Bass

Coosa Riverkeeper’s Fish Guide Program makes it easy to fishermen to get all the information they need such as Fish Consumption Advisories on the Coosa, Where to Cast a Line & How to Cook your Catch all in one place. Get hooked!

ALL ABOUT THAT BASS

BLACK BASS

LARGEMOUTH | SPOTTED | REDEYE

TEMPERATE BASS

STRIPED | WHITE | HYBRID

The Largemouth BASS

Alabama's official state freshwater fish

A few features distinguish the largemouth: their jaw  (when closed) extends past their eye, they generally do not have teeth on their tongue, and there is only a slight bridge, if any, between the spiny and soft dorsal fins (the ones on top!)

Largemouth bass prefer non-flowing, warm water. Water temperature from 80° to 90°F, an abundance of aquatic vegetation, which provides a place for food and cover if necessary, and water that is clear. They’re found in rivers, lakes and ponds, though lakes provide preferred habitat.

Largemouth bass prey on smaller fish, crawfish, and frogs.

SPRING, 63-68°F

Largemouth bass usually reach sexual maturity and begin spawning when they are about a year old. Spawning takes place in the spring season when the water temperature first holds steady above 60˚F.

  • Weiss Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Lay Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Choccolocco Creek: It is advised to NOT eat any fish caught from Choccolocco Creek. 

(Micropterus salmoides)

They are the most popular game fish on the Coosa River and most commonly found in lakes. The state record largemouth, weighing in at 16 lbs 8 oz, came from right here in the Coosa Valley! Largemouth bass grow to the largest size of any black bass. Compared to other black bass, they usually don’t fight very hard, especially in the summer.  

The spotted BASS

The "Alabama" bass

Notably, their jaw, when closed, does not extend past the eye. A few other features distinguish the “spot:” they generally have a tooth patch on their tongue and there is a significant bridge between the spiny and soft dorsal fins. They usually have red eyes, but contrary to what some fishermen get confused about that doesn’t make them redeye bass!

Spotted bass tend to be found in areas with more current than the large mouth, and usually inhabit areas that are too warm, turbid, and sluggish for small mouth bass. 

The adults feed on the same food that other bass eat including worms, leeches, crayfish, fathead minnows, gizzard shad and golden shiners.

SPRING, 63-68°F

They spawn in April to May.

  • Weiss Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Lay Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Choccolocco Creek: It is advised to NOT eat any fish caught from Choccolocco Creek. 

(Micropterus henshalli)

The Coosa River’s spotted bass (Micropterus henshalli), also known as the Alabama Bass, are some of the meanest fighting fish in the nation! They are found both in the lakes and in creeks. They tend to be more slender and shaped like a football than a largemouth.  Because they fight so hard, many a fisherman has been duped into thinking he’s hooked a monster largemouth only to find a smallish spotted bass with a lot of energy.

redeye BASS

Red eye’s have beautiful colors and tend to be darker and more mottled than their largemouth and spotted cousins. Like spots, they have a significant bridge between the spiny and soft dorsal fins, their jaw does not extend past the eye, and they usually have a tooth patch on their tongue. Generally speaking, redeye bass don’t have a strong horizontal black band down their sides like spots and largemouth tend to, and have the visual appearance more similar to a smallmouth bass.

Redeye love moving water and you’ll only find them in creeks, they loathe lake life.

Red eye feed on very small fish, insects and crawfish.

SPRING, 63-68°F

Redeye spawn from April to June.

  • Weiss Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Lay Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Choccolocco Creek: It is advised to NOT eat any fish caught from Choccolocco Creek. 

(Micropterus coosae) 

The Coosa River’s redeye bass (Micropterus coosae) brings pure joy to the few fishermen that know ’em when they see ’em. The redeye bass are small: the state record redeye came from the Coosa Valley and weighed only 3 lbs 2 oz.  The key way to know you’re holding a redeye is that their caudal fins are edged in white, something no other Coosa black bass exhibits. They’re a true delight on a fly rod!

The striped BASS

The most notorious game fish of the temperate bass.

Striped bass have horizontal black lines along their body which are continuous, but sometimes broken. But, the first stripe below the lateral line is complete all the way to the tail. They have two tooth patches on their tongue, compared to one on a white bass.

Stripes are anadromous fish; they spend most of their life in saltwater but spawn in freshwater. On the Coosa, of course, they are stuck between two dams and live their entire life in freshwater. This makes it hard for them to sustain their populations. However, on Weiss Lake where stripes have freedom to roam a large territory into Georgia, striped bass now spawn naturally, one of few freshwater populations to do so.

Stripes largely feed on shad.

SPRING, 63-68°F

Striped bass reproduce in rivers and brackish areas of estuaries. Spawning occurs from the spring to early summer, with the greatest activity occurring when the water warms to about 65 ° F.

  • Weiss Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Lay Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Choccolocco Creek: It is advised to NOT eat any fish caught from Choccolocco Creek. 

 (Morone saxatilis) 

Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) are the most notorious game fish of the temperate bass. Though they don’t grow incredibly large in the Coosa, their brethren that have more room to stretch their fins grow to huge sizes over 50 pounds and can live well into their twenties.  In the summer, they seek out cold water springs and clear water.

The white BASS

The white bass  is similar to the stripe in many ways, but does not grow nearly as large. Their body tends to be stockier (more football shaped) and their stripes tend to be fainter. They only have one tooth patch on their tongue and the first stripe below the lateral line is broken (not complete).

White bass inhabit large reservoirs and rivers. When mating in the spring, they are more often found in shallow rivers, creeks, and streams. White bass are found in high densities in the upstream segment of rivers.

White bass largely feed on shad.

SPRING, 63-68°F

The spawning season for the white bass is mid-March to late May. The optimal water temperatures are 54 to 68 °F. They are known to find their home spawning ground even if it is moved to a different part of the same lake.

  • Weiss Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Lay Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Choccolocco Creek: It is advised to NOT eat any fish caught from Choccolocco Creek. 

(Morone chrysops

The white bass (Morone chrysopsis similar to the stripe in many ways, but does not grow nearly as large.  Their name “chrysops means “golden eye.” They generally spawn in the mouths of creeks in March and April.

The hybrid BASS

Like their striped bass mother, they have two tooth patches on their tongue. But unlike their mother, the lateral stripes on the lower half of their body are very broken. They also tend to be shorter and thicker.

Hybrid striped bass are stocked into a variety of Lakes, ponds and reservoirs for Fishing purposes. Hybrids do well in slow moving streams, large reservoirs, lakes and ponds. They are seldom found in extremely shallow areas or areas that contain dense growth of aquatic weeds.

Like both their mother and father, shad is their primary sustenance.

Hybrids are stocked by the millions by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and are a common catch, especially below any of the Coosa’s dams.  They rarely reproduce naturally.

  • Weiss Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Lay Lake: Limit consumption of bass to 1 meal/ month due to PCB’s. 
  • Choccolocco Creek: It is advised to NOT eat any fish caught from Choccolocco Creek. 

(Morone chrysops x saxatilis)

The striped bass and white bass hybrid (Morone chrysops x saxatilisis not a natural species. It is created by artificially spawning a male white bass with a female striped bass. 

FISH GUIDE