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The self proclaimed "Crappie Capital of the World," Weiss Lake is a fantastic destination for anglers and the entire family. The lake is in Cherokee County in northeastern Alabama near the Georgia border. The headwaters of the Coosa River start in northwest Georgia, and Weiss Lake is accessible from both Alabama and Georgia. There are about 2,000 acres of river and backwater habitat on the Georgia side of the lake. With fishing, boating, and water sports along with the spectacular scenery surrounding the lake, there is something to please any outdoor enthusiast.
In the 1890's Captain William Patrick Lay had the idea to harness the water power of the Coosa River. He incorporated the Alabama Power Company, but work on the hydroelectric projects on the Coosa River didn't start until after WWII. Weiss Lake is the first of six impoundments created in the Coosa River system. The lake gets it water from the Coosa, Chattooga, and Little Rivers. Construction of Weiss Dam, the first dam built by the Alabama Power Company on the Coosa River, began on July 13, 1958. Named for Alabama Power's Chief Engineer F. C. Weiss, the dam started to generate power on June 5, 1961.
Weiss Lake was built for hydroelectric power, but it is also used for flood control, irrigation, drinking water, and recreation. The 52 mile long lake is a storage lake, and its water levels fluctuate about 10 feet seasonally. The lower part of Weiss Lake has two dams, Weiss Dam and the Lakes Power Pool Dam, both of which drain into Neely Henry Lake. Weiss Lake is unique in the Alabama Power system because its spillway gates are 4 miles from the powerhouse. Water runs to the powerhouse through a 1 mile long man-made channel.
The bottom of Weiss Lake is varied ranging from shallow flats to deep channels, creating exceptional fish habitiat. Anglers will often catch crappie weighing over 2 pounds, and it's not uncommon to catch crappie over 3 pounds. February through May are the best months to fish for crappie, and there is a spring rodeo. Along with black and white crappie, the lake is known for its largemouth bass fishing. There are also healthy populations of smallmouth, white, striped, and spotted bass, hybrid striper, bluegill, longear and redear sunfish, freshwater drum and blue, channel, and flathead catfish. The creel limit for most fish is 30, but anglers should check the fishing regulations for particulars on weights and limits.
Along with fishing, Weiss Lake is popular for boating, sailing, swimming, waterskiing, and jet skiing. There is public access to the lake and several private marinas. Accommodations range from campgrounds and cabins to motels. There are also several residential developments around the lake. Weiss Lake brings an estimated $200 million in tourism to Cherokee County.
Recreation in Cherokee County, however, is not limited to Weiss Lake. The county, which was named for the Cherokee Indians that lived in northern Alabama, is the home of the Cherokee Rock Village previously known as Little Rock City. West of Leesburg, the 200 acre park has sandstone and quartz formations, some of which are 150 feet tall and 70 feet wide. It is believed that the rock formations were used for ceremonies. Today it a popular spot for rock climbing, and visitors can look down on Weiss Lake and see from Alabama to Georgia.
The Little River Canyon National Preserve runs along Lookout Mountain in Cherokee County. There is a picnic area and an 11 mile long scenic drive. The preserve has bluffs, pools, and sandstone cliffs along with the 45 foot Little River Falls. There is also kayaking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting within an easy drive from Weiss Lake. DeSoto State Park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps atop Lookout Mountain, and it has camping, cabins and mountain chalets.
With its panoramic views, striking rock formations or water sports, Weiss Lake has much more than just exceptional fishing to offer visitors.
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