February 1 marks the beginning of the fishing season schedule for 20 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 will reopen later this year, but the dates have not been set. These lakes were renovated and restocked and will be ready for anglers to fish by summer. In addition, Fayette County Lake is currently closed. Plans are underway to renovate the lake later in the fall. Fayette County Lake will reopen in the summer of 2018 after allowing time for the fish to grow and spawn.
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 their management with license fees, excise taxes and daily permits. A $3 daily permit is required at all lakes, and state fishing license requirements apply.
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, 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; Anniston, (256) 831-6860; Northport, (205) 339-5716; Spanish Fort, (251) 626-5153; or Enterprise, (334) 347-9467.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.