When it comes to quality freshwater fishing, Alabama has no equal. Bass that weigh 13 pounds are too puny to even quality for the list of the 50 largest bass caught in the state. Alabama has produced 4-pound bluegill, 4-pound crappie, 40-pound striped bass and 8-pound rainbow trout. Sitting smack dab in the middle of the best fishing the South has to offer is Birmingham, the hottest fishing destination in the South. Whether your love is hard-fighting largemouth and spotted bass, monstrous gear-destroying striped bass or just the solitude of fly-fishing for rainbow trout in gently tumbling waters, it can all be found in the Birmingham area. For a listing of popular fishing spots, from bank fishing to small lakes and streams, click here and view current area lake levels. Before you go, download the handy Your Guide to Fishing in Birmingham.
Lake Neely Henry- The fertile waters of this 11,200-acre Coosa River lake is a favorite of both pro and weekend fishermen. It has played host to many notable bass fishing events including the 1992 Wrangler/B.A.S.S. National Championship, the 1996 BASS N’ GAL Classic and the 1997 BASS Masters Alabama Invitational. It was during the 1992 Wrangler/B.A.S.S. National Championship that the nation’s best amateur bass fishermen set an all-time record of 635 bass weighing 1412 lbs. It’s been said records are made to be broken, but this one won’t be. That total catch was more that 800 pounds heavier than any tournament catch in amateur history. Located 45 minutes north of Birmingham just off I-59, Lake Neely Henry has incredible populations of both largemouth and spotted bass. A combination of standing timber, flooded flats, ledges and hundreds of piers and boat docks guarantee a bass angler can fish the habitats, techniques and lures he prefers.
Lake Logan Martin- Don’t ever think the best bass fishermen in the world don’t know where to do their fishing. Lake Logan Martin played host to the world championship off bass fishing – The BASS Masters Classic – in 1992, 1993 and 1997. It was here that all-time Classic records were set for heaviest total weight, most bass caught, most limits caught and largest winning weight. In 1992, Robert Hamilton, Jr. won the event with a three-day limit of 7 fish weighing an incredible 59 pounds, 6 ounces. This 15,263-acre, 48-mile-long Coosa River reservoir located just 30 minutes north of Birmingham boasts an exciting combination of fish species to test your talents. Most notable are its famous line-testing largemouth bass and cantankerous spotted bass, made meaner and stronger by years of fighting the strong Coosa River current. Like monster bass? It was here that Allen Bryan caught the then-state record largemouth bass weighing more than 14 pounds. The number of anglers who have caught 7-pound-plus spotted bass are too numerous to mention. Lake Logan Martin offers numbers of fishing guides to assist you in your fishing efforts. If you like to take a lake on your own, the 245 miles of shoreline are dotted with marinas and boat ramps.
Smith Lake- Just a 60-minute drive from Birmingham up I-65 North is Smith Lake, a lake like no other in the South. This 21,200-acre lake mountain impoundment has water depths up to 315 feet and its emerald-green waters make it one of the most beautiful lakes in America. Smith Lake produced eight consecutive world-record spotted bass in the 1970s and 1980s and still boasts a healthy population of feisty spots. The lake has become more famous in recent years however, as a trophy striped bass fishery. The deep, clear, cool water of Smith Lake is perfect habitat for striped bass and there is no better place in Alabama to get that trophy fish to hang on the wall, bearing in mind, your wall can handle it. Striped bass weighing more than 40 pounds have been caught and 30-pounders are commonplace. Striped bass exceeding 20 pounds are caught daily. Anglers can choose to fish for striped bass with live shad, bucktail jigs, topwater lures and even fly-fishing tackle. A number of bass and striped bass fishing guides are available to assist in the Smith Lake fishing experience. The lake has also become a hotspot for fly-fishing at night. Fly-fishing under pier lights produces largemouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass and bream. Smith Lake tailrace-Rated as the No.1 spot in Alabama for fly-fishing for rainbow trout, the icy cold water below Smith Lake Dam are stocked monthly with thousands of rainbows. Fly fisherman can wade, tube or fish from the bank in the tailrace, and catches of rainbows weighing up to 2 pounds are common. The tailrace record is a whopping 5 pounds. A quaint, full-service fly-fishing shop is located in the area and its employees are willing to divulge the hot flies and hottest pools. Guides are available. The Smith Lake tailrace is located less than an hour’s drive from downtown Birmingham.
Bankhead Reservoir- If trophy spotted bass for your wall is your fantasy, this 9,945-acre Black Warrior River impoundment located 30 miles west of Birmingham should be in your plans. It has become the hottest spotted bass fishery in the South in recent years. How big are Bankhead Reservoir’s spotted bass? A recent tournament on the lake took five spotted bass weighing 26.57 pounds to win. Alabama Game and Fish recently monitored tournament results on more than 30 Alabama lakes and no lake produced a better percentage of 5-pound-or-better bass than Bankhead Reservoir. The lake produced 73 5-pound-or-better bass in just 27 tournaments. The lake also has an excellent population of largemouth bass. The lake also produced the largest bass taken in the more than 200 tournaments on 30 lakes monitored by the state. That bass weighed 9.66 pounds.