Coosa River The Go-To For Linesides

When fisheries biologists need stripers and white bass for hatchery stocking programs, they go to the Coosa River.

GON Staff | March 1, 2002

Georgia Fisheries Section is planning on going fishing in March for white bass and striped bass brood stock for the 2002 hybrid/striped bass stocking program. Brood stock fish are caught in March and early April as they make their spawning runs up rivers draining into the reservoirs. With all the state to choose from, WRD fisheries this year will go to one river to catch white bass and stripers: the Coosa River.

“We have always taken some fish from the Coosa,” said WRD fisheries biologist Kevin Dallmier. “This year we compared notes to see where we have had the most success and we have decided to focus our efforts on the Coosa. It has been real good to us in the past with better – which means bigger — fish, and they have been relatively easy to catch.”

In the past, white bass had come from several locations, including the Oconee River above Lake Oconee and the Chattahoochee River at Franklin Shoals above Lake West Point.

This year, Fisheries has a target of about 300 female white bass and 15 to 20 striped bass to supply eggs and milt for the hatchery operation.

The electro-fishing effort for white bass in the Coosa River will take place between Brushy Branch and the Lock & Dam just below Rome.

“We look for fish on the main river channel at creek mouths or anywhere there is a break in the current,” said Kevin. The electro-fishing equipment gives a clear picture of where the fish are holding, and Kevin says the fish are exactly where many fishing stories have said — the fish hold in any break in the current.

“It’s true,” said Kevin. “Any eddy or tree or creekmouth that breaks the current, that’s where the fish will be, especially the striped bass.

“The white bass will begin to run the first week in March,” said Kevin. “The run peaks around the third week of March.”

Last year, the first white bass were caught on March 5. When the run begins, Kevin expects to catch 300 fish in as little as two days. The female white bass will average 3/4-lb. to 1-lb.

The striped bass’ natural spawning run is a little later, usually about the first week of April. Last year, the first stripers were caught on March 30. One of the best areas for catching brood stock has been in Rome at the confluence of the Oostanaula and Etowah river.

Fish caught from the Coosa are trucked to the Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery near Savannah. Biologist there induce spawning, fertilize and hatch the eggs, then grow the fish to  1-inch long, when they are ready for stocking. Tentative plans call for 7.8 million striper fry and 5.8 million hybrid fry for stocking into Georgia’s lakes and rivers.

The Coosa is also an excellent destination in March for white bass (and crappie) anglers. Put in at Brushy Branch or at the Lock & Dam and target the edge of slack water behind log jams and creek mouths. White crappie jigs, brightly-colored twister-tail grubs and small crankbaits will keep you busy catching white bass, crappie and stripers.

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