With 21,200 acres spread over 500 miles of winding shoreline, Lewis Smith is unusual among Alabama impoundments — a deep, clear, blue-green jewel of a lake in a mountain-forest setting. The lake is made up of a number of large impounded creek systems, as well as the primary tributary, the Sipsey River. All flow out of steep, rocky forest land, resulting in a clear, vertical lake that stays cool in the depths all summer, sometimes holding bass deeper than 50 feet on the main-lake points.
Lewis Smith can be challenging to anglers used to the murky shallows of other lakes, but finesse fishermen will feel right at home; light lines, small lures and lots of depthfinder-watching are the key to success here most of the year. Lewis Smith is a noted spotted bass lake and holds the state record for the species with a giant 8-pound, 15-ounce fish caught in 1978. The lake is alive with undersize spots, which come to the surface by the hundreds in late fall to attack shad schools. State fishery biologists say there are so many of the little bass that they slow growth of larger fish. The biologists encourage anglers to keep daily limits of spots under 13 inches to help rebalance the population. Fish from 13 to 15 inches must be released, but fish over 15 inches may be kept. The bag limit is 10 daily.
Lewis Smith is also noted for striped bass fishing, producing lots of fish in excess of 20 pounds each year, along with plenty in the 30s and even a few 40-pounders. Most are caught drifting shad deep, but it’s also possible to locate the fish on a depthfinder and catch them by vertical jigging with heavy swimbaits and spoons. In spring and fall, they’re also caught by fishing large topwater lures around bars and main-lake points.
There are marinas at most bridge crossings and at the dam northeast of Jasper and a number of ramps and campgrounds at state parks around the lake. Accommodations are available in Jasper for the lower lake, at Cullman for the eastern arms and at Double Springs for the northern arms. See walkerchamber.us and cullmanchamber.org for more information.
For more information on the Alabama Bass Trail, visit AlabamaBassTrail.org.