Alabama is widely considered to be one of the top states in the country when it comes to largemouth bass fishing. The state’s many rivers and creeks flow into large reservoirs, combining with steep terrain to create a variety of different bass fishing opportunities in both shallow and deep water.
The state is teeming with various species of bass, including largemouth, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and many others. In this article, I’ll detail our top selections for the best lakes to catch bass in Alabama, as well as a few useful tips to keep in mind for visiting the waterways of the Cotton State.
Bass Species in Alabama
Anglers can expect to find a variety of different bass species in Alabama, depending on the specific region they are fishing. The northern counties around the Tennessee River are known to have healthy populations of smallmouth bass, while the southern half of the state’s lakes are almost exclusively filled with largemouth. Lakes and reservoirs throughout central Alabama often have healthy populations of black bass species that include spotted bass, shoal bass, and white bass.
The Best Alabama Bass Fishing Lakes
The following lakes are our selections for the best bass fishing destinations in Alabama. These picks are based on my personal experience as a bass angler for more than 20 years, having fished all across Alabama at all times of the year.
There is little argument among bass anglers over the fact that Lake Guntersville is the state’s capital for bass fishing. Lake Guntersville stretches more than 75 miles across northern Alabama, reaching from Guntersville Dam to Nickajack Dam, making it Alabama’s largest lake. This massive waterway spans nearly 68,000 acres and is full of grass beds, creek mouths, and plenty of trophy-sized largemouth bass.
There are numerous boat ramps you can use to launch into Lake Guntersville, but I prefer to put in at the southern end at Municipal Park during the warmer months. Throw a buzzbait in the early morning hours to elicit a strike from giant bass waiting in and around the grass beds. My go-to lure during the colder months is often a variety of different colored spinnerbaits.
Wheeler Lake is not far from Lake Guntersville, and it is certainly deserving to be mentioned among the top waterways for bass fishing. Wheeler Lake is located in Huntsville and was formed in 1936 when the state built a dam across the Tennessee River.
Anglers will likely find bass in the deeper water on Wheeler Lake during the mid-summer and winter, but my favorite time to fish this waterway is during the early spring when bass are still in the pre-spawn stage. Throw a jerkbait around stumps in roughly 15 feet of water to catch big female largemouth bass as they feed before going on bed.
Lake Martin is another large reservoir located in central Alabama that is well-known for bass fishing. This lake is formed in an area where steep hills and cliffs once overlooked large valleys. Lake Martin is nearly 150 feet deep in some sections, and there are plenty of opportunities to catch bass in deep water along this 41,500-acre reservoir.
The best bass fishing at Lake Martin is usually during the spring when largemouth bass and spotted bass tend to make their way up the Tallapoosa River to spawn. I like to target bass with a white spinnerbait around long points that lead into coves around the early-to-late spring season.
Bartlett’s Ferry Lake
Bartlett’s Ferry Lake is a hidden gem for those who are able to fish its pristine waters. This lake is situated in eastern Alabama, forming the border with Georgia. Its 5,600 acres make it rather small compared to other lakes we’ve mentioned thus far in our list, but Bartlett’s Ferry Lake has developed a reputation for producing big fish of all kinds throughout the years.
Striped bass are typically the main attraction at Bartlett’s Ferry, but anglers can catch plenty of largemouth bass and spotted bass. I prefer to use a weightless Zoom Super Fluke in shad color around the mouths of creeks that flow into the lake during the late spring or fall.
R.L. Harris Reservoir (Wedowee)
In my opinion, R.L. Harris Reservoir (known to locals as simply “Wedowee”) is arguably the best lake for bass fishing in Alabama when compared to others on a year-round basis. This is another lake that is found in eastern Alabama, and its 11,000 acres are located in the foothills section of the Appalachian Mountains.
The bass bite is often considerably good in the fall when bass chase schooling shad, but I’ve caught my personal best spotted bass by fishing with a weighted Zoom Super Fluke just above the tips of the submerged timber along the edges of the lake.
Lake Eufaula is known as the “Big Bass Capital” of the world. This waterway is formed by the Chattahoochee River, and anglers say that it has slightly declined in recent years due to overfishing. Many of the professional bass fishing tournaments often feature a stop at Lake Eufaula, which has likely contributed to any decline in bass fishing.
I prefer to catch bass at Lake Eufaula during the summer while fishing under the cover of darkness. Topwater lures work best, and it’s not uncommon to catch lunkers weighing in the double digits using various techniques.
Logan Martin Lake
Logan Martin Lake is the largest reservoir found along the Coosa River. This lake stretches more than 15,000 acres across central Alabama and is located directly east of Birmingham by about one hour’s drive.
Logan Martin Lake features a number of different creeks that flow into this waterway, providing plenty of forage for bass throughout different times of the year. There is an abundance of shad to be found in Logan Martin Lake, and my favorite lures to use here are spinnerbaits and small crankbaits.
The best fishing opportunity for catching bass in northern Alabama is Pickwick Lake. This 43,000-acre reservoir sits on the tri-state border between Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The lake covers the area from Wilson Dam to Pickwick Dam in Tennessee.
Pickwick Lake is best known for smallmouth bass fishing and features plenty of deep channels and brush piles where smallies tend to search for food nearby. I like to use a drop shot rig with a finesse worm to fish around the lake’s various brush piles during the fall for both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.
Bankhead Lake is another worthy addition to our list of the top Alabama lakes for bass fishing. This waterway is somewhat small compared to others in the area, but there are plenty of bass species to be caught in its 9,000 acres.
My best fishing experience on Bankhead Lake took place in late spring, just after most of the largemouth bass had spawned. During this time of year, I usually catch sizable bass using a Texas or Carolina-rigged worm along some of the points leading into spawning coves along Bankhead Lake’s north end.
Lewis Smith Lake
Lewis Smith Lake is located in the northern part of the state and features a variety of excellent bass fishing opportunities anglers can engage in. The main lake consists of more than 20,000 acres and is formed by the main river channel, which has numerous branches reaching out into the surrounding area.
Lewis Smith Lake offers plenty of shoreline cover for bass species to hide in and ambush their prey. I like to fish this lake during the early summer months using a wacky rigged Senko. By working the wacky rig in front of brush piles, I’m usually able to catch largemouth bass by coaxing them to emerge from the heavy cover.
Neely Henry Lake
Neely Henry Lake is situated in northeast Alabama near Gadsden and covers more than 11,000 acres of surface water. Neely Henry Lake is one of the smaller lakes in Alabama that often features national fishing tournaments and professional anglers.
Neely Henry Lake is one of my favorite places to fish for trophy-size largemouth bass along the Coosa River chain, especially in late winter when big female bass are getting ready to spawn. I like to fish around the Beaver Creek area, where the shoreline features lots of natural cover. I have caught monster bass along the upper region of the waterway where the Coosa River enters Neely Henry Lake.
Aliceville Lake is located in south Alabama and is one of the state’s best-kept secrets in terms of bass fishing. The lake is roughly 8,300 acres formed by a dam along the Tombigbee River near Tuscaloosa.
The fish tend to grow much bigger on Aliceville Lake, and bass anglers usually have no trouble catching largemouth that weigh more than 5 pounds. I like to fish using a topwater popper at night along the lake during the summer months, as the heat in south Alabama is nearly unbearable during the daytime hours.
Jordan Lake is another small reservoir in central Alabama that deserves a spot among the top destinations for our Alabama bass trail. Like most small bass lakes, Jordan Lake often gets heavily pressured during the spring and summer, but I have found that fishing is sometimes best during the fall.
There are lots of houses along the shoreline of Jordan Lake, each having its own dock in most cases. I have caught giant spotted bass and largemouth bass by throwing a crankbait in front of the docks and around the submerged timber found throughout the lake.
Mitchell Lake is another small reservoir found along the Coosa River near Clanton. This lake was dammed in 1922 and has since become a known stop for most in-state fishing circuits found on the Alabama bass trail.
With nearly 6,000 acres of surface water, there are numerous pockets that reach as far as 90 feet. Fishing is good at Lake Mitchell throughout the year, and anglers can catch striped bass during the spring and fall.
Lay Lake is yet another waterway formed by the Coosa River. This location is among the best bass fishing lakes in Alabama, and its 12,000 acres sit just south of Birmingham.
Bass anglers often catch Coosa River bass in Lay Lake, but the main attraction is usually striped bass or largemouth bass. I have caught a number of trophy bass along the creek channels and small coves of Lay Lake using 10-inch soft plastic worms rigged Texas-style.
Bass Fishing Techniques and Tips
Alabama bass fishing is as good as anywhere else in the world, and anglers typically use a wide variety of techniques and tactics to catch fish here. This state is well known for producing big bass, and using large artificial lures often pays off in the form of trophy fish. Fishing is best during the warmer months, but anglers still manage to catch giant largemouth bass throughout the cold months as well.
Alabama Bass Fishing Size and Bag Limits and Other Rules
Be sure to adhere to all state regulations when fishing in Alabama. The limit of black bass species in Alabama lakes is 10 fish per day, including smallmouth bass. Pay attention to different size limits on each lake, as most waterways only allow anglers to keep largemouth bass that are smaller than 13 inches or larger than 16 inches. There is no size limit for spotted bass.