February 1 marked the return of fishing season at 20 of Alabama’s 23 State Public Fishing Lakes. Commonly known as state lakes or county lakes, these waters are noted for their amenities and their quality fishing for bream, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and crappie (in some lakes). Because these smaller lakes warm more quickly than larger reservoirs, early spring fishing can be excellent. Anglers may fish from the pier, bank, rental boat or personal boat.
“State public fishing lakes are the ultimate family fishing destination,” said Jack Turner, State Lakes Supervisor for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF). “All lakes except Pike County Lake have a concession building with snacks, drinks, restrooms and personnel who provide fishing advice. The concessionaires have mowed areas along the shoreline for fishing. Grills are available for picnicking, and children have room to play when they tire of catching fish.”
Bibb County Lake will reopen this spring, but the date has not been set. Facilities at Bibb County Lake were damaged by the April 2011 tornadoes, but the fish population is ready for anglers to harvest. Two other state lakes are scheduled to reopen later this year: Barbour County Lake and Lee County Lake. Barbour has been waiting for a new manager, and Lee County Lake was drained and restocked for a late spring opening.
Fishing is an affordable and easily accessible recreational opportunity for all Alabamians. Each State Public Fishing Lake, except Pike, offers boats for rent ($5) and launching of private fishing boats ($3). Essentially all work by the WFF Fisheries Section is paid for by anglers; no General Fund money is used. A $3 daily permit is required at all lakes except Pike County Lake. State fishing license requirements apply at all these lakes.
The WFF Fisheries Section manages State Public Fishing Lakes for optimum fishing. Many of the lakes received a stocking of catchable channel catfish this winter. The lakes are fertilized for maximum fish production, and fishing piers allow anglers to fish deeper water without a boat. Located in mostly rural areas of Alabama, State Public Fishing Lakes make a great fishing trip destination. 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 biologist about what types of fish and the average sizes that are caught at the lakes, anglers may call district 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 (ADCNR) promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.
Logo courtesy Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources