Wheeler Lake Impounded 1936
Lake level: down (varies) 3-5 feet for winter pool
Summer Fishing the Tennessee River
As summer progresses there are many ways to fool the largemouth bass and smallmouth bass that make up this huge, man made impoundment on the Tennessee River System. Many anglers resort to night fishing on Wheeler Lake during the summer period.
To beat the heat (that can reach 100 degrees by midday), anglers may launch the boat late in the evening and fish all night, until it begins to warm at mid morning the next day. Others just fish until the midnight hours and head for home early to get a few hours sleep. Either way, night fishing can be very relaxing and often very rewarding, in terms of trophy bass.
Some anglers are forced to fish during the daylight hours and they must adjust to the heat just like the bass they are after. Like marathon night fishing, some anglers will stay out all day and brave the midday heat in search of their ever elusive bass quarry, despite the grueling conditions. Old timers or seasoned anglers usually time their trips accordingly and fish only during the early morning hours or during late evening hours.
Despite your choice (of fishing during the daylight hours or under the stars at night), the summer months of June, July and August have got to include plans for both types of fishing. So heres some tips for anglers that do a little of both day and night fishing on Alabama’s second largest impoundment, Wheeler Lake.
Largemouth bass and smallmouth bass do feed during the daylight hours throughout Wheeler Lake. They also feed at night. From the lakes headwaters (situated just below Guntersville Lake dam), to over 50 miles south at midlake where the Interstate 65 crosses the lake are good places to fish all summer. The lakes lower end fed by the incoming Elk River and major incoming feeder creeks, displays all types of shallow to deep water habitats these bass occupy all summer long.
Wheeler Lakes Headwaters – The upper end of Wheeler Lake is more of a river type situation and the incoming feeder creeks and the lakes headwaters (below Guntersville Lake dam) supply fresh, cool incoming water, which creates current and oxygen. Constant barge traffic in these lake headwaters also keeps the water moving and the dam opening and closing all day creates lots of current. Creek mouths, and the mouths of small cuts and pockets, are excellent places to fish this summer with crankbaits, spinnerbaits and lures fished on bottom.
Wheeler Lakes mid-Lake – Two bridges cross the lake at its mid section and just below here is the millfoil and hydrilla infested, Decatur Flats. Incoming feeder creeks and loads of piers, boat houses and a few marinas that show shade seeking bass plenty of places to occupy this summer.
Wheeler Lakes Lower End – The incoming Elk River winds for miles throughout the scenic hillsides. It includes many bridges, loads of rock bluffs and a twisting, winding river channel, that creates log jams on every flat and bend.
Piers, boat houses and a few incoming creeks show the Elk River an all day excursion when exploring this major source of incoming water. There is always plenty of evident prey and loads of nutrients in the Elk River. Use caution when navigating during both day and night. There are always a few logs floating down the Elk River in the summer.
There is also Spring Creek across from the Elk River and First Creek and Second Creek near the dam on the Lakes lower end. Bridges lined with man made rip-rap rocks and major creek and river channel flats, bluffs and drop-offs hold schools of bass all summer long in this lower lake region.
There is also plenty for these bass to dine on all summer long throughout Wheeler Lake and many of these prey are found in these lake headwaters, mid lake and the lakes lower end. With many choices for the bass to consider.
Incoming meals like threadfin shad and gizzard shad baitfish, all sizes of minnows, a variety of bream, sunfish, small rock bass and other small baitfish are consumed daily. Lures that mimic baitfish like crankbaits, rattletraps and both floating and suspending jerkbaits are good choices this summer.
This lengthy list of summertime favorites these bass consume includes both small and large crayfish, all types of insects like bees, wasps or dragon flies and even frogs, small mice, small snakes, worms, eels and lizards. All of which are found in and around these places lake wide this summer.
There are spots that Wheeler Lake bass inhibit all summer. Places like around wood cover such as stumps, brush piles, laying trees and man made wood cover. This includes rocks and boulders and in and around all types of aquatic weeds. These are all dependable places to return to as conditions stabilize each week and more and more schools of both predator and prey move in.
Everything these bass need for survival (when the temperature soars and they are seeking these comforts each day or night) while feeding on what ever comes their way, gets down to what lures you can use to fool them into striking your offerings this summer.
Some anglers fish shallow, some fish deep. Versatile anglers do both during the summer months. Shallow bass are feeding bass and during the daylight hours or late evenings on Wheeler Lake this tactic always calls for including a few topwaters in your list of tempting offerings.
This can mean the use of weedless lures fishing right up in the many types of aquatic weeds Wheeler Lake has to offer. Around millfoil, hydrilla and Lilly pads try buzzbaits, frogs and rats, weedless spoons, spinnerbaits and both floating worms and soft jerkbaits. These lures are among many anglers favorites.
These many types of weedless lures are necessary (for less frustration), when targeting thick weeds and fishing with weedless lures helps avoid hanging or losing costly lures. The use of weedless lures always increases your chance for more catching and fooling these bass into striking your lures as well.
At early morning light topwaters fished along flats, rip-rap rocks and around other wood, weed and rock cover, can include a lengthy list of the not so weedless type topwaters, usually featuring one or more treble hooks. Walking type topwaters like zara spooks, Sammie’s and other cigar shaped topwaters, are deadly on both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass at dawn, late evenings or during cloudy, rainy periods. Also day or night try pop-r’s, prop baits and an old favorite, the jitterbug.
Fishing at night on Wheeler Lake can include using the same lures you use during the day. But most nighttime anglers stick with topwaters, spinnerbaits and lures fished on bottom like plastics rigged on a jig head, Texas rigged or Carolina rigged plastic lures, tube baits, creature baits and jig combos.
Whether you fish during the day or night, Wheeler Lake has both types of fishing to offer this summer.
Be safe and always include your life jacket and outboard motor kill switch when boating this summer. Fishing Licenses, boat registration papers, up to date boat stickers and items such as a throw cushion, a fully charged fire extinguisher and life jackets for each boat occupant will be checked by the water patrol.
Visiting Wheeler lake this summer? Or any Alabama lake? Always call on Reeds Guide Service…first! “Over 40 years fishing the Tennessee River lakes and other Alabama lakes”. Remember, a guided fishing trip with Reeds Guide Service (205) 663-1504 makes a great surprise gift for Birthday’s, Father’s Day and Christmas (certificates available), for those loved ones that love to fish. Several guides and boats available for multiple parties and corporate guided trips to any lake in Alabama, year round. See my website www.fishingalabama.com for more info.
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