sized spinning tackle, usually with 8- or 10 pound test, and he likes to move it along quickly. “I usually reel it almost as fast as I can reel. Not quite, but pretty fast, and I’ve found that fast retrieve works really well,” he said.