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.
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
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
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
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.