Summer on Alabama’s Tennessee River Impoundments By Reed Montgomery

SUMMER ON ALABAMA’S TENNESSEE RIVER SYSTEM, MAN MADE IMPOUNDMENT’S – Guntersville Lake, Wheeler Lake , Wilson Lake and Pickwick Lake.

Written By Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service


Guntersville Lake

Alabama’s largest, man made impoundment Guntersville Lake, situated near the town of Guntersville in north Alabama, fishes BIG during the hot days of Summer! Loaded with milfoil and hydrilla aquatic weeds, Guntersville Lake is a Big Bass Factory!

As with most Alabama lakes during the summer season, Guntersville lake is a very recreational lake, especially on weekends or very crowded Holidays, like the Fourth of July! The mid-to-lower lake region can get very crowded! So can avid bass anglers have any hope of escaping these crowds?


Escaping the hordes of water skiers, seadoos (or jet skis), pontoon parties or other anglers, means either getting on the water early, fishing late in the day, or like many anglers resorting to night fishing.

During any of these time frames you are less likely to experience very crowded conditions like during the midday period. Or, there is another way to avoid the summertime crowds. Head far up the lake to Guntersville lake’s headwaters!


As with most Alabama reservoirs, the upper portion of the lake — from North Sauty Creek all the way to the waters situated below Nick a jack Lake dam in Guntersville lake’s headwaters — is more of a river- type terrain. This is where the lake narrows down, which in turn increases the current, during the summer months. Cooler water, shade and current.


Which always attracts big, largemouth bass that are constantly feeding and hanging around the upper lake’s wood cover, rock cover and a variety of aquatic weeds this huge impoundment has to offer, as the mercury soars this summer season.

All to be discovered by the astute summertime angler, while fishing in somewhat solitude, along Guntersville lake’s shady and deep, old original river channel banks, along deep river ledges and drop-offs, from shallow flats to deeper main lake water!


Like said, ” Guntersville Lake is Where Big, Summertime Bass Do Exist!”


So, all throughout July, August and September you can choose to fish, where other anglers usually don’t. Or there are many miles of water to explore on your own. (For more on Fishing Alabama’s Guntersville Lake, both during the day and at night this summer season, see Guntersville Lake Summertime Fishing Tips and Fishing Articles on

Wheeler Lake

Wheeler Lake, is Alabama’s second largest, man made reservoir. It is situated near the northern Alabama towns of Athens and Decatur and has a variety of fishing situations! Including big largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass and striped bass!


Similar in its shape, length, size and configuration to upper, man made Tennessee River reservoir Guntersville Lake,  Wheeler lake has many alike features and more of a river-type terrain — from the lake’s headwaters starting at Guntersville lake dam, for over 50 miles of a narrow, winding original Tennessee River Channel, heading south.


Wheeler Lake begins to widen at its midday point, where the Interstate 65 / Highway 31 crossing is located, at the now famed “Decatur Flats”, all the way to the lower lake’s Elk River. Including several incoming feeder creeks, such as First Creek and Second Creek near the lower lake dam and Spring Creek. Summertime bass anglers have a variety of aquatic weeds, wood cover and rocky banks to explore this summer season.

To avoid the summertime crowds, get on the water early, or fish during late evening hours, or you may choose to fish at night. But you must know the water, if fishing after the sun goes down! Never leave anything to chance! Out-of-the way incoming tributaries need some exploring beforehand.


Places like the Elk River may be easily navigable during the daytime hours. But without knowledge of the River (or a good spot light), its hard to see a big floating tree or a half way submerged log…often when its too late, after dark.

Wheeler Lake has smallmouth bass that hang around deep rock bluffs, long tapering main lake points and they can be found up in the Elk River and nearby feeder creeks. The lower-to-mid portion of Wheeler lake, features rock bluffs and creek mouths these brown bass inhibit as well, in the summer season.

Largemouth bass are found lake wide, often hanging around any available aquatic weeds, various types of wood cover and rock cover. Spotted bass and some big, striped bass are more available in open water situations and they are often seen as schooling bass.


These are bass, that may be seen “schooling” or “busting baitfish on top” during the summer months feeding on hapless baitfish in open water places, like along flats and around rip-rap lined causeways and bridges. Cooler, inflowing creeks may attract schools of ”spots” and some nice sized smallmouth bass as well!


Wilson Lake

Wilson Lake, is a rather small Tennessee River lake, only 18 miles in length, but its avid bass anglers can boast of Wilson Lake being a holder of many freshwater fish records. Like the previous, ” world record smallmouth bass” one huge brown bass, exceeding ten pounds!


Finding water — away from the maddening summertime crowd — on a lake less than 18 miles in length (with only four major feeder creeks), calls for the same evasive  tactics as when fishing during the daylight hours on other very crowded Alabama lakes…like for instance, getting there early to beat the crowds!

Fishing below massive, Wheeler Lake dam in Wilson Lake’s headwaters and launching your boat at the nearby Wilson Lake public boat launch, calls for arriving early.

For there is only one lone, little pier, that every angler has to/or should, share with others.


Launch your boat, tie up, load up and then head out, letting the next angler use it. Simple. right? Don’t tie up there for 30 minutes, preventing others from using the only pier’s short term use. Which is provided for free! By the way, as of the Fourth of July, it begins to get light at 4:30 a.m. Central time! So make plans to arrive early!


Fishing late in the day, you will see the hordes of daytime water skiers, jet skis, pontoon parties, ski boats, etc. all usually planning on getting off the water and being gone, about an hour or so, before sun goes down.


Leaving the lake, all to the late evening bass angler and a very peaceful setting sun. Calm water. Late evening big bass on the prowl, and you, the angler that pursues them all alone.


Or you can choose to fish for smallmouth bass and largemouth bass under the stars at night. Well lighted areas are everywhere! Bass and baitfish gather in these places and they are attracted to the lights and the bugs falling in the water. Places to find big bass on the prowl at night!


Around well lighted, rip-rap rock lined causeways. Both around the upper Wheeler lake dam and the lower lake Wilson Lake dam, all have miles of rock-lined banks, all well lighted at night. Piers, boat houses and around marinas are all well lighted as well. When the sun goes down big bass often gather in numbers to feed on the bug-eating bream, crappie and baitfish hanging around these well lighted areas. So should you!


Pickwick Lake

Pickwick Lake, like upper reservoir Wilson Lake, is world renowned for its “world record sized” smallmouth bass. It is a lake over 50 miles in length that harbors “ten pound plus” largemouth bass as well. During the summer season, bass anglers will find both big, largemouth bass and big, smallmouth bass mingling together in both shallow and deep water situations!

Those little brown bass, so many Alabama anglers know so well (and those out-of-state anglers that often travel hundreds of miles to Alabama to fish for; smallies) what are better known as “smallmouth bass.” These fighting adversaries can be fooled into biting a number of fake offerings all during the hot summer months of July, August and September. Both during the day and at night! Targeting bass in both shallow and deep water applications!


But little known to some anglers is the huge, largemouth bass population, one that is to be discovered all throughout Pickwick Lake with only a little searching this summer season! Both while bass fishing along the main lake and up in the many feeder creeks that supply fresh water to the lake.


You can be fishing a topwater lure in the lake’s headwaters below Wilson Lake dam on any summer morning at dawn and expect to fool a five pound smallmouth bass or a five pound largemouth bass…or both! Even at the night, expect the same results! Often targeting these nocturnal bass in places featuring, less than five feet of water!


On the other extreme, some anglers are fishing deep water with big, heavy one ounce  football head jig combos, oversized jigging spoons and even big, Texas-rigged ten to twelve inch worms, fished along deep 20-40 foot deep, old river channel drop-offs.

Some summertime Pickwick Lake bass anglers are fooling 4-5 pound smallmouth bass and even bigger largemouth bass, with many of these big bass bunched up in the same locations. Taking place all summer long!


So until it cools in the Fall (and even then!) these, “Pickwick Lake Bass of Summer” can be found lake wide, in any depth! Caught on a variety of lures, whether anglers are fishing for bass during the day or at night, this summer season!


Or, you can always call on Reeds Guide Service…first! To see how its done.

“ Fishing/Guiding on any Tennessee River Impoundment, or any River System or lake found throughout all of Alabama for Over 40 Years.”


“Year Round Guide Service, Fishing For Largemouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Smallmouth Bass and Striped Bass. Lures only, no live bait.”


Thanks, Be Safe and Practice Courtesy to other boaters and anglers during this summer season and Good Fishin’!

(See my website for more seasonal fishing tips, Alabama lake reports and bass fishing articles on these lakes and other Alabama lakes). See us and like us on face book too!

Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service

Alabaster, Alabama (205) 663-1504


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Reed Montgomery

About Reed Montgomery

Alabama's Oldest, Professional "Bass Fishing Only" Guide Service For Over 40 Years Fishing all of Alabama's Lakes for all Species of Bass and Striped Bass.

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