By Steve Layton & Gary Finch
The hot months of summer are not considered the prime season for striper fishing, but Alabama fishermen have some tricks up their sleeves. Armed with depth finders and topographical maps of reservoirs, these fishermen are “zeroing” in on striped bass.
Across Alabama there are more than 47 reservoirs covering more than 500 acres each, which gives plenty of room for striped bass to flourish. The striper’s head is small in comparison to the body and the overall look is something like a torpedo, especially when seen in the water.
In 1994 it was determined that stripers were spawning in the headwaters of the Coosa River that feeds Weiss Lake. This lake is located in the northeastern corner of Alabama in Cherokee County. It is more familiar to fishermen as the “Crappie Fishing Capital of the World.”
The spawning of stripers into Weiss Lake could have been a major concern for crappie fishermen. It was feared that maybe they would begin feeding on the lake’s more popular crappie species. A study of striper stomaches brought some relief when it was revealed that the striper’s most common food source is shad.
Recently, we had an opportunity to book and fish with professional guide Mark Collins. Fishing with Mark is always an educational experience, and we got a complete lesson in summer striper fishing on Weiss Lake. According to Mark, striper fishermen can quickly narrow their search to deep cool water and eliminate 85 percent of the search process.
Mark explained that when temperatures are pushing the top out of a thermometer, there’s not much chance of catching a striper in the shallow portions of any lake. Instead, first look for old river or creek channels on the map. Then locate them with the depth finder, the deeper the better. As summer temperatures rise, these fish will enter the channels and slowly migrate upstream. Eventually, they will seek out and begin to congregate near a source of cold, oxygenated, water from cold-running streams, natural springs, or tailrace spillways.
The state record for striped bass is 55 pounds, and Mark will be quick to point out that the fish in Lake Weiss will average closer to the 6-15 pound range. What Weiss Lake boasts, beyond size, is plenty of fish. Try it!