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Bankhead Reservoir

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Fish and Fishing in
Bankhead Reservoir

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James Bramlett with a potential world record striped bass, 70-pounds.
Mr. James Bramlett caught a 69-pound, 9-ounce striped bass (46.75" length, 37.75" girth) in the upper Bankhead Reservoir on February 28, 2013. This is an Alabama and a world record for an inland striped bass. The fish was found to be 22 years old and of the Gulf strain.

Bankhead Reservoir contains 9,200 acres and is the second largest lake on the Warrior River. Located approximately 15 miles west of Birmingham and 30 miles northeast of Tuscaloosa, Bankhead Reservoir flows through Walker, Jefferson and Tuscaloosa Counties. The primary uses for this reservoir are navigation, hydroelectric generation, flood control, and recreation. Development of shoreline property is extensive and includes private residences and commercial marinas. Camping, boating and fishing provide the main recreational opportunities on this reservoir.
Several marinas and fish camps provide boat docking and storage, fueling facilities, launching ramps, restaurants, groceries, bait, and supplies. Five public facility use areas and fourteen user fee areas are located on Bankhead Reservoir. Nearby, for hunting, is the Mulberry Fork Wildlife Management Area (WMA). This is leased land available for hunting that is managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. A Mulberry Fork WMA permit, a WMA license, and the regular hunting license are required to hunt the Management Area.
Alabama Power Company impounded Bankhead Reservoir in 1915. Bankhead Lake is best known for catches of largemouth bass and spotted bass. Largemouth bass up to 16 inches are abundant with lower numbers of larger bass. Trophy potential exists in backwater areas. The spotted bass have modest numbers of 8- to 13-inch fish but lower numbers of larger fish. Better opportunities for anglers to catch spotted bass are found in lower sections of the reservoir.
The crappie growth in this reservoir is excellent, and the fish caught are usually large. The number of crappie are relatively low due to poor recruitment in recent years. In 1993 a 9-inch minimum length limit was implemented on crappie to protect younger fish and has been well supported by anglers.
Another popular sport fish in Bankhead Lake are hybrid striped bass. Hybrids in the 3-8 pound range are commonly caught in swift tailrace and headwaters in spring and fall. The headwaters of Bankhead Reservoir are the Smith Lake tailwaters. The former world and current state record hybrid (25 lb. 15 oz.) was caught in headwaters in 1996.
In addition to hybrid striped bass, the Bankhead Reservoir headwaters (Smith Lake tailwaters) are excellent fisheries for rainbow trout, catfish, various sunfish, largemouth bass and spotted bass. Beginning several years ago, the stocking rate for trout was increased to seven stockings annually. Each stocking usually consists of 3,000 rainbow trout. Seasonally, the skipjack herring fishery is tremendous.
It is illegal to possess blueback herring Duane Raver's Blueback Herring courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Alabama. Regulations designate legal capture methods for bait and specify additional species that may not be used for bait.

Link list (disclaimer):

Fishing license information may be found at: www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/license/. Instant licensing is available via the Internet (2% fee), via the telephone by calling 1-888-848-6887 ($3.95 fee), or at 900 vendors and probate offices in Alabama. All youth age 15 and younger fish for free.

Possession and creel limits for Alabama public waters are listed at: www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/regulations/

Bass fishing quality at Bankhead Lake is assessed from bass club tournament results here.
If you are a member of a bass club, please consider being a part of our Bass Angler Information Team. We use information from clubs to help better manage your lakes for fishing.

State fish management information and Alabama reservoir location, size and elevation are listed at: www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/where/reservoirs/

The U.S. Corps of Engineers information on Bankhead Reservoir is listed at: www.sam.usace.army.mil/

Fishing Guide:
Reed Montgomery, www.fishingalabama.com/ 1-205-663-1504, ALABASSGYD@aol.com

Information concerning lodging and recreation near the Bankhead Reservoir is listed at: the Walker County Chamber of Commerce (for Tuscaloosa County) www.tcvb.org/ and (for Birmingham or Jefferson County area) www.birminghamal.org.

Bass fishing reports for Lake Bankhead may be available at: www.wmi.org/bassfish/reports/alabama/.
Current water levels may be found for Bankhead Dam at: iwin.nws.noaa.gov/iwin/al/hydro.html

Additional general information is found under "Bankhead Lake" at: al.com/parks/north.html

It shall be unlawful to intentionally stock or release any fish, mussel, snail, crayfish or their embryos including bait fish into the public waters of Alabama under the jurisdiction of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries as provided in Rule 220-2-.42 except those waters from which it came without the written permission of a designated employee of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources authorized by the Director of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries to issue such permit. The provisions of this rule shall not apply to the incidental release of bait into the water during the normal process of fishing.

The Fisheries Section’s District Supervisor can answer specific questions about Bankhead Reservoir by sending mail to: Jay.Haffner@dcnr.alabama.gov.

Prepared by: Fisheries Section, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This site is presented for information only; the Fisheries Section cannot be responsible for the quality of information or services offered through linked sites, disclaimer. To have your site included, send your URL, email address, or telephone number to the Fisheries Web Master, doug.darr@dcnr.alabama.gov. The Fisheries Section reserves the right to select sites based on relevant and appropriate content, of interest to our viewers. If you discover errors in the content or links of this page, please contact Doug Darr. Thank you.

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