Fishing in Harris Reservoir
Harris Reservoir, locally known as Lake Wedowee, is located in east-northeast Alabama near the town of Wedowee. The reservoir was formed by completion of R.L. Harris dam in 1983. The major rivers supplying water for the reservoir are the Tallapoosa and Little Tallapoosa rivers. These rivers merge just north of the Hwy 48 bridge about 8.5 river miles from R.L. Harris Dam. The reservoir is 24 miles long, has approximately 271 miles of shoreline, and covers 10,660 acres. Harris Reservoir is the newest of Alabama Power’s 14 hydropower lakes in Alabama.
Sampling: In 2009, the percentage of largemouth bass from 15-20 inches was at an all time high since 1991, and the percentage of bass in the sample greater than 20 inches was similar to the statewide average for Alabama reservoirs. Condition or plumpness of largemouth bass remained low, but is directly related to the low fertility of Harris Reservoir, which results in low numbers of forage species for bass. An increase of larger spotted bass (longer than 15 inches) was detected, and catch rates of spotted bass have improved compared to 2007. Condition was also low for spotted bass in 2009, but condition did improve compared to the 2007 sample. An increase in harvest of both largemouth bass below the slot, and spotted bass of all sizes should improve growth and condition of the bass populations.
Fishing: Bass are frequently targeted at Harris Reservoir around the numerous rocky points of the lake. Lures such as medium to deep diving crankbaits and Carolina-rigged soft plastics often produce good stringers of bass. One of the better largemouth bass fishing locations is Wedowee Creek, which is one of the more fertile tributaries on the Little Tallapoosa River. Harris Reservoir received the largest number of quality indicator points among Alabama Reservoirs in the 2008 B.A.I.T. report. Bluegill and shellcracker (redear sunfish) can be caught on live baits such as wigglers, night crawlers, or crickets, or with artificial baits such as small rooster tails, one-inch curly jigs, or small insect-imitating crankbaits. Shellcracker and bluegill fishing can be very good around the spring mayfly hatch, which can occur from late May through August, and is largely dependent upon weather and water temperature.
Crappie fishing at Harris Reservoir is best in the early spring when crappie congregate around blow downs along the main channel, or woody debris in the backs of the coves and tributaries. Live shiners is the preferred method for catching a limit of crappie, but at times, they can be caught by casting small jigs to the same type cover. Crappie can be caught during the summer months at night around lighted docks, where they move in to feed on baitfish that are attracted to the lights.
Yellow perch are a species that have relatively recently appeared in the Tallapoosa River drainage. They are easily identified by their six to nine black vertical saddles across the back, which extend to the white stomach region. A yellowish green coloration covers the rest of the body, while the pelvic and anal fins are orange to red. This species is in the same family as walleye and sauger (jack), but yellow perch do not get nearly as large. It is an excellent tasting fish with very firm, white flesh.
Catfish are best caught during the summer months on a variety of baits, but favorites are chicken liver and cut-bait. 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.
Bass fishing quality at Harris Lake is assessed from bass club tournament results here.
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