Lake Guntersville
Getty: Jeffrey Schreier

Lake Guntersville Fishing: This Largemouth Mecca Has a Lot Going for It

Everyone needs to do some Lake Guntersville fishing once in their life.

Lake Guntersville sits atop Alabama in the northeast corner of the state, paying homage to the Guntersville Dam built on the Tennessee River back in 1935. The lake is roughly 75 miles long and comes in at nearly 70,000 acres, making it the largest lake in the state.

Stretching from the Nickajack Dam all the way to the Guntersville Dam, this manmade impoundment has some of the best fishing in the Cotton State, and receives national recognition, too. The crappie fishing is great, as is the panfishing for bream, sunfish and bluegill. But it's the largemouth bass fishing in this lake that's king.

Keep in mind that Lake Guntersville is also filled with smallmouths, spots and even striped bass for those who don't mind catching any of the other bass species.

Bass Fishing Lake Guntersville

At the famed Lake Guntersville State Park, there's plenty of shoreline access for those who like to fish from the bank.

Launching a canoe or kayak is the next best thing, and the access is very friendly. But no matter you're approach, expect to get into some bass.

Guntersville Lake stretches 75 miles from Nickajack Dam in southeast Tennessee to Guntersville Dam takes up roughly 67,900 acres with 949 miles of shoreline. It has an average depth of about 15 feet, and gets as deep as 60 feet in the river channel.

With the cover provided by all the hydrilla and millfoil, bass fishing should be a cinch, right?

Well, you also have to consider the pressure. Like any good lake, Guntersville demands scouting via following fishing reports, listening to local guides and some good ol' trial and error. Even Alabama has its share of winter weather that calls for differing tactics.

For instance, back in April, the fishing report from Alabama Outdoor News was terrific, as pre-spawn bass were clobbering crankbaits in 58-degree water. 

A report from guide and tournament pro Mark Cart read, "Lake Guntersville has been on fire the last few weeks with numbers of quality fish coming on 1/2- to 3/4-oz. Rat-L-Traps and Echo and MR6 crankbaits. The focus has been on some of the deeper grasslines off of main-lake flats."

But as with many lakes, the May report indicated a much different bite, reading, "The bass on Lake Guntersville have been in their spawning cycle the past couple of weeks. This has made the fishing on the slow side, and it will probably stay this way for at least the next couple of weeks. The upside of this is the fish will be very aggressive in May because of the lack of food during this spawning time."

Sometimes it's spinnerbaits, sometimes it's umbrella rigs, but it is always a good time to try soft plastics, swimbaits or crankbaits. Once you locate shad or other forage fish, you never know what you may hook in to.

If you see fish boiling on the surface while chasing baitfish, throw your favorite topwater offering, but sometimes a vibrating jig with a soft plastic trailer kills them at that moment.

You can never go wrong working the outside edge of a grassline, or flipping into the deepest part of it to locate bass. But other conditions will call for fishing humps or ditches in deeper water where where the bass congregate.

Lake Guntersville is no different. In fact, it has so many of these great locations, the only issue is finding the right one and the right pattern.

Other species to target on Guntersville Lake

Smallmouth bass are not very common here, but some anglers do report an occasional smallie caught near the Guntersville Dam. This is not to say that they aren't present or impossible to catch, just that this area is known more for largemouths and spotted bass.

For a few weeks each spring, shoreline areas get elbow-to-elbow with anglers lining up for the run of striped bass that shows up below the Guntersville Dam. It's not the time for light tackle since these fish can run large, often between 7 and 10 pounds, with the occasional 20-pounders landing in a boat.

Big topwater and swimbaits work well, but it's live shad that take the biggest and the most.

Lake Guntersville has a good population of catfish available to anglers, too. Fishermen will usually target them near the Guntersville Dam, but they can be caught throughout the lake year round with good fishing for both channel catfish and blue catfish.

Those looking to target a real brute should try fishing for the blues as they can as big as 50 pounds.

Also, anglers often overlook panfish, especially crappie, but a strong effort can yield incredible results.

Get fishing on Lake Guntersville

Any Lake Guntersville trip should at least include a search for reputable bass fishing guide rates, whether or not you decide to actually use one.

Depending on the time of year in which you plan to visit, you may also need to be aware of the many fishing tournaments held each year, but your guide will keep you in the loop.

Since Lake Guntersville is easy to get to and easy to fish, it's a great place for your entire family to have a vacation and learn what Alabama hospitality is all about. 

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