Fishing in Wheeler Reservoir
Background: Wheeler Reservoir is located in north central Alabama, halfway between Birmingham and Nashville. This TVA lake is Alabama's second largest reservoir, and Wheeler Lake stretches 60 miles from Guntersville Dam to Wheeler Dam near Rogersville. The upper end of the reservoir is a run-of-the-river reservoir as it goes past Huntsville and begins spreading out near Decatur. Stump flats, weed beds, and creek channels are popular locations in the middle section. The lower end has many steep banks and long points.
Fisheries: Bass fishing is the most popular fishery in Wheeler Reservoir. Largemouth bass are the primary species, but smallmouth bass are common from Decatur to the west end, especially from Elk River down. The northern subspecies of spotted bass are also common, and spots are found primarily near the main channel.
This reservoir is home to quality fishing for a variety of fish. Catfish fishing is excellent; and William McKinley caught the previous world record blue catfish, 111 pounds, from Wheeler Reservoir on July 5, 1996. Bream fishing is excellent, also. Crappie grow exceptionally fast here. Sauger run upstream during the winter and early spring, and are caught below Guntersville Dam. Striped, hybrid and white bass make spring runs, and can be caught schooling during the summer.
Sampling: Electrofishing in April, 2008, revealed a largemouth bass population consisting primarily of fish from 12 to 15 inches in length. Numbers of bass above 15 inches are below the Alabama reservoir average. Bass anglers can expect better than average catch rates of bass up to lengths of 15 inches or 1 - 1.5 pounds, but anglers will have to work hard to find larger fish. Fast growth from these plump 12- to 15-inch bass should result in better than average numbers of 15-inch and larger bass in 2009.
Fishing: Common baits for bass include crankbaits, Carolina rigs, plastic worms, spinner baits and shaky-head rigged finesse worms. If you are fishing the Decatur flats, you better try throwing a frog/rat type lure in the milfoil. Dark jigs cast on points and along bluff walls at night are good for smallmouth bass in the lower reservoir. Bream are found in shallow-gravelly areas during the spawn. Look for bream along the bluffs and banks during the occasional willow fly hatches during the summer.
Bass fishing quality at Wheeler Reservoir is assessed here.
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Contact the Fisheries Section's District I office for specific questions about Wheeler Reservoir.