Gone Fishing: You don’t have to drive far to find a good fishing hole

Kyle Whitmark, 7, of Madison, enjoys fishing at Hospitality Park, located on US Hwy. 31, near Decatur’s Captain William J. Hudson "Steamboat Bill" Memorial Bridge.

You don’t have to take an expensive trip to the coast or even own a boat to experience top notch fishing.  Madison is fortunate to be nestled in the Tennessee Valley, which contains many waterways, all courtesy of the 652-mile-long Tennessee River.

In 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) converted the river into a series of lakes that are held back by nine major dams.  The dams not only controlled flooding, but they also increased river traffic, which led to the establishment of a water-recreation industry.

Although the dams can offer good fishing spots, anglers need to keep in mind, if fishing in the vicinity of a dam, areas below the dams can be very dangerous.
Not just local folk think the fishing is good in the North Alabama area.

The Wilson Reservoir, a 65,000 acre area, is known as the Smallmouth Capital of the World for the trophy smallmouth bass caught there. Lewis Smith Lake is the holder of five previous World Record spotted bass catches.

Fishing in local and state parks can be a pleasant option for families, as many not only offer piers and bank fishing, but they may also have picnic areas, playgrounds, restrooms, convenience stores and other amenities available.

Many parks throughout Colbert and Lauderdale County offer fishing areas for families.  Lock Six Park in Killen, the Wilson Dam overlook, McFarland Park in Florence and Riverfront Park in Sheffield have piers and bank fishing.

Sharon Johnston Park, located at New Market in Madison County, features a 12-acre lake stocked with catfish, bass, brim, and crappie.  Madison County Lake, located in Gurley, 11 miles east of Huntsville, is 105-acre lake.

Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Guntersville State Park in Guntersville and Buck’s Pocket State Park in Grove Oak are all short drives from Madison.

As you cross the Captain William J. Hudson “Steamboat Bill” Memorial Bridge to Decatur, you might notice many cars pulled over on the side of the road and fishing from the roadside.

Hospitality Park and Riverwalk Marina, both located near the bridge, and Ingall’s Habor are just some of the fishing options offered in the Decatur area.
Sportsman Lake Park and Smith Lake Park are available in the Cullman area.

In order to insure the best fishing experience possible, plan ahead.  Research each individual location for hours of availability, maps of fishing locations, venue specific fees (may be required in addition to fishing license), rules and guidelines, available amenities, etc.

Remember to use sunscreen, and be sure to purchase the state law required fishing license if applicable, as state game wardens patrol lake banks frequently.

Here are some helpful links:

By Molly King