Alabama Bass Trail: Lake Guntersville

1. Lake Guntersville

Alabama’s largest and perhaps most famous bass lake, 69,100-acre Guntersville stretches 75 miles along the course of the Tennessee River between Nickajack and Guntersville dams in the northeastern part of the state. The foothills of the Appalachian Mountains form a dramatic backdrop to great angling, and the lake is thoroughly developed with every angling accommodation imaginable.

Guntersville offers everything from vast weedy bays to creek channels, submerged bars and points, and deep channel edge fishing — and there are bass everywhere. Whatever your favorite tactic, you can practice it with success here at some time of year. Probably the most famous fishing, though, is in late fall when the tactic known as “froggin” comes into its own. Anglers crank weedless plastic frogs across the vast mats of hydrilla, milfoil and duckweed to bring jumbo bass crashing up through the cover. It’s heart-stopping action when it’s “on,” as it usually is from late October to mid-November.

The lake is famed for producing quality bass, including plenty of 8- to 10-pounders, particularly during the spring spawn, which gets underway as early as February some years and continues well into April. A 15-inch minimum length limit for black bass was put in place nearly two decades ago to restrict harvest of small, fast-growing bass. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) sampling indicates the restriction has helped produce heavier, healthier bass, as well as more bass larger than the minimum size. 

Recently renovated Guntersville State Park Lodge, situated on a mountaintop overlooking the lake, is one of Alabama’s most beautiful accommodations, with glass-walled suites offering a 50-mile view, great buffets and a scenic golf course along with superior boating facilities and rental cabins. The lodge is a great spot for winter bald eagle-watching, and the grounds are loaded with semi-tame whitetail deer.

There are numerous marinas, hotels and restaurants around the lake in the towns of Guntersville and Scottsboro, as well as Goose Pond Colony Resort off state Route 79 between the two towns. Nearby state attractions include Buck’s Pocket State Park — Alabama’s mini Grand Canyon — and Cathedral Caverns State Park near Grant.

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