Wheeler Lake Impounded 1936
Fall Fishing the Tennessee River
This is Alabama’s second largest reservoir, but only by a scant 800 acres of surface water. Compared to Guntersville Lake, Wheeler’s massive 68,300 surface acres is very similar, but only in size. These are still two totally different lakes on the Tennessee River system in North Alabama, especially during the Fall cool down period.
Wheeler’s lower lake consists of rock bluffs, small cuts and pockets, main-lake flats and some mighty impressive feeder creeks. Near the lakes lower end, near Wheeler dam, you will find Second Creek and First Creek. As you enter these small feeder creeks the cover is evident. Rip-rap around the bridge area in Second Creek always has smallmouth and largemouth bass lingering around these man made rocks during Fall.
Excellant fishing for both of these bass species can be found in First Creek (which is actually the second creek coming from the dam) and along the same side of the lower lake near the dam. A little map study will also reveal two road beds in Second Creek. An underwater highway still in use, as bass migrate along this high spot and forage shallow this Fall.
The Elk River on Wheeler Lake’s lower end, winds far back through the hills of Northern Alabama. This scenic feeder river features scattered log jams, resident-built piers, boat houses, small feeder creeks (like Anderson Creek) and many rocky bluffs and points for bass to relate to. Lake drawdown shows these bass and baitfish really “bunch up” as they are forced to relocate to a much smaller Lake this Fall.
Some big schools of bass, will feed along the river flats, attacking the wandering schools of baitfish. This traditionally takes place from late September on into December. This is when the lake level stabilizes, showing the fishing at its best, before Winter sets in.
Across from The Elk River is Spring Creek. Here you will find grass, but only in September. As October and November bring lake drawdowns of 4-5 feet, this greenery will be left high and dry. There is very little stain to the water in Spring Creek, so shad look-a-like lures usually work fine, but always include a few crayfish colors, for bass dine heavily on both.
Up the lake you will find several feeder creeks to explore this Fall. Mallard Creek and Fox Creek are two feeders that hold bass year round. Fall shows both of these creeks excellent for targeting smallmouth bass and largemouth bass. Look for bass to relate to the weed edges as lake levels drop. Hydrilla weeds grow a little deeper than the thick matted millfoil weeds and will appear as dark spots just beneath the waters surface, usually visible in water deeper than 3 feet.
From the I-65 Interstate bridge crossing at mid lake, to the lakes headwaters (below Guntersville Lake dam), you will find over 40 miles of a river-type area as the lake narrows down heading upstream. Drop-offs, ledges and creek mouths are good places to start, as you look for these nomadic bass, during Fall on Wheeler Lake.
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