During the last week of July, Alabama Power continued a 22-year tradition of building fish habitat to enhance company lakes.
The latest location was on the Coosa River’s Weiss Lake. Alabama Power partnered with fishing team students from Cherokee County High School in Centre and volunteers with the Weiss Lake Improvement Association.
Some 130 fish attraction devices (FAD) were assembled on the lake banks with bamboo anchored by concrete in building blocks. The FADs were loaded and transported on two Alabama Power boats, thrown overboard at strategic locations in the lake, then marked with GPS coordinates fishermen can find on the Shorelines app or on each lake’s page on the website.
“As the lake has gotten older the past 50 years, we’ve seen a massive loss of natural cover in the lake,” said fishing guide Mark Collins, who organized the event. “This enhancement program will give small fish places to hide from other predators, which will allow them to become an age to be a harvestable in the future for our fishermen.”
Volunteer Richard Green said tree stumps were throughout the lake bed in years past.
“They eroded away. Now we’re putting these FADs down to replace the stumps, and give the little-bitty fish a place to hide,” Green said.
Without adequate cover, small fish at the bottom of the food chain are gobbled up by larger fish and birds such as cormorants. FADs were deployed strategically in areas of busy fish traffic.
“Weiss Lake is known as the Crappie Capital of the World, but these devices will attract and hold bass, bluegill and catfish as well,” said fishing guide Lee Pitts as he took a break from loading FADs with hand trucks. “This is really helpful to all species in the lake.”
There was almost as much enthusiasm for the presence and effort of the high school students as for deploying the FADs.
“One of our goals at Alabama Power in our stewardship programs is to reach out more and more to these student organizations, to get them involved and teach them about conservation,” said Mike Clelland, supervisor of the company’s Fish Habitat Program and Renew Our Rivers lake cleanups.
“The youths coming along and helping us means a whole lot as to what we see as a positive future out here,” Pitts said.
The Weiss Lake Improvement Association hopes to partner again with Alabama Power and Cherokee County High to make the FAD construction and deployment a semiannual event.