The fisheries departments from Georgia and Alabama have combined efforts to stock 30,000 striped bass fingerlings in the Coosa River above Lake Weiss in the past month. The striper stocking, the first in this lake and river system since the mid 1980s, will supplement an existing population that is one of the few landlocked, freshwater populations of striped bass that naturally reproduce when conditions in the river are right.
Striped bass are a saltwater fish that migrate into freshwater rivers to spawn. Females release hundreds of thousands of eggs into the flowing river, which need to tumble gently and drift downstream for two to three days after fertilization. Too much or too little river flow, and the striped bass eggs won’t develop and hatch.
In Georgia and Alabama, striped bass are stocked into reservoirs, and the Coosa River is one of the only rivers above a reservoir with conditions that allow the stripers to sometimes reproduce. While the Coosa River striped bass can reproduce when river flows and turbidity (amount of silt and stain) allow, the population seems to have experienced a decline in recent years.
This 2018 stocking is a cooperative effort between the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR) and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR).
Weiss may be best known for its crappie and bass fishing, but for many years it has also provided a popular striped bass fishery. Striped bass were first stocked into this system in the late 1970s and early 1980s and have since been sustained entirely by natural reproduction.
In recent years, Weiss anglers reported a decline in striped bass numbers. In July 2017, the Weiss Lake Improvement Association requested that ADCNR consider stocking striped bass into the lake. ADCNR conducted an email survey that was sent to more than 5,000 individuals who held a fishing license in the counties surrounding the lake. Seventy-six percent of the respondents supported the supplemental stocking.
“We appreciate the input from the fishermen around Weiss on what was needed to improve the fishery,” said Chris Blankenship, ADCNR Commissioner. “ADCNR is pleased to partner with Georgia’s DNR to provide this supplemental stocking, which will enhance recreational fishing opportunities for our citizens and guests.”
Georgia provided the fingerlings, and ADCNR’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division will monitor the result of the stocking before considering any future stockings. This fishery is shared by both Alabama and Georgia and is an important source of adult brood fish for the Georgia striped bass hatchery program.
Click here for more Weiss information, including lake and river records and fishing reports.