Most Wanted Sport Fish

Alabama lakes and rivers abound with America’s most popular game fish – the largemouth bass – and many other members of the black bass family. The Alabama record was a monster lunker, weighing in at 16 lbs. 8 oz. – just imagine the fight of that hawg! When you hook a largemouth, you’d better be ready for its short, powerful runs as it tries to escape to cover. Put your skill to the test when you go for smallmouth bass; it’ll jump and fight aggressively on the surface in order to throw the hook. The Alabama record for smallmouth is 10 lbs 8 oz and for spots is 8 lbs 15 oz. Come fishing on the Alabama Bass Trail to see why we love fishing in this state.

The copyrighted information below is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.
¹ Cloutman and Olmstead in Fisheries (Vol. 8, No. 2)

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass

Scientific Name: Micropterus salmoides

Lakes: Lake Guntersville | Wheeler Lake | Pickwick Lake | Lewis Smith Lake | Neely Henry Lake | Logan Martin Lake | Lay Lake | Lake Jordan | Alabama River | Lake Eufaula | Mobile-Tensaw River Delta

The Official “Alabama State Freshwater Fish”

Other names: bigmouth bass, bucketmouth bass, openmouth bass, hog, hawg, lineside, bigmouth trout, green trout, pond trout, lake trout, chub, greenbass, Oswego bass, and Welshman¹

Characteristics: The largemouth bass is a heavy-bodied fish with 56 to 70 lateral line scales and a large mouth, with the upper jaw usually extending past the rear margin of the eye. The tongue lacks teeth.

Adult Size: 12 to 30 inches (300 to 762 mm)

Habitat and Biology: Largemouth bass are more tolerant of turbidity and slack current than are other Micropterus species. Spawning occurs from April to late May, when water temperatures reach 63º to 68ºF (17º to 20ºC).

Largemouth bass prey upon bluegills and redear sunfish in stocked ponds and upon shad, minnows, smaller sunfishes, crayfishes, and amphibians in natural habitats. Studies by biologists for the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division indicate an average life span of 10 to 12 years in Alabama.

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Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass

Scientific Name: Micropterus dolomieu

Lakes: Lake Guntersville | Wheeler Lake | Pickwick Lake

If you’re looking for the thrill of a tough top-water fight, go for the smallmouth bass.

Other Names: brown bass, browny, bronzeback, green trout, trout, river bass, redeye, jumper¹

Characteristics: The dorsal fin on the smallmouth bass is distinctly separated and contains nine to 11 spines and 13 to 15 rays. The mouth is relatively large, with the upper jaw almost reaching the rear margin of the eye. The eye may have a reddish tint.

Adult Size: 15 to 20 inches (380 to 508 mm)

Distribution: Smallmouth bass are native to the Tennessee River drainage.

Habitat and Biology: Smallmouth bass inhabit clear, small- to medium-sized streams, rivers, and reservoirs. They favor such underwater structures as rock outcrops, logs, treetops, and constructed riprap walls. Spawning usually occurs in April and May, when water temperatures reach 59º to 63ºF (15º to 18ºC) (Hubbs and Bailey, 1938).

Smallmouth feed primarily on small fishes, crayfishes, and insects (Hubert, 1977). Carlander (1977) reports life spans of six to 14 years in southern and northern populations.

Fish Facts: The tailwaters area below Wheeler Lock and Dam is one of the premier smallmouth fishing areas in North America, and several world line-class records have been set there in recent years. Most anglers fishing the tailwaters either drift or anchor below the dam while using live bait or bouncing artificial jigs along the bottom. The lower part of Wheeler Lake is also developing into a good smallmouth bass fishery. Live shad or other fish or crayfish often are used for bait. Hair jigs, plastic grubs and short-armed spinnerbaits are also popular. During mayfly hatches, fly-fishing is excellent.

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Redeye Bass

Redeye Bass

Scientific Name: Micropterus coosae

Lakes: Lewis Smith Lake | Neely Henry Lake | Logan Martin Lake | Lay Lake | Lake Jordan

The redeye bass is an excellent game fish, especially when taken on ultralight spinning tackle or a fly rod.

Other Names: Coosa bass, Chiploa bass

Characteristics: The redeye or Coosa bass is an elongate, slender fish with a large mouth that extends to or slightly behind the rear margin of the eye. A small tooth patch is present on the tongue. The upper and lower margins of the caudal fin are edged in white, a useful feature for separating redeye bass from both smallmouth bass and shoal bass.

Adult Size: 14 to 17 inches (356 to 432 mm)

Distribution: Endemic to the Mobile basin, redeye bass are distributed above the Fall Line in the Coosa and Tallapoosa river systems.

Habitat and Biology: The redeye inhabits small- to medium-sized upland streams and only rarely large rivers and impoundments. It is often found in water willow (Justicia) or other aquatic vegetation, near a submerged stump or boulder, or along an undercut bank. Juveniles occur in shallow runs and riffles over sand and gravel substrates. Spawning occurs from April to June. Diet includes aquatic and terrestrial insects, crayfishes, and small fishes.

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Shoal Bass

Shoal Bass

Scientific Name: Micropterus cataractae

Lakes: Lake Eufaula

Characteristics: The shoal bass and the redeye bass are easily confused, even though the two have non-overlapping ranges. The shoal bass does not have white fin margins nor teeth on the tongue.

Adult Size: 12 to 18 in (305 to 460 mm). Currently Alabama has a no harvest regulation for shoal bass.

Distribution: Shoal bass are endemic to the Apalachicola River drainage in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

Habitat and Biology: Shoal bass inhabit shoals and riffles of small to moderate fast-flowing streams and apparently avoid reservoirs. Carlander (1977) reports a diet of aquatic insect larvae, crayfish, and small fishes. Spawning occurs from later April into May.

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Spotted Bass

Spotted Bass

Scientific Name: Micropterus punctulatus

Lakes: Lake Guntersville | Wheeler Lake | Pickwick Lake | Lewis Smith Lake | Neely Henry Lake | Logan Martin Lake | Lay Lake | Lake Jordan | Alabama River | Lake Eufaula | Mobile-Tensaw River Delta

These scrappy little fish with bright orange eyes love rocky shorelines and coves. Although they rarely exceed three or four pounds, spots will put up a fight just like a little largemouth.

Other Names: Kentucky bass, linesides1, spots, and Alabama bass

Characteristics: The spotted bass is a slender fish with black blotches along the middle of the body; with age, these join to form an irregular band. Spots have a large mouth, the upper jaw extending almost to the rear margin of the eye. A rectangular tooth patch on the tongue distinguishes these species from largemouth bass. The eyes are usually reddish, but not as bright as those of redeye bass.

Adult Size: 12 to 17 in (300 to 432 mm)

Distribution: Spotted bass are native throughout Alabama with the possible exception of the Apalachicola River Basin. The Alabama bass is only found in the upper Mobile basin.

Habitat and Biology: Spotted bass usually occur around aquatic vegetation, submerged logs, and rock or riprap walls in small to large flowing streams, rivers, and reservoirs. Spawning occurs in April and May, often in the mouths of tributary streams. The male guards the nest until the fry have hatched. Food items include small fishes, crayfishes, and aquatic insects.

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White Bass

White Bass

Scientific Name: Morone chrysops

Lakes: Lake Guntersville | Wheeler Lake | Pickwick Lake | Lewis Smith Lake | Neely Henry Lake | Logan Martin Lake | Lay Lake | Lake Jordan | Alabama River | Lake Eufaula | Mobile-Tensaw River Delta

The spring spawning run is an ideal time to catch big white bass.

Other Names: stripe, striped bass, sand bass, barfish, rockfish, gray bass, and silver bass¹

Characteristics: At first glance, white bass resemble small striped bass with faint lateral stripes, but the white bass has only one tooth patch on the tongue. The head on the white bass is fairly small and pointed.

Adult Size: 10 to 15 in (254 to 380 mm)

Distribution: White bass are widely distributed in Alabama, but are only abundant in the Tennessee and Chattahoochee Rivers.

Habitat and Biology: White bass inhabit the surface and midwater areas of rivers, reservoirs, and large streams. They prefer riprap, downed trees, and other structures below dams. White bass are aggressive predators that feed on gizzard and threadfin shad. Individuals migrate into the lower reaches of large flowing streams to spawn. Males usually precede females. Spawnings between one or more males and a single female usually occur at midwater depths in March and April. Once released and fertilized, eggs drift to the bottom and the larvae hatch in two or three days. Growth is fairly rapid.

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Striped Bass

Striped Bass

Scientific Name: Morone saxatilis

Lakes: Lake Guntersville | Wheeler Lake | Pickwick Lake | Lewis Smith Lake | Neely Henry Lake | Logan Martin Lake | Lay Lake | Lake Jordan | Alabama River | Lake Eufaula | Mobile-Tensaw River Delta

In Alabama, striped bass angling is best during cool months and in tailwaters of locks and dams and also in Lewis Smith and Logan Martin Lakes. Favorite baits include live gizzard shad, white or yellow jigs, and spoon lures.

Other Names: striper rockfish, squid hound, greenhead, linesider, roller, and rock; Alabamians also use the term saltwater striped bass.

Characteristics: The striped bass has an elongate, compressed body and a relatively small head with an acute snout and a large, gaping mouth. Maximum body depth goes three or more times into standard length. Two elongate median tooth patches are located on the back of the tongue.

Adult Size: 20 to 24 in (508 to 610 mm)

Distribution: Striped bass populations in Alabama are a mixture of Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast fish. The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division has initiated an aggressive program to reestablish Gulf Coast populations in the Mobile basin, primarily below the Fall Line. Native populations probably still enter the Mobile Delta and lower Alabama and Tombigbee drainages. Landlocked populations of Gulf Coast fish occur in the Chattahoochee River above Jim Woodruff Dam and in Lewis Smith Lake. Most individuals in the Tennessee River are probably Atlantic Coast fish, although Gulf Coast fish were introduced into Wheeler Reservoir from 1992 to 1994.

Habitat and Biology: Schools of native and introduced populations of striped bass inhabit free-flowing rivers and reservoirs and feed primarily on gizzard shad and threadfin shad. Spawning occurs from late March through April in Alabama.

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Hybrid Bass

Hybrid Bass

Scientific Name: Morone chrysops x saxatilis

Lakes: Wheeler Lake | Logan Martin Lake | Lay Lake | Lake Jordan | Alabama River | Lake Eufaula | Mobile-Tensaw River Delta

Winters in Alabama are mild and make it an excellent time to fish for hybrid bass, which are more active this time of year than many other game fish.

Characteristics: The palmetto bass, also called hybrid bass, is not a naturally occurring species. Individuals are produced by artificially spawning a male white bass with a female striped bass. Offspring usually exhibit a wide variety of color patterns that can be confusing when trying to separate them from the young of either parent species. As they grow older, hybrid bass become thicker and deeper-bodied, giving them a distinctive short and stocky appearance.

Adult Size: 15 to 20 in (380 to 508 mm)

Distribution: The hybrid bass in probably the most wide-ranging and abundant member of the striped bass family in Alabama waters and have been found throughout the Mobile basin, in the Tennessee River and its larger tributaries, and in several coastal rivers.

Habitat and Biology: Each spring, biologists with the ADCNR collect white bass males and striped bass females and transport them to a state fish hatchery in Marion where they are spawned. Offspring are subsequently released into rivers, reservoirs, and public lakes. Hybrid bass feed heavily on shad and grow rapidly, often reaching total lengths of 18 inches or more in two years. Individuals migrate great distances in response to changing seasons and flow regimes and they congregate in tailwaters below dams in spring and during high discharge periods. Although they readily strike floating and sinking artificial lures, many fishes are taken with chicken livers and shad as cut bait.

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Yellow Bass

Yellow Bass

Scientific Name: Morone mississippiensis

Lakes: Lake Guntersville | Wheeler Lake | Pickwick Lake | Neely Henry Lake | Logan Martin Lake | Lay Lake | Lake Jordan | Mobile-Tensaw River Delta

Other Names: barfish, brassy bass, stripe, striped bass, streaker, sand bass, rockfish, and striped jack¹

Characteristics: The yellow bass is named for its characteristic yellowish gold body and eye. The tongue lacks the distinctive tooth patch found on other members of this group.

Adult Size: 8 to 11 in (203 to 279 mm)

Distribution: The yellow bass is distributed from the Mobile basin west to the San Jacinto River, Texas. It is native to the lower Tombigbee and Tennessee rivers as well as the Mobile Delta.

Habitat and Biology: Populations of this schooling species occur more frequently in medium to large tributaries and backwater areas of reservoirs and rivers. In the lower Tombigbee River system and the Tennessee River drainage, yellow bass migrate into large streams to spawn in April and May. Spawning usually occurs between one to several males and a single female. Yellow bass feed mainly on insect larvae and small fishes, including minnows, silversides, and small threadfin shad.

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Other Alabama Fish

Other Alabama Fish

Bream (Sunfish)
Bowfin
Catfish(Blue, Bullhead, Channel, Flathead, White & Madtom)
Crappie(Black & White)
Drum(Freshwater Drum, Spotted Seatrout & Red Drum)
Freshwater Eel
Gar(Alligator, Longnose & Spotted)
Lefteye Flounder
Mullet
Needlefish
Paddlefish(Also known as a Spoonbill Catfish)
Perch (Walleye, Sauger & Yellow Perch)
Pikes(Redfin Pickerel & Chain Pickerel)
Rainbow Trout, Sturgeon

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