Alabama Bass Trail
The Alabama Bass Trail features 13 of Alabama's premier bass fishing lakes including: Lake Guntersville, Wheeler Lake, Pickwick Lake, Lewis Smith Lake, Neely Henry Lake, Weiss Lake, Lake Martin, Lay Lake, Logan Martin Lake, Lake Jordan, Alabama River, Lake Eufaula and Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. Its mission is to promote Alabama as a year-round fishing destination, to preserve natural resources for generations to come, and to educate high school and college-aged students to be good stewards of natural resources.
Alabama is known for many things including beautiful beaches and scenic mountains and valleys, and ranked right up there with these favorites is fishing. In Alabama, fishing has become a family tradition for many, whether sitting in a boat or dropping a line off the banks. The 13 lakes of the Alabama Bass Trail offer plenty of fishing opportunities for both serious anglers and the weekend hobbits. An abundance of public access areas make it convenient for boaters, or for those who want to learn the secrets, schedule a trip with one of the many fishing guides that can be found throughout the state.
Lake Guntersville, Alabama's largest fishing impoundment, measures 69,000 acres with more than 900 miles of shoreline stretching from Scottsboro to Guntersville in northern Alabama. Named one of "The South's Greatest Lakes" by Southern Living, Lake Guntersville lures thousands of visitors from across the United States to experience the beautiful scenery and calm waters.
The lake has been ranked near the top of bass fishing lakes nationally. It has played hosts to national fishing tournaments including Bass Pro Shops Big Bass Tournament, FLW Tour, Bassmaster Elite Series and the prestigious Bassmaster Classic.
Though most noted nationally for large bass, Lake Guntersville is also home to bream, crappie, sauger and catfish, attracting their fair share of anglers. Plenty of free boat ramps and private marinas are available all around the lake's perimeter.
Wheeler Lake is the second-largest lake on the Tennessee River in northern Alabama, second only to Guntersville Lake. The lake was constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority just prior to World War II as a means of hydroelectric generation and flood control, as well as to facilitate navigation along the Tennessee River. The name of this impoundment comes from Civil War general Joseph 'Fightin' Joe Wheeler, who frequented the area during the war and later returned to the area to live in nearby Hillsboro.
Today the lake is mostly popular for fishing and recreational activities. Bass fishing, largemouth, smallmouth and spotted, is the most popular fishery in Wheeler Reservoir. Catfish fishing is also excellent here. William McKinley caught the previous world record blue catfish, 111 pounds, from Wheeler Reservoir on July 5, 1996. Bream and crappie are also popular with fishermen.
If you're looking for one of the South's best trophy smallmouth fisheries, plan a trip to Pickwick Lake in northwestern Alabama. While the lake is most notably known for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, crappie, sauger and catfish are other favorite fish species sought by Pickwick anglers. Plenty of private marinas and free boat launch facilities are available to drop in your boat, canoe, kayak or jet ski and take off for a day of beautiful scenery and fun on the water.
Lewis Smith Lake
Lewis Smith Lake, covering 21,200 acres, is favorite among anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. It is one of the cleanest lakes in all of America and on any typical summer day, it is filled with boaters and jet skiers. In the crystal clear water, you'll find some seriously big striped bass - the current lake record is 45 pounds, and it holds the five previous World Record spotted bass catches.
Neely Henry Lake
Located in Gadsden, Neely Henry Lake sports 11,200 acres of blue waters and 339 miles of shoreline. While largemouth bass and spotted bass are the most targeted fish by anglers, these waters are bubbling with smallmouth and catfish. According to www.outdooralabama.com, Neely Henry ranked third statewide in the percent of successful anglers per trip.
Named "The Crappie Capital of the World," Weiss Lake offers more than 30,000 acres and 447 miles of shoreline. While it has earned this nickname, fishing for largemouth bass and striped bass has become increasingly popular in recent years. Located in Cherokee County in northern Alabama, Weiss Lake is also the upper end of the Alabama Scenic River Trail, a paddle and powerboat trail that ends at Fort Morgan on the Gulf of Mexico.
Lake Martin is a 39,180-acre impoundment on the Tallapoosa River with a whopping 700 miles of shoreline. Probably the most popular recreational reservoir in Alabama, the lake attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year who enjoy boating, water skiing, jet skiing and sunbathing in the clean water. Many public facilities are available to drop in your boat, canoe, kayak or jet ski and take off for a day of beautiful scenery and fun on the water.
Many anglers find it difficult to fish in Lake Martin due to the clarity of the water; however, popular species sought by anglers include largemouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass, white bass, black crappie, channel catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, bluegill and redear sunfish. Lake Martin has excellent crappie fishing with large fish being caught frequently. The current state record white crappie (4 lbs. 9 oz.) was caught here in May, 2000.
Just 30 minutes south of Birmingham, this 12,000-acre reservoir has seven public-access areas that offer easy bank and boat access to the lake. Lay Lake is an excellent year-round fishery and is popular for tournament fishing as well as boating recreation. Lay Lake is best known for its spotted bass and largemouth bass fishing, and crappie and bream fishing are also very popular. The upper end of the lake, near the Logan Martin Dam tailwaters, is very popular with local anglers.
Logan Martin Lake
At 48.5 miles long and covering 15,263 acres, Lake Logan Martin is very popular because of its location on I-20 between Birmingham and Atlanta and because of its good Alabama spotted bass and largemouth bass fishing. Striped bass, white bass, and their hybrid are also caught in this lake.
Lake Jordan’s 6,800 acres and 188 miles of shoreline are 25 miles from Montgomery. The most common sport fish found in Lake Jordan include the Alabama spotted bass, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and black and white crappie. Popular non-game fish include channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish. Two popular public boating access areas include Bonner’s Point on the west side of the lake and Rotary Landing to the east.
The 318-mile-long Alabama River originates just north of Montgomery, where the Coosa River and the Tallapoosa River meet. Popular with recreational boaters, the lower Alabama River has natural beauty including high bluffs and is home to one of the richest freshwater mussel beds in Alabama. The upper section of the Alabama River and the lower ends of both the Coosa River and the Tallapoosa River are known for the giant spotted bass. While it is known for largemouth bass, the Miller Ferry area of the Alabama River is more famous for its consistently good crappie fishing. Anglers on the lower Alabama River generally target largemouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, catfish, striped bass, and white bass. This area of the lower Alabama River also provides a home for a host of interesting fish species such as alligator gar, paddlefish, Alabama darter, and one of the most endangered species on the planet, the Alabama sturgeon.
Lake Eufaula is a 45,181-acre reservoir located on the Chattahoochee River along the border of southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia. The catfish population is excellent with the channel catfish still the most abundant catfish species. Largemouth bass, spotted bass and black crappie are also popular with anglers.
Mobile-Tensaw River Delta
With more than 20,000 acres of open waters, the Mobile-Tensaw Delta is second in size only to the Mississippi River Delta in the U.S. Known for its immense biodiversity, it was named a National Landmark in 1974 (fewer than 600 sites have received that honor) and is also known as one of Alabama’s “10 Natural Wonders.” Anglers fish for bass, bream and crappie and the saltwater influence makes this a great spot for speckled trout, redfish and flounder.
Hints and Tips for Fishing this Area
For more information, including itineraries, a trail map and more details on each of the Alabama Bass Trail's lakes, visit www.fishalabama.org.