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Smith Lake

Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division logo

Fish and Fishing in
Smith Lake
(Lewis Smith Lake)

Sport Fish Restoration Logo

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.

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. For the slot limit to continue to restructure the black bass population, anglers are encouraged to keep bass less than 13 inches. This will result in both increased growth and overall size of the remaining bass. The creel limit is 10 black bass in combination (largemouth bass, spotted bass...) per day. The slot limit is 13 to 15 inches. Anglers must immediately release all black bass in the slot (13"-15"), but may keep black bass over 15 inches (15"). Remember, harvesting bass under 13 inches (13") is not only encouraged, but also recommended.


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.

Alabama Power Company has improved fishing by providing habitat in this lake. Coordinates of these habitat improvements are available as an Excel spreadsheet or a GPS download from www.alabamapower.com/community/lakes/fishing-information.asp.

Links (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 Smith Lake is assessed from bass club tournament results at www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/where/reservoirs/quality/.
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 and contact Mr. Damon Abernethy. We use information from clubs to help better manage Smith Lake for fishing.

A handicap accessible boating access is available at Smith Lake Park thanks to Cullman County and the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. Another boat ramp is at the Smith Lake Dam courtesy of Alabama Power Company and the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division.
State fish management information and Alabama reservoir location, size and elevation are listed at: www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/where/reservoirs/
Speegles Marina has a boat ramp usable at all water levels.

Alabama Power Company holds property rights around the lake as required by the Federal Government, so before you begin construction, make changes or additions to any structures or the shoreline, you need to call Alabama Power Company for a no-cost permit. An Alabama Power representative will meet with you. To schedule an appointment, call 1-205-221-9626 or 1-205-257-2274.

Anglers can fish from the bank on US Forest Service land, Bankhead National Forest, including the Sipsey Wilderness Area and Corinth, Houston and Clear Creek Recreational Areas, see: www.fs.fed.us/r8/alabama/recreation/rec_matrix.shtml

Smith Lake Park is owned by Cullman County, www.cullmancountyparks.com/smithlake.htm. The boat launch at Smith Lake Park has a new ADA compliant dock with a 40-foot walkway and a floating 16'X24' platform. This walkway is possible through Sport Fish Restoration funds, State Sen. Zeb Little, Cullman County Parks and Recreation Board, the Tennessee Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the Cullman County Parks Foundation Board. Smith lake Park has a rod and reel loaner program; they lend spincast fishing rods and reels to anglers. Lakeside cabins are available as well as picnic pavilions, camping hook-ups, tent campsites, swimming pool and water slide, carpet golf, boat launching and fishing.

Copyrighted largemoth bass drawing by Kalee Reid of Morris, Alabama - Grades 4-6 State Fish Art winnerRentals and camping at Hidden Cove Outdoor Resort, 1-205-7042, near Arley.
Lakeshore Inn and Marina has accommodations on the lake.

Local accommodations may be found through Alabama Tourism or the Cullman Chamber of Comerce: www.cullmanchamber.org/

Pontoon boats may be rented.

The Alabama record spotted bass came from Smith Lake on March 18, 1978. The eight-pound, fifteen-ounce fish was caught by Phillip C. Terry of Decatur.

Regional information may be found at the north Alabama regional tourism site, www.northalabama.org, (800) 648-5381, or email info@alabamamountainlakes.org. Smith Lake area accommodations "Directory."

Talk with anglers that fish Smith Lake at www.al.com/forums/fishing/.
Bass fishing reports are available at: www.wmi.org/bassfish/reports/alabama/. Look under "Smith" and "Lewis Smith."
See www.smithlakebass.com for bass fishing information.

Fishing tips for striped bass on Smith Lake may be found at: www.alabamastriperfishing.com/Fishing/.
Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries articles about striped bass include "Cool Striped Bass" and "The Spectacular Striped Bass" by Jerry Moss and "Striped Bass of the Coosa River System" by Steve Smith.

Current water levels may be found for Smith Dam at: http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov/iwin/al/hydro.html
Alabama Water Watch reports 1999 water quality via a pdf file here

Amy Sorensen and Seth Lucas Set World Marks Fishing Smith Lake.

Contact the following guides:
Dale Welch (striped bass), 1-256-737-0541 dwelch@hiwaay.net, www.alabamastriperfishing.com/
Bill Vines (striped bass), 1-205-647-7683 billcynthiar@bellsouth.net, www.stripefishingheadquarters.com
Rock Creek Stripers (striped bass), 1-205-613-7808, www.rockcreekstripers.com
Patrick Crocker (trolling for striped bass), 1-205-631-0026 or cell 1-205-566-2831
For fly fishing, Brandon Jackson, Riverside Fly Shop, riversideflyshop@gmail.com; 256-287-9582, www.riversideflyshop.com/.
Capt. Chris Jackson, chris@chrisjacksonfishing.com, 205-706-2425, chrisjacksonfishing.com
Reed Montgomery, www.fishingalabama.com/ 1-205-663-1504, ALABASSGYD@aol.com

Areas of Smith Lake have fish consumption advisories. Information on the consumption advisories may be found at the Alabama Department of Public Health Web site, www.adph.org. Consumption advisory information is found in "A-Z Contents" under "Fish Consumption Advisories.".

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.
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.

The Alabama Water Watch has published a report on this water.

The Fisheries Section's District III Supervisor can answer specific questions about Smith Lake 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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