Alabama's Best Bass Lakes

Top Ten Bass Lakes In Alabama

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Alabama has some fantastic bass lakes, so it is hard to decide which ones are best. The Bass Angler Information Team (BAIT) statistics can help guide you, depending on what you want. Some lakes are better for numbers of bass and others are best for bigger fish. And a few offer the best of both. 

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Lake Guntersville

Marshall County CVB/flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Lake Guntersville is known worldwide in the bass fishing world as a great place to catch big bass. Tournament limits of five fish often weight between 25 and 30 pounds, and bigger limits are caught each year.

In the Alabama Bass Angler Information Trail (BAIT) statistics, Guntersville ranks first in Average Weight of Bass and the least amount of time to catch a bass weighing over five pounds. If it is big bass you want, go to Guntersville. But be aware that it does not rank as high on catch rate per angler hour, so you will not catch a lot of bass on most trips.

Guntersville is a shallow, grass filled lake, so expect to fish a variety of shallow baits most of the year. And take a stout tackle.

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Aliceville Lake

Aliceville Lake Bass
Nice Aliceville Lake Bass Caught By Steven Fikes. 2009 Ronnie Garrison, licensed to

Aliceville is a small lake in southwest Alabama that does not get a lot of publicity but is an excellent lake, especially early in the spring. Also called Pickensville by some, it is an 8300-acre impoundment formed by a lock-and-dam on the Tombigbee River west of Tuscaloosa, right on the state line.

In the BAIT survey, Aliceville ranked first in both bass pre-angler day and pounds-per-angler-day. It was third in angler success and second in the least amount of time required to catch a bass over five pounds. Those facts helped it rank first overall in the state.

Aliceville is very much a river lake with big areas of very shallow water backed up into what were swamps. Expect to fish grass and stumps; early in the year is a good time to fish it.

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Pickwick Lake

Pickwick is a 43,100-acre lake with 490 miles of shoreline. Although its dam is in Tennessee and some waters back up into Mississippi, most of the lake is in Alabama. Two locks at the dam provide barge traffic access, as does the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway.

In the BAIT survey, Pickwick ranked second overall in the state due to its second place on average bass weight and pounds-per-angler day. It also ranked third on least amount of time to catch a bass over five pounds, and fourth on bass per-angler-day.

Pickwick is known for its smallmouth bass and five-fish limits weighing over 20 pounds are common. The lake is very varied from the dam to the upper reaches of the river, and a wide variety of baits work, from jig and pig to jerk baits.

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Wilson Lake

Wilson Lake is a TVA lake on the Tennessee River that is 11 miles long and covers 15,930 acres of water. Dammed in 1925, the lake backs up to the Wheeler Lake dam and is at the headwaters of Pickwick Lake. It has an excellent population of both smallmouth and largemouth bass that feed heavily in September, fattening up for the winter.

Wilson Lake places third overall on the BAIT survey due to top ten placement in all five categories. It was fifth in pounds-per-angler-day and sixth in bass per-angler-day, so it is good for both weight and numbers.

Wilson has a good river channel for ledge and shell bed fishing and has many creeks and coves where the bass move to spawn. Everything from big crank baits to plastics will catch fish here.

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Lake Jordan

Jordan is a 6800-acre Alabama Power lake on the Coosa River, 25 miles north of Montgomery. It backs up to the Mitchell Lake dam and connects to Lake Bouldin with a short canal. Jordan was built-in 1928 and Bouldin added in 1967. Bouldin is a good largemouth lake, but the big spots live in Jordan and are the target of most bass fishermen.

Jordan ranked 4th overall in the BAIT survey, based on a 6th in three categories: percent success, average bass weight, and pounds-per- angler-day.  It is consistently good in many ways.

Jordan is lined with docks but has lots of wood and rock cover to fish, too. It is an excellent night-fishing lake where black spinnerbaits shine, but plastic baits on jig heads and Texas rigs work well during the day.

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Mitchell Lake

Mitchell's size and location mean it is often overlooked. It is a 5,850- acre Alabama Power lake on the Coosa River between Lay and Jordan Lakes. It has 147 miles of shoreline, and there was a lot of wood and rock cover left in the lake when it was dammed in 1922. The lake is very fertile and has a good population of bass and the baitfish they feed on.

In the Alabama Bass Angler Information Team report, Mitchell ranks seventh in the state in numbers of bass caught per-angler-day, a good indication of the numbers of bass in the lake. There were not a lot of tournaments reported on the lake, but in those reported, the average bass weighed 1.67 pounds.

Fish small crank baits, spinner baits and jig head worms around shoreline cover for spots here.

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Logan Martin

Built in 1965 by Alabama Power on the Coosa River east of Birmingham, Logan Martin is 48.5 miles from the dam to headwaters and has 15,263 acres of water filled with river ledges, grass beds, and docks. Water releases and power generation at the Logan Martin dam as well as from the Neely Henry dam upstream create current that helps make the bass feed.

There is a good population of largemouth in the lake but spotted bass seem to dominate tournament catches. In the BAIT survey for 2007 Logan Martin ranked first in percent of angler success and third in bass and pounds landed per-angler-day. The average bass weight and hours to catch a bass over five pounds ranked 19th. So expect to catch a lot of keeper bass, but bigger bass will be harder to come by.

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Lay Lake

Lay Lake, just south of Birmingham, was formed by damming the Coosa River in 1914. Lay is an old Alabama Power Lake full of largemouth and Coosa River spots. It's 12,000 acres extend for about 50 miles along the river, and its waters are fertile, producing healthy fish.

Lay is 8th on the BAIT overall list and places 8th in percent angler success and bass per-angler-day. It also ranks 11th on an average weight of bass, so it is a very good all-around lake.

The extensive grass beds and ledges on Lay hold both largemouth and spots, but it is well-known for its big Coosa spotted bass. Big crankbaits and plastics on the ledges work well with swimming jigs, topwater and spinnerbaits drawing strikes in the grass. At times, a vibrating bait is tops.

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Wheeler lake

Covering 60 miles on the Tennessee River, Wheeler is the second biggest Alabama Lake. This TVA lake runs from the Guntersville dam to the Wheeler dam and goes from a river run to huge flats near Decatur, through a highland-type reservoir toward the dam. Dammed in 1936, it contains 67,000 acres of water and over 1000 miles of shoreline.

Wheeler is 9th on the BAIT overall ranking but ranks 7th in bass per-angler-day, so the catch rate is pretty high. It ranks 10th in percent success and 9th in pounds per angler day, so it is a good lake overall.

Like other Tennessee River lakes, Wheeler has good smallmouth and largemouth, but largemouth is the main tournament catch. Work for the ledges and grass beds with spinnerbaits and plastics for them.

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Lake Martin

Lake Martin is my favorite lake in the south. It is a beautiful 44,000-acre Alabama Power lake north of Montgomery. It is a deep, clear lake full of rocks, docks, humps, brush piles and spotted bass. There are also lots of largemouth in the lake. You can find just about any kind of fishing you prefer somewhere on the lake.

Ranking 10th on the BAIT survey, the fishing is good for numbers of bass with a percent success rate second in the state. The average bass weight is small, and Martin ranks 19th in that category. You will catch a lot of keeper-size spotted bass. They fight well, but the average size is under two pounds.

Small crankbaits, jigs and topwater shine on Martin. If there is any wind, throw a big spinnerbait.