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Lake Weiss The lower Coosa River from Mayo’s Lock and Dam near Rome to the Georgia Alabama state line is the Georgia portion of Weiss Reservoir, an Alabama Power project. This portion encompasses approximately 2,000 acres of river and shallow backwater habitats. A “Guide to Fishing the Coosa River” in PDF format (645 kB) contains access and fishing tip information and a color map with river mile designations. The map can be obtained at www.gofishgeorgia.com .
Boaters unfamiliar with the area should use caution when navigating outside of the main river channel. Popular access points include Lock and Dam Park and the Brushy Branch boat access both operated by the Rome Floyd County Recreation Department. Both facilities have paved ramps, courtesy docks and ample parking. The Lock and Dam Park also has bank fishing access, a bait shop, nature center, camping, picnic and restroom facilities.
Lake Weiss carries the title of “crappie capital of the world” for good reason. Despite heavy fishing pressure for crappie, an excellent forage base supports the population resulting in quality fishing year after year. Slabs over 2 pounds are routinely caught from these waters. Trolling small jigs or live minnows on multiple rods is a favored method for locating crappie schools especially from mid late winter. Anglers should also key in on downed shoreline trees and logjams, as crappie will congregate in these areas especially in the post spawn period. Anglers can download and print out a map of brush piles placed in the Brushy Branch area of the lake by Georgia and Alabama Power and WRD at www.gofishgeorgia.com . In late February through early April, white bass can be caught as they make their annual spawning run up the Coosa River. A better than average run of mature white bass should make for good spring fishing in 2008. The River Road boat ramp upstream to Lock and Dam Park is a prime river stretch for catching spawn run white bass. Key in on creek mouths and fallen trees with good water flow around them in the main river. Hungry white bass congregate in these areas waiting on food to pass by on the current. Anglers targeting white bass should try casting small jigs and crank baits in shad patterns or use live bait. Most likely, anglers will catch a mixed bag of white bass and crappie using these techniques.
Striped bass fishing in the Coosa will be good in 2008, but the severe drought last summer may limit the number of larger striped bass caught this year. Spring run stripers are caught from the Lock and Dam upriver to the city of Rome. Live or cut shad is the most popular bait, but a few stripers are fooled using artificial lures such as bucktail jigs, shad colored crank baits, and large jerk baits fished in swift water near fallen trees. After the spawn, stripers disperse all over the Coosa River basin in search of cool waters to beat the summer heat. These fish can be found hiding wherever there is cool water in the rivers above Lake Weiss and the smaller tributaries to the lake. Find one of these spots and striped bass could be on the menu all summer. When cooler fall temperatures arrive, stripers will begin moving back toward the main lake where anglers can find them chasing shad on the Coosa River. From mid to late winter the area between Brushy Branch and the main body of Lake Weiss are good places to find some winter striper action.
Largemouth bass numbers and quality continue to be good in the upper portion of the lake. The average fish will weigh 1 2 pounds , with larger individuals topping the 7 8 pounds range. Most bass fishing in this part of the lake is done in the Brushy Branch area, but largemouth will be found in any of the backwater tributaries off the main Coosa River channel. Such stump laden areas like Kings Creek and Mt. Hope Creek hold plenty of largemouth, but must be boated with care.
Spotted bass occur in fair numbers in the upper sections of Weiss. Spotted bass tend to stay in the main river channel and are generally a little smaller on the average than largemouth. Spots over 4 pounds are available to anglers fishing bluff banks and creek mouths along the Coosa River above Brushy Branch.
Blue, channel and flathead catfish of all sizes are abundant. The larger blue catfish can top the 50 pounds range in the riverine portion of the lake. Fish for these whiskered behemoths in and around log jams and undercut banks common in this area. Cats can be taken with a number of unsavory baits, but anglers should keep in mind most “pole breaker cats” are after live prey such as shad or bream. Freshwater drum, smallmouth buffalo and suckers are extremely abundant in this portion of the lake. The average drum is slightly over 12 inches, but be prepared to hook into some bull drum over 20 inches in length. Bluegill, redbreast sunfish and redear sunfish round out the fishing opportunity in the Georgia portion of Lake Weiss.
A few anglers may encounter an odd looking fish they have never seen before in Lake Weiss or its surrounding waters. The lake sturgeon, once a resident of the Coosa River system, disappeared in the 1960s. Pollution and over fishing are believed to have eliminated these archaic fishes from the river system. Thankfully since then, water conditions have improved in the river and WRD has begun to restock lake sturgeon in an effort to re establish this native fish. Since their first stocking in 2002 more than 67,000 sturgeon fingerlings have been released in the Coosa basin. This long term reintroduction project will require annual stockings over the next 15 to 20 years to reestablish this native fish. The species grows slowly and does not mature for 12 15 years so it is important to protect them from harvest until they can reproduce and once again support some limited harvest. As their name implies, they do have a tendency to inhabit slow waters, which includes Lake Weiss. Anglers accidentally catching a lake sturgeon should immediately release the fish unharmed. Fish hooked deep will often survive if anglers cut the line near the hook and release the fish with the hook. If you catch or otherwise see a sturgeon, please contact the Calhoun WRD office (706 624 1161) to report the location from which the sturgeon was caught. Such “sightings” are very helpful to biologists trying to assess the survival and dispersal of these magnificent fish. Those wondering what impact sturgeon will have on their favorite game species can rest easy. Because of its low reproductive potential, the fish does not establish itself as a prominent species making its impacts negligible. In fact, the sturgeon’s poor reproductive potential has caused the species to be listed as rare or endangered throughout most of its original range.
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