Wheeler Lake Impounded 1936
Lake level: down (varies) 3-5 feet for winter pool
Spring Fishing the Tennessee River
As Spring comes around on the Tennessee River, it would not be complete without a trip to Wheeler Lake. This is Alabama’s premiere spot for some fantastic smallmouth and largemouth action. Wheeler Lake is Alabama’s second largest impoundment. At 68,300 miles of surface acres and 75 nautical miles from Guntersville dam, to lower Wheeler Lake dam, there are many places to fish during March, April and May. Wheeler Lake is also fed by the incoming Elk River and displays a dynamic milfoil and hydrilla aquatic weed fishery. There are a variety of fishing situations, throughout the Spring season, on this huge, Tennessee River Impoundment.
Wheeler Lake in March
With lake levels still down, as much as 45 feet in March, there is a much smaller Lake to explore. The lower end of Wheeler shows many feeder creeks and deeper water. First and Second Creeks, near the dam, and Spring Creek, right across from the mouth of Elk River, all show excellent prespawn fishing opportunities, for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Either species can be caught during March when fishing precise spots. Always try first and secondary points, outside creek channel bends, ledges, rock bluffs and dropoffs. This includes targeting small pebbled bottoms, or sandy bottomed flats, on the lower end of the Lake. Crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, lipless lures, Texas and Carolinarigged plastics, and jig combos, will all generate strikes in these areas during March.
Smallmouth bass can be enticed with smaller lures, for these can be very finicky bass during March. The Elk River feeds the lower end of Wheeler and has several bridges along its winding path through stump flats, laydown trees, rock bluffs and scattered log jams. Many side pockets off this river, have points leading into them, for smallmouth and largemouth bass to gather in, during prespawn conditions. Scattered logs, stumps and brush in these small pockets, are refuge for some BIG Bass in March. Use caution when navigating this river during low water.
Wheeler Lake in April
When lake levels return to full pool and water temperatures warm into the low 70′s, Wheeler Lake bass will commence into the spring spawn. The milfoil and hydrilla weeds at midlake areas near Decatur launch are not hard to find. Just look for a dozen or more boats, gathered in one area, below Interstate 65 bridge. These bass, like Guntersville Lake bass, move into these newly growing weeds as the waters warm and can be found in the most outoftheway places. Anglers that push pole or troll across vast main lake flats, will find bass in water as shallow as one foot deep, and security far from the maddening crowd.
Lures for these weed oriented bass should, of course, be weedless, for less frustration and hangups. Frogs, rats, floating worms, lizards, weedless spoons, soft jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, are all proven favorites during April on these bedding bass. Right in the beds, spotting bass with polarized sunglasses, you can entice strikes with worms, lizards, gitzits, tube lures and plastic crayfish imitations. Remember to practice catch and release.
Wheeler Lake in May
As bass come off the beds they have many choices for ambush spots when feeding to regain strength. Creeks with newly growing weeds will have many bass in postspawn recuperation. Milfoil and hydrilla will be in full bloom and getting thicker. Also wood cover in the lower Elk River (including its feeder creeks and many small pockets), will now seem to have a bass on each piece of cover. Rock bluffs, have first and secondary ledges for smallmouth to bed on, and will have schools of these hardfighting bass suspending all around them. Points are good, as during the prespawn period, as bass head back to deeper water along these stopoff routes.
During May the bass will be on topwater lures, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jerkbaits, on all of these places and the milfoil will get a lot of attention from trophyseeking anglers. Targeting small holes, lanes, points or other irregularities within these thick weeds, along with utilizing long casts, past your intended target with frogs, rats, floating worms, spoons, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and soft plastics, will always be productive during May, “topwater time” on Wheeler Lake.
Visiting Wheeler lake this spring season? Always call on Reeds Guide Service…first! “Over 30 years exploring massive, Wheeler lake in every season” Several professional guides and boats available, year round, to any lake in Alabama. Keep in mind, a guided fishing trip with Reeds Guide Service makes a great gift for those loved ones that love to fish!
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