Alabama Striped Bass.

Striped bass were first introduced into Alabama in 1965, Several lakes in Alabama are noted for their striped bass fishing, including Smith Lake and Lake Martin. Lake Weiss and all the Coosa River system reservoirs have striped bass fishing opportunities also.

Best Places To Catch
Striped Bass In Alabama.

Smith Lake

Lake Martin

Lake Weiss

Lake Lewis Smith

Coosa river


Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division began stocking Atlantic-strain striped bass on a limited basis in Lake Martin on the Tallapoosa River in 1965. The goal behind the stockings was to diversify the fishery and to provide anglers the opportunity to catch a trophy fish. The program expanded in 1969 to five reservoirs and eventually peaked to include 24 reservoirs -- seven of which are still stocked with striped bass annually. Weiss Lake, the uppermost impoundment on the Coosa River in Alabama, is in the northeast corner of the state, approximately 29 miles below the confluence of the Etowah and Oostanaula Rivers at Rome, Georgia. Lake Weiss was stocked with striped bass in 1972, 74, 80, 85 and 86. During those years, a total of 131,535 Atlantic-strain stripers were introduced. Concurrent with the Alabama stockings, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR) stocked approximately 4.7 million Atlantic-strain striped bass in the upper Coosa River drainage basin between 1973-92

Today Striped bass populations in Alabama are a mixture of Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast fish. The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division has initiated an aggressive program to reestablish Gulf Coast populations in the Mobile basin, primarily below the Fall Line. Native populations probably still enter the Mobile Delta and lower Alabama and Tombigbee drainages. Landlocked populations of Gulf Coast fish occur in the Chattahoochee River above Jim Woodruff Dam and in Lake Lewis Smith. Most individuals in the Tennessee River are probably Atlantic Coast fish, although Gulf Coast fish were introduced into Wheeler Reservoir from 1992 to 1994.

Striped bass began appearing more frequently in angler creels and standardized gill net samples in Weiss Lake during the early 1990s. Speculation at the time was that either natural reproduction was occurring or emigration was taking place from reservoirs upstream in Georgia. A review of GADNR striped bass stocking records indicated that GADNR stocked Gulf-strain striped bass exclusively in the upstream impoundments of Carters and Allatoona in 1993-94. Electrofishing samples in March 1994 netted four one-year-old striped bass near the Alabama-Georgia border. Mitochondrial-DNA analysis (mtDNA) revealed that all four were Atlantic-strain fish. These results prompted ADWFF to conclude that natural reproduction of striped bass was occurring in the upper Coosa River. Since 1997, Dr. Bill Davin (Berry College, Rome, GA) has documented that striped bass are indeed spawning in the Oostanaula River near Rome. He has collected thousands of eggs heading southwesterly into the Coosa River toward Alabama.

The increasing striped bass population in Weiss Lake prompted ADWFF to conduct a diet study. Four hundred fifty striped bass stomachs were examined. Of those 450, one hundred fifteen had empty stomachs. The remaining 335 stripers had a total of 2,699 prey items in their stomachs; 2,522 were shad (93.4 percent), 160 were unidentifiable fish remains (5.9 percent), 6 were crappie (0.2 percent), 5 were bluegill (0.2 percent), 3 were minnows (0.1 percent), 2 were freshwater drum (0.07 percent) and one was a crawfish (0.04 percent). These results were similar to other studies conducted in Oklahoma, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Utah and Tennessee that concluded that sport fish are not a major prey item of striped bass.

Striped bass grow to gigantic sizes. Alabama’s state record stands at 55 pounds, while the world rod and reel record is 78 pounds. Striped bass can feed on large gizzard shad, which few other predators utilize efficiently. Competition with other important sport fish, such as largemouth bass and crappie, is limited. Recent research by the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries indicates stripers feed almost exclusively on shad and live primarily in open waters.

A diet study of 442 Weiss Lake striped bass indicated less than one percent of the stripers’ stomachs had remains of sport fish. States such as South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Virginia and Oklahoma have conducted studies with similar results and concluded that sport fish are not a primary food item of striped bass.

Since 1979, biologists in the Fisheries Section of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries have been investigating this phenomenon at several reservoirs statewide. Ultrasonic and radio-telemetry tagging of stripers have been used to study the phenomenon. Data gathered in these studies indicate that striped bass begin concentrating in thermal refuges along the Alabama and Coosa River systems as early as late May when water temperatures climb into the high 70 and low 80 range. During the remaining months of summer, as ambient water temperatures continue to climb higher, even above 90, stripers may literally stack on top of each other in an attempt to get into the coolest water possible.

Biologists have collected as many as 43 saltwater striped bass in an area no larger than an average size bedroom. Many fish, particularly the larger ones, were in poor condition with slack bellies and parasitic or bacterial infections being the rule rather than the exception.

In cool water areas with low oxygen level, fish may show no interest in feeding. Although a few dead stripers have been observed floating near shorelines, Alabama has been fortunate to escape the massive die-offs of big stripers such as those reported in several southern states such as Tennessee and Louisiana. Research showing striped bass require cool thermal refuges has led fisheries managers in Alabama to stock hybrid striped bass in many of our reservoirs, which have little or no cool water available during the summer months.

The hybrid striped bass that is stocked in Alabama is a cross between the female striped bass and the male white bass. Although hybrids do not grow as large as stripers, they tolerate warmer waters and are just as fun to catch. Reservoirs that are relatively shallow and fertile with little or no cool water available appear to be better suited to the hybrids. Other reservoirs, such as Smith Lake and Lake Martin, which usually have abundant cool and well-oxygenated waters during warm summer months, are suitable for striper growth and survival. The striper fishery in these lakes can provide world class angling throughout the entire year.

Best Places To Catch Striped Bass In Alabama

Stocking rates for striped bass and hybrid striped bass may vary depending upon the reservoir, but usually fall between two and five fish per acre. Many factors are considered when determining stocking rates including forage abundance, predator interactions, historical fisheries, thermal refuge availability, and angler catch rates. Smith Lake, located in north central Alabama, is approximately 22,000 acres in size and receives an annual stocking of about 66,000 Gulf-strain striped bass fingerlings or about 3-fish per acre. These annual stockings seem to be adequate to replace losses due to fishing and natural mortality without impacting any other native sport fish species. Landlocked striped bass will occasionally spawn in freshwater reservoirs or rivers when environmental conditions are optimum. Biologists have concluded that natural reproduction is occurring in the upper Coosa River near Rome, Georgia resulting in large numbers of naturally produced striped bass showing up at Weiss Reservoir in northeast Alabama and other Coosa River impoundments.

Best Baits To Catch Striped Bass

Live gizzard shad approximately 7-9" in size
Large artificial plugs (Redfin or Rapala) cast at sunrise or sunset
Slow trolling with large spoon, buck-tail jigs or mirror lures
Tailwaters below dams during the spring and fall months
Upper tributaries of reservoirs in winter and spring months
Deep water in clear lakes near submerged humps or islands in summer

With the introduction of striped bass and hybrid striped bass into many Alabama waters, anglers have had to learn new techniques for catching these fish. Perhaps the most popular method for catching stripers is suspending live baitfish such as gizzard shad over an area where fish congregate or are holding. In tailwaters, anglers can drift-fish live bait or buck-tailed jigs with the current; in reservoirs the best method is slowly trolling shad over a school of hungry striped bass. If you prefer artificial baits, a magnum Rapala or Cordell Redfin cast into an area where stripers are aggressively feeding on the surface will usually reward you with some tackle busting strikes. Whatever method you chose to use, catching a striped bass from one of Alabama’s scenic rivers or reservoirs will bring many fond memories for years to come - and perhaps a nice conversation piece to hang on the wall.

ADWFF was also concerned that the influx of striped bass would impact the native sport fishes through competition for food. Data collected by Auburn University and ADWFF personnel have shown no adverse affects on the crappie or largemouth bass populations in Weiss Lake. Also, ADWFF has documented movement of these naturally reproduced striped bass from northwest Georgia all the way down the Coosa River to Lake Jordan.


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