The first week of February marks the beginning of the fishing season schedule for 21 of Alabama’s 23 state-owned public fishing lakes. Commonly known as state lakes or county lakes, these waters are noted for their quality fishing for bream, largemouth bass, channel catfish and crappie (most lakes).
Because these smaller lakes warm more quickly than larger bodies of water, early spring fishing can be excellent. Anglers may fish from the pier, bank, rental boat or personal boat. Before traveling to a particular lake, anglers should call ahead to determine the lake’s operational schedule.
“State public fishing lakes are the ultimate family fishing destination,” said Matthew Marshall, State Lakes Supervisor for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF). “All lakes that are opening have a concession building with snacks, drinks, restrooms and personnel who can provide fishing advice. The concessionaires have mowed areas along the shoreline for fishing. Grills are available for picnicking and children have room to play if they tire of catching fish.”
DeKalb and Pike County Lakes reopened in June of 2016. These lakes were renovated and restocked and should be easy fishing for anglers this spring. Fayette County Lake is currently closed and restocking efforts are underway. In addition, Chambers County Lake will be temporarily closed until a new lake manager is appointed.
Fishing is an affordable and easily accessible recreational opportunity for all Alabamians. Each state lake offers boats for rent ($5) and launching of private fishing boats ($3). No General Fund money is used to operate these lakes. Anglers pay for the management of the lakes with license fees, excise taxes and daily permits. A $3 daily permit is required at all lakes, and state fishing license requirements apply. Fishing licenses are available at most of the lakes or online here.
The WFF Fisheries Section carefully stocks and manages the lakes for optimum fishing. The lakes are fertilized for maximum fish production and fishing piers allow anglers to fish deeper water in a comfortable environment. The lakes are located throughout Alabama, mostly in rural areas. A complete list of state lakes can be found in the fishing section of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website, www.outdooralabama.com.
To contact a WFF fisheries biologist about what types of fish and the average sizes that are caught at specific lakes, anglers may call the appropriate district fisheries offices: Decatur, (256) 353-2634; Eastaboga, (256) 831-6860; Northport, (205) 339-5716; Spanish Fort, (251) 626-5153; or Enterprise, (334) 347-9467.