Fishing in Lake Jordan
Background: Located twenty-five miles due north of the city of Montgomery in central Alabama, Lake Jordan is a 6,800-acre impoundment on the Coosa River with 188 miles of shoreline. The Mitchell Dam tailwater area at the upper end of the lake is a popular recreational area to many anglers with ample bank fishing access. Lake Jordan was impounded by Alabama Power Company in 1928; however, in 1967, Bouldin Dam was completed which impounded an adjacent basin that connects Lake Jordan by a short canal. Lake Jordan is very fertile and supports high densities of sport fish and forage species. The lake was constructed to provide flood control, and supply hydroelectricity; however, the lake has become very popular for various types of recreation including boating, swimming and fishing.
Public and private boat ramps, as well as several private marinas provide access to Lake Jordan. Two popular public boating access areas include Bonner’s Point on the west side of the lake and Rotary Landing to the east. Several private marinas located on the main lake and up river near Mitchell Dam also include boat ramps. Topographic maps of Lake Jordan are available at local marinas and sporting goods stores.
Fishery: The most common sport fish found in Lake Jordan include the Alabama spotted bass, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and black and white crappie. Popular non-game fish include channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish. Primary forage species include both threadfin shad and gizzard shad. Overall, the status of the fish population in Lake Jordan remains unchanged from the 1980s.
Like many other fertile impoundments, the potential of this fishery is limited by poor early life survival and high mortality of fish during their first winter. However, growth of important sport fish species such as black bass and crappie exceed the statewide average. Largemouth and spotted bass are similar in abundance, and their recruitment is fairly stable. However, like other Coosa River impoundments, crappie recruitment is highly variable.
Most anglers are very satisfied with the bass fishing on Lake Jordan because it has remained very consistent during the last 20 years. Based on overall quality of bass fishing, Jordan Reservoir ranked 6th of 20 reservoirs that had 5 or more tournaments. Jordan also ranked 2nd for average pounds of bass caught per day and 4th for average weight of bass caught. These reports also suggest that total bass catch rates have increased in the last few years.
Sampling: Sampling work in 2009 revealed that the abundance of largemouth and spotted bass has remained stable in recent years. Growth rates of both largemouth bass and spotted bass in Lake Jordan are among the fastest in the state; in 5 years, these species can easily exceed 18 inches in length. Recent sampling suggested that both largemouth bass and spotted bass populations are dominated by large fish; even larger than observed in 2005.
A strong year-class of crappie were produced in 2005, and occupied 49% of the total sample in 2009. This year-class of crappie should continue to sustain the fishery until another strong year-class is produced. Crappie growth and condition remain excellent as is typical with nutrient-rich impoundments. Creel surveys conducted in 2009 indicated that anglers harvested 7% of bass and 70% of crappie caught from Lake Jordan. The low harvest rates of bass is primarily why a more restrictive length limit would have no apparent affect on the fishery in Lake Jordan.
Stocking: The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division has stocked numerous sport fish into Lake Jordan beginning in 1969, which include Florida largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass, and striped bass. The Division currently stocks hybrid striped bass at a rate of 6 per acre, annually.
Fishing: The most productive times to fish are during spring and fall; however, during the summer months, nighttime catfish and bass fishing can also be very good. Largemouth bass are more cover oriented and are usually caught by fishing in or near dense water willow stands that grow near the shoreline. Spotted bass are more structure oriented and can be caught from various habitat-types including, points, humps, ledges, rock-piles, and vegetation.
Popular bass lures include willow-leaf spinnerbaits in white or shad color patterns, topwater chuggers and walking baits in shad colors, hard and soft plastic jerk-baits, and Carolina-rigged centipedes or finesse worms in various shades of green. Numerous bass tournaments are held at Bonner’s Point on the western shore and Rotary Landing on the eastern shore, with night tournaments generally being held during the week and daytime tournaments taking place on weekends.
Crappie often congregate around shallow woody debris during springtime and can be caught using live minnows. During winter months, crappie frequently remain in large schools suspended just below the surface in open water and can be caught by trolling light-weight jigs tipped with live minnows.
Bluegills, shellcrackers, and other sunfish species are abundant and are often found along weed beds, backwater sloughs and in shallow coves. Live crickets or tiny beetle-spins are the best choices when targeting bluegill. Fishing for bluegill is usually best near the first full moon in May, but remains good throughout the summer. Bluegill spawning areas can be identified by the clusters of circular depressions in shallow water areas protected from wind and wave action. Peak spawning activity usually occurs near the full moon during summertime.
"Jug-fishing" is also a very popular fishing method for catfish on Lake Jordan. The jugs are usually baited with chicken liver, nightcrawlers, or cut shad and are allowed to drift down the river with the current just above the bottom. Early summer is the best time to catch catfish.
The Bouldin Canal on the south end of the lake provides a unique fishing opportunity. When hydroelectricity is being generated at Bouldin Dam, a strong current flows through the canal. The current attracts many species of fish that sometimes feed heavily during power generation. Contact Alabama Power Company at 1-800-LAKES11 for tentative generation schedules.
Bass fishing quality at Jordan Reservoir is assessed from bass club tournament results.
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.
Contact the Fisheries Section's District II office for specific questions about Lake Jordan.
Lake Mitchell tailwaters are the headwaters of Jordan Lake. Alabama Power Company provides bank access on the west side of the dam, just of AL Hwy 22.