Fishing in Smith Lake (Lewis Smith Lake)

Like a diamond that is deep, clear and blue, Lewis Smith Lake is one of Alabama’s treasures. Located in Walker, Winston and Cullman counties, this 21,200-acre lake is different than most other Alabama reservoirs. If you typically fish a shallow, stained body of water, then your first trip onto Smith Lake can be intimidating. Watching your depth finder jump to 200 plus feet can leave you feeling lost. However, like most lakes, the majority of bass, bream and crappie fishing is done by casting to the numerous large rocks and fallen trees along the shoreline. With 500 plus miles of shoreline, it isn’t that difficult to find fish. An hour north of Birmingham or south of Huntsville and just off I-65, the lake is not difficult to find.


Dale Welch holds a striped bass for a client.

The overall population of black bass in the lake is good. According to the April, 2007 electrofishing survey by fisheries biologists with the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, largemouth bass and spotted bass were captured at the same rate. Sixteen percent (16%) of the black bass population exceeded fifteen inches (15"). This is a slight increase above that of 2003. The spotted bass population has responded well to the slot limit and has shown a positive shift towards larger fish, while the largemouth bass population has improved at a lesser degree.


Smith Lake also produces monster striped bass. Fish in the 40+ pound range are present, and some anglers feel a 50+ pound Smith Lake record should be caught soon. Anglers have fought several huge fish that broke off. One angler hooked a fish that, "had to go at least 70 pounds;" the big one that got away. Special striped bass regulations apply. Live shad, available locally, are the preferred bait. It is illegal to possess blueback herring in Alabama.

2005 data from Auburn University indicated the striped bass in Smith Lake grew about 2 pounds each year so a 20-pound fish is about ten years old.  Striped bass are a little fatter in the Ryan Creek arm.

Fly caught striped bass by John Eisenbarth during the winter near the dam.

Bass fishing quality at Smith Lake is assessed from bass club tournament results here.
Bass club tournament results are desperately needed for Smith Lake. 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 Smith Lake for fishing.

Contact the Fisheries Section's District III office for specific questions about Smith Lake.