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How to Catch Striped Bass in Alabama Lakes this Summer

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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!

Drunken Peaches

Photo by Michael Cornelison

 

A peach desert that uses the flavors of rum and brown sugar to make a carmelized treat. Thanks to Kirk Vantreas from the Cullman Electrical Cooperative for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 6 peaches, peeled, seeded, halved
  • ½ cup dark rum
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • ¼ cup pecans, crushed

Directions:

Grill peaches 5 minutes per side. In saucepan, combine rum, brown sugar, butter and pecans. Cook mixture 5 minutes on low heat. Add peaches to mixture and cook until caramelized, turning often. Serve and enjoy!

 

Cook of the Month: Myscha Crouch’s Peach Cobbler

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Cook of the Month: Myscha Crouch, Joe Wheeler EMC

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     Myscha Crouch

You can whip up Myscha Crouch’s easy twist on traditional peach cobbler fast, and since it’s also delicious, it will disappear just as quickly. “I’ve been making it for about two years, and I modified a recipe I’d found to give the topping more flavor and texture,” she says. She was inspired by a homemade granola she makes and drew on that snack’s combo of crunchy, salty and sweet to round out the soft and sweet of the peaches.

“You can use frozen peaches,” she says. “Just thaw them first. But this time of year, you really should use fresh Alabama peaches.” Trust Myscha. She knows her stuff. “I love to cook and experiment with foods,” she says.

She’s even earned our Cook of the Month honor before. And her recipe has an added bonus: For folks watching what they eat or dealing with food allergies, note that this dish doesn’t call for any refined sugars, wheat or dairy.

 

 

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 peaches, peeled and sliced

Topping:

  • 1½ cups finely shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1/8 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the filling ingredients except the fruit until well combined. Toss the fruit in the mixture to coat well. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the coconut, arrowroot/tapioca, cinnamon, seeds and salt together until well combined. Mix in the butter and maple syrup until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet. Place the fruit filling into a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Then evenly cover the fruit with the topping, leaving the edges of the skillet exposed so you can see some of the fruit and to allow space for bubbling. Bake for 30-45 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the fruit filling is bubbling and the fruit is soft.

Who is Joe Wheeler?

 

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By Mandi Phillips

There’s not a year that goes by that this question isn’t asked several times at Joe Wheeler EMC. Who is this man with the name that spans all over North Alabama on everything from your electric co-op to a dam. It’s no coincidence that it is such a popular name.

Joseph Wheeler was born on September 10, 1836 in Augusta, Georgia. At the age of 17, he was admitted to West Point where he graduated in 1859. When he was only 26, Wheeler became one of the youngest Confederate generals, and he quickly rose through the ranks from the title of Brigadier to Major General during the year of 1863. There are actually debates that exist over whether Wheeler officially became a Lieutenant General or not, but he served the military with the responsibilities of such a title later on in the war.

During his military career, Wheeler participated in more than 500 skirmishes, and he commanded in 127 battles. Records are evidence of just how dangerous fighting in this time period was. Records show that 36 officers were wounded by his side, and 16 horses were shot from underneath him. All these events earned Wheeler the well-deserved nickname of “Fightin’ Joe.”

Joe Wheeler’s Home in Courtland
Joe Wheeler’s Home in Courtland

After the Civil War, Wheeler studied law and passed the Alabama Law Exam. He went on to become an attorney for the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railroad, which was later named Southern Railway.

Following that path, Wheeler decided to run for Congress. He was first elected to Congress in 1880 and served out his initial two year service before becoming defeated in the next election. However, he ran again two years later and became victorious. He continued to serve Congress until 1898 when he took leave because of the Spanish-American war.

President McKinley ordered Wheeler to serve as Major General of Volunteers in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, for the United States Army.

Wheeler eventually died in 1906 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, becoming only one of the very few Confederate soldiers buried there.

His home is still in North Alabama today. It’s called Pond Spring, and is located near Courtland. The home has been preserved for tourists to come and visit.

Joe Wheeler State Park
Joe Wheeler State Park

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As a man of great influence during the Civil War and beyond, General Joseph Wheeler’s name lives on in many North Alabama attractions and industries such as the Wheeler Dam, Joe Wheeler State Park, Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, and of course, Joe Wheeler EMC. We are proud co carry the name of such a brave and prominent man in our area’s history, and we hope you enjoyed getting to know the man behind the name.

Watermelon Punch

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Crisp, cool, refreshing watermelon punch is great for all the hot summer days ahead. Thanks to Becky Terry for submitting this recipe.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (3 large lemons)
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups fresh orange juice (6-8 oranges)
1 small watermelon
Garnish: lime wedges

Directions:

Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan; boil 3 minutes. Cool completely, and stir in orange juice. Peel, seed and cube watermelon. Process cubed watermelon in a blender until smooth. Pour through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, reserving 3 cups juice; discard watermelon pulp.
Stir together watermelon juice and sugar mixture; chill thoroughly. Serve over crushed ice. Garnish, if desired.

Yield: 8 cups.

4th of July Ribs

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Ribs on July 4th. It does not get much better. Here’s a great recipe for BBQ ribs from Myscha Crouch from Hartselle, Alabama. Make these for your backyard BBQ this fourth, you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cans tomato puree
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups chili sauce
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes hot sauce
8 pounds pork back ribs

Directions: 
Saute garlic in oil 4 minutes. Add next 12 ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Sprinkle ribs with salt. Place ribs, bone side down, on grill over medium heat. Grill for 20 minutes. turn meaty side down and grill 20 more minutes. Brush with sauce and grill 15 more minutes, basting occasionally. Turn and baste, cooking several minutes more.

Binky’s Seasoning

 

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Sprinkle this blend of seasonings on meats, fish, or anything you plan on cooking low and slow outdoors. If you add a bit more salt and dissolve the mix in water, you’ve got yourself a great brine for larger cuts that could dry out during cooking. Thanks to reader Clyde Helmer from Baldwin County for the recipe.

Ingredients and Directions:

Mix two parts salt, 1 part onion powder, 1 part garlic powder, 1 part black pepper, 1 part paprika, 1 part chili powder, ½ part cayenne pepper, ½ part crushed oregano and ½ part crushed rosemary.

 

 

Garden Macaroni Salad

 

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Macaroni salad with all the best from your summer vegetable garden. Thanks to reader Mary Ann Johnson from North Alabama for the recipe.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped radishes
  • 1 cup chopped onion (red onions add color)
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • ½ cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 ½ cups chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 pound hickory smoked bacon
  • 4 cups elbow macaroni
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Fry bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. When cool, crumble into small pieces and set aside. Cook macaroni until tender. Don’t overcook or the noodles will fall apart when mixed with other ingredients. Drain macaroni and let cool. In a large bowl, combine all chopped raw vegetables and crumbled bacon. Mix well, gently add macaroni and mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Gently mix all ingredients until well coated with mayonnaise. Chill overnight.

 

Picnic Potato Salad

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Don’t forget the chopped dill pickles in this fun picnic recipe from Janice Bush of Baldwin County.

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled, washed and cubed
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, cut up
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • ¼ cup dill pickles, chopped
  • ¼ cup white or yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: 

Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and cook on medium until potatoes are tender. Drain. In separate bowl, mix celery salt, pickles, onions, mustard and mayonnaise and pour over potatoes. Add eggs and mix well; add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle bacon bits over the top.

 

Gulf Shores Fried Chicken

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There’s not much better than home-made fried chicken. Here is a simple recipe for fried chicken that’s great for picnics or sitting around on the porch.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken, cut into eight pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper or Binky’s Seasoning (recipe following)
  • Solid Crisco or oil for frying

Preparation:

Place enough Crisco in an electric frying pan set at 350 to 375 degrees to come up the sides about ¼ of an inch. Since temperatures may vary on fry pans, be careful not to let the oil burn. Mix flour with seasonings. Coat chicken with seasoned flour and shake off excess. Brown chicken on each side, then cover and cook until juices run clear (about 20 minutes).