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Upper Bear

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Fish and Fishing in
Upper Bear Creek Reservoir

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Background:  Upper Bear Creek Reservoir was impounded in 1978 mostly as a flood control reservoir and holds 1,850 acres of water at full pool.  Located near the town of Bear Creek and in the corners of Franklin, Winston, and Marion Counties, Upper Bear is one of four Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reservoirs operated by the Bear Creek Development Authority for flood control and recreation.  The shoreline of Little Bear Creek Reservoir has little residential development.  Camping and fishing provide the main recreational opportunities.  Four public access areas (Twin Forks, Mon Dye, Quarter Creek, and Batestown) and one campground (Twin Forks) service the reservoir.  BCDA requires a fishing permit ($3/day or $20/year) in addition to an Alabama state fishing license.  Pre-impoundment topographic maps are available through the TVA. 

Fishery:  Upper Bear Creek Reservoir is known best for its black bass (largemouth and spotted) fishing, but fishing for crappie, catfish and bream is good also.  The lake is renowned for its trophy bass fishing.  Fish over 5 pounds are common, with 8 pound and larger bass being taken each year.  According to the 1995-2005 Alabama B.A.I.T. reports, Upper Bear has been ranked first-5 times and second-3 times, for the least number of angling hours exerted to catch a bass in excess of 5 pounds.  In 2005, it took an average of 114 tournament-angler hours to catch a bass over 5 pounds, ranking it number 1 in Alabama.

The spotted bass population is comprised of higher than average abundance of fish from 11-14 inches, and average abundance of fish from 14-17 inches. Spotted bass seem to be increasing in abundance and now appear as frequently as largemouth bass on the end of anglers’ fishing lines.

Though noted for as a large bass fishery, adequate bass catch data is lacking for Upper Bear Creek Reservoir. Organized bass tournaments would help WFF manage the resource better by submitting their tournament results to the Bass Anglers Information Team (BAIT) program. These catch data will be analyzed, compared to other reservoirs in Alabama, and will also compliment the electrofishing data collected from the reservoir. For more information regarding the BAIT program and instructions on how to submit your tournament results, please contact: Mr. Damon Abernethy by phone at (334) 242-3471 or by email at Damon.Abernethy@dcnr.alabama.gov.

The crappie population in Upper Bear Creek Reservoir is a moderately dense population of fast growing fish. They reach 9 inches in length during their second growing season. To protect this fast growing population of crappie there is a 9-inch minimum size limit.

Sampling:  Sampling in 2010 revealed a largemouth bass population with average abundance of 15-20 inch fish. Largemouth bass greater than 20 inches in length appear at twice the Alabama average, providing anglers a good chance of catching a 5-pound or bigger largemouth bass.

Spotted bass are as common as largemouth bass, and spotted bass seem to be increasing in abundance. The majority of the spots are 11-13 inches in length, but trophy sized spots are also present.

The crappie population is fast growing with fish reaching harvestable size during their second growing season. The majority of crappie measure 8-12 inches in length.

Stocking:  Upper Bear Creek Reservoir was stocked with 18,500 (100/acre) Florida strain largemouth bass in 1978 in an attempt to incorporate the Florida bass genetics into the population.  During 2005, 18,324 channel catfish were stocked, and in 2008, 18,647 channel catfish were stocked. In 2010, 27,588 channel catfish were stocked. No other fish have been stocked, but all species are reproducing successfully on their own.

Fishing:  Upper Bear Creek Reservoir is an infertile reservoir with clear water.  During the summer months the reservoir stratifies, and the best oxygen levels are in the upper 14 feet of water. The majority of the fish will be in this zone.

Traditional bass baits such as crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, and plastic worms all work well.  Crappie can be located in brush tops, adjacent to riprap, or suspended above the old creek channel. They can be enticed to bite small jigs or minnows.

Upper Bear Creek Reservoir in Marion County has a fish consumption advisory. Information on the consumption advisory may be found at the Alabama Department of Public Health Web site, www.adph.org. Consumption advisory information is found under "A-Z Contents" by looking for "Fish Consumption Advisories."

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.

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