Fish and Fishing in Bankhead Reservoir
Bankhead Reservoir contains 9,200 acres and is the second largest lake on the Warrior River. Located approximately 15 miles west of Birmingham and 30 miles northeast of Tuscaloosa, Bankhead Reservoir flows through Walker, Jefferson and Tuscaloosa Counties. The primary uses for this reservoir are navigation, hydroelectric generation, flood control, and recreation. Development of shoreline property is extensive and includes private residences and commercial marinas. Camping, boating and fishing provide the main recreational opportunities on this reservoir.
Several marinas and fish camps provide boat docking and storage, fueling facilities, launching ramps, restaurants, groceries, bait, and supplies. Five public facility use areas and fourteen user fee areas are located on Bankhead Reservoir. Nearby, for hunting, is the Mulberry Fork Wildlife Management Area (WMA). This is leased land available for hunting that is managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. A Mulberry Fork WMA permit, a WMA license, and the regular hunting license are required to hunt the Management Area.
Alabama Power Company impounded Bankhead Reservoir in 1915. Bankhead Lake is best known for catches of largemouth bass and spotted bass. Largemouth bass up to 16 inches are abundant with lower numbers of larger bass. Trophy potential exists in backwater areas. The spotted bass have modest numbers of 8- to 13-inch fish but lower numbers of larger fish. Better opportunities for anglers to catch spotted bass are found in lower sections of the reservoir.
The crappie growth in this reservoir is excellent, and the fish caught are usually large. The number of crappie are relatively low due to poor recruitment in recent years. In 1993 a 9-inch minimum length limit was implemented on crappie to protect younger fish and has been well supported by anglers.
Another popular sport fish in Bankhead Lake are hybrid striped bass. Hybrids in the 3-8 pound range are commonly caught in swift tailrace and headwaters in spring and fall. The headwaters of Bankhead Reservoir are the Smith Lake tailwaters.
In addition to hybrid striped bass, the Bankhead Reservoir headwaters (Smith Lake tailwaters) are excellent fisheries for rainbow trout, catfish, various sunfish, largemouth bass and spotted bass. Beginning several years ago, the stocking rate for trout was increased to seven stockings annually. Each stocking usually consists of 3,000 rainbow trout. Seasonally, the skipjack herring fishery is tremendous.
Contact the Fisheries Section's District III office for specific questions about Bankhead Reservoir.