John's Journal...

Dale Welch- The Striper King

Why Depth Finders and Trolling Motors Spell Striper Success

Click to enlarge Editor’s Note: One day in 1988, Dale Welch of Crane Hill, Alabama, a biomedical engineer in Birmingham, left his job to go fishing and never returned. No, Welch didn’t vanish. He discovered a new career and a new life as a saltwater striper guide on Smith Lake. Welch has guided for stripers longer than any other guide on Smith Lake and has caught four Smith Lake records. Today, we’ll learn some of Dale’s striper-fishing tactics.Click to enlarge

Besides having good, lively bait, a striper angler needs an easy-to-read-and-understand, reliable depth finder to catch stripers. Welch uses a Lowrence LMS-332C depth finder.
“The reason I like this particular graph is that the color scale enables me to distinguish fish from engine noise, and I can determine the fish’s size, depending on the color that appears on the unit,” Welch explains. Welch’s sensitive graph even shows the leads on his lines trolling in front of the boat, and he can see the striper coming up to take his bait. Because Welch uses his trolling motor to move the boat along when he has his rod out, the striper appears as a thick yellow to orange line coming up from the bottom, depending on the sClick to enlargeize of the fish, instead of a well-defined arch. Welch also likes a Minn Kota trolling motor with auto-pilot steering, which enables him to sit at the boat’s console and operate the trolling motor without his having to position himself be in the front of the boat and in the way of the other anglers. “With the auto-pilot feature, I only need one depth finder instead of two to see the fish,” Welch explains. “Also, by my being in the middle of the boat instead of the front, then regardless of which rod gets a fish, I’m close to my dip net, and the angler who has caught a fish. I can help land the fish without running from the front of the boat to the back or the back to front.”

Dale Welch remiClick to enlargends me of a smooth-running sewing machine. Years of experience have taught him where the big stripers are in Smith Lake, the baits they prefer to bite, the tackle and equipment that’s best to catch them, and the time of day that’s best to catch them to catch striped bass at Smith Lake, I recommend you take a trip with Dale Welch.
To schedule a striper fishing trip with Dale Welch, contact him at: 7932 County Road 312, Crane Hill, AL 35053, (256) 737-0541,,

Tomorrow: How Dale Welch Became a Striper Guide on Smith Lake and a Super Striper Recipe

Check back each day this week for more about "Dale Welch- The Striper King"

Day 1: Angling with The Striper King
Day 2: Where We Caught ‘Em, and the History of Stripers in Smith Lake
Day 3: How to Catch ‘Em
Day 4: Why Depth Finders and Trolling Motors Spell Striper Success
Day 5: How Dale Welch Became a Striper Guide on Smith Lake and a Super Striper Recipe


Entry 366, Day 4