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Alabama Coosa River Spawning Striped Bass

The Upper Coosa River Basin is home to one of only a few naturally-reproducing populations of landlocked-striped bass,. It is also home to one of the best striped bass fishing locations in Georgia and Alabama during the spring spawning runs up the Coosa, Etowah and Oostanaula.

Alabama Coosa River Lake levels at Weiss, Heny, Jordan, Logan, Lay, Mitchell, Bouldin

Alabama Power's automated Reservoir Information System
Alabama Power's toll-free Reservoir Information System at 1-800-LAKES-11 (525-3711), you can access information on lakes, including generation schedules of our hydroelectric facilities, current lake levels and river and stream flows. .

Striped Bass Feeding Patterns Study

Article reprinted with permission from Lawley, M. Barnett (DCNR Commissioner)
Thanks to the staff at Alabama DNR for their research and assistance.

Alabama striper fish

Alabama Stripers

CONSERVATION NEWS Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division
Steve Smith, District Fisheries Biologist - Eastaboga, Alabama

Alabamas Self sustaining Striper population

Been fishing on the Coosa River lately?

Maybe you've been throwing the rattletrap cast after cast when all of a sudden you will get a strike that you swear will be the new state or even the world record only to find that you landed a saltwater striper. this scenerio is occuring more frequently on Coosa river reservoirs. Why? The Alabama Division of Wildlife Fisheries (ADWFF) hads documented natural reproduction of the striped bass in the Upper Coosa river basin. Evidence shows that these fish are well on their way to establishing a self-sustaing population on Weiss Lake, a feat that has occurred in only a handful of landlocked river systems. ADWFF began stocking atlantic strain Striped Bass on a limited basis in Lake Martin on the talapoosa river in 1965. The goal in 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 twenty four 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 confluennce of the Etowah and Oostanaulah rivers at Rome, Georgia. lake weiss was stocked with striped bassin 1972, 74, 80, 85 and 86. During those years, a total of 131,535 Atlantic - strain stripers were introduced. Concurrent with al;abama 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 and 1992. Striped Bass began appearing more recently in angler creels and standardized gill-net samples in Weiss Lake during the early 1990's. Speculation at the time was that either natural reproduction was occuring or emigration was taking place from reservoirs upstream in Georgia. A review of the GADNR striped bass stocking records indicated that GADNR stocked Gulf strain striped bass exclusively in the upstream impoundments of Carters and Allatoona in 1993 and 94. Electrofishing samples in March of 1994 netted four one year old striped bass near the Alabama - Georgia border. Mitochondrial DNA analasys (mtDNA) revealed that all four were Atlantic - strain fish. These results prompted ADWFF to conclude that natural reproduction of striped bass was occuring in the upper Coosa River. Since 1997, Dr. Bill Davin (Berry College, Rome Ga.) has documented that striped bass are indeed spawning in the Oostanuala 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 and fifty striped bass stomachs were examined. Of those 450, one hundred and fifteen had empty stomachs. The remaining 335 striped bass stomachs had a total of 2,699 prey items in their stomachs, 2,522 were shad (93.4%), 160 were unidentifiable fish remains (5.9%), 6 were crappie (0.2%), 5 were bluegill (0.2%), 3 were minnows (0.1%), 2 were freshwater drum (0.07%), and one was a crawfish (0.04%). These results were similar to other studies conducted in Oklahoma, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Utah and Tennessee concluded that sport fish are not a major prey of striped bass. 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 personel have shown no adverse effects 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. Take a friend with you the next time you fish the Coosa River, because you will certainly catch a lifetime of memories.

alabama freshwater fishery

 

 

Flows

Alabama Power currently has mandatory minimum flow releases from Jordan Dam for whitewater boating and aquatic enhancement of the Coosa and Alabama Rivers below the dam. Alabama Power has been operating Jordan Dam under minimum flow requirements since the late 1960's. These have been modified from time to time with the most recent modification implemented in May 2000.

  • From April 1 through May 31, Alabama Power releases continuous base flows of 4,000 cfs for 18 hours per day from 3:00 p.m. through 9 a.m. For the remaining 6 hours, Alabama Power should release an 8,000 cfs pulse flow from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m.
  • Beginning June 1 through June 15, Alabama Power reduces the continuous 4,000 cfs base flow at a rate of 66.7 cfs per day, and the daily 8,000 cfs pulse flow at a rate of 133.3 cfs per day.
  • From June 16 through June 30, Alabama Power ceases release of the daily pulse flow but continues to release the continuous base flow reducing it to 66.7 cfs per day.
  • From July 1 through March 31, Alabama Power releases a continuous minimum base flow of 2,000 cfs regardless of inflow.

On weekends only from June 16 through October 31, Alabama Power releases flows of either 4,000, 6,000, or 8,000 cfs continuously from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The River

     Before the dams, the Coosa from where Lay Lake is today all the way to Wetumpka was one big series of impassible shoals, the most famous known as the Devil’s Staircase.  Most of the shoals today lie underneath the lakes, but those that remain below Jordan dam create a unique fishing opportunity for the fly fisherman in Central Alabama.  From the dam, the river flows southeast approximately 6 miles in a straight line to the Highway 14 Bridge where it makes a 90° turn to the Southwest as it flows into Wetumpka.  For the most part, the river bottom is made up of medium to large gravel, boulders and bedrock.  Between the dam and Gold Star Park in Wetumpka,

Shoals - Below each of the major shoals there are some deep, fast runs where the river pours over the largest gaps in the ledges.  These are the most productive places to catch Striped Bass and Hybrids.  These are deep, fast runs where fish hold tight to bottom structure 6 to 10 ten below the surface.

 

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