February 1 marks the beginning of fishing season for 22 of Alabama’s 23 State-owned Public Fishing Lakes. Located throughout the state, these lakes are noted for their quality fishing for bream, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and crappie (in most lakes). Because these smaller lakes warm more quickly than larger bodies of water, early spring fishing can be excellent.
Washington County Public Fishing Lake remains closed while restocking efforts are underway.
Fishing is an affordable and easily accessible recreational opportunity for all Alabamians. Each State Public Fishing Lake offers boats for rent ($5) and launching of private fishing boats ($3). A daily permit and state fishing license are required to fish in the lakes. Anglers may fish from the pier, bank, rental boat or personal boat.
“Alabama’s public fishing lakes are a great family fishing destination,” said Jonathan Brown, Public Fishing Lake Biologist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). “Not only do the lakes offer great fishing, they have concession buildings with snacks, drinks, restrooms, and personnel who can provide fishing advice.”
The WFF Fisheries Section carefully stocks and manages the lakes for optimum fishing. The lakes are also fertilized to maximize fish production and fishing piers allow anglers easy access to deeper water.
In addition to traditional freshwater game species such as largemouth bass and crappie, WFF also stocks rainbow trout in both Madison and Walker county lakes during winter.
No General Fund money is used to operate Alabama’s State Public Fishing Lakes. Anglers pay for the management of the lakes through license fees, excise taxes on certain outdoors equipment, and daily fishing permits.
Anglers can call their district fisheries office for specific information about the types of fish and average sizes caught at each lake. Contact information: District 1 in Tanner, Ala., 256-353-2634; District 2 in Eastaboga, Ala., 256-831-6860; District 3 in Northport, Ala., 205-339-5716; District 4 in Enterprise, Ala. 334-347-9467; District 5 in Spanish Fort, Ala., 251-626-5153.
Before traveling to a State Public Fishing Lake, anglers should call ahead to determine the operational schedule. A complete list of state lakes and contact information can be found in the fishing section of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website, www.outdooralabama.com.