Catfish is one of the most popular sport fish in Alabama. This is due to the abundance found in the lakes and rivers, and that it is a staple food source. They are found in many of the states fisheries, but some areas consistently produce large numbers of quality catfish and even a few records.
Wheeler Lake is actually the 60-mile stretch of the Tennessee River between the Wheeler dam and Guntersville dam. It is Alabama's largest lake and also a very popular tourism and fishing destination. Its muddy bottom and murky water is the perfect habitat for large catfish. The state record catfish was caught in this lake, and there have been a few fish that weighed over 100 pounds. There are many boat launches to access this lake, most of which charge a small fee. Due to Wheeler Lake's large size, finding catfish can be difficult for new anglers, so check with the local bait shops to find where the catfish are presently being caught.
Mitchell Dam is located on the Coosa River and is one of the Alabama Power Company's dams. Located in central Alabama the dam is over 1,200 feet in length and holds the water of Lake Mitchell. Excellent catfish fishing is found above and below the dam, and anglers can access areas right up to the dam on the downriver side due to no obstacles such as boulders being present. Silt that falls out of the water after passing over the dam makes for an excellent habitat for catfish. There are boat launches on both sides of the dam as well as shore access for fishing.
The state of Alabama itself owns 23 lakes spread across 20 counties, ranging in size from 13 acres to 184 acres. These lakes are owned for the specific function of providing fishing and water activity opportunities to residents and visitors. Each lake has a variety of species of fish, but catfish are in abundance in most of them because they are stocked each spring. The state built fishing piers or shore areas to fish from at most of these lakes, and most also have handicap access. Almost any rod and reel can be used as gear to fish for catfish in these lakes as the fish average less then three pounds. Anglers can use a variety of bait to target these catfish such as prepackaged catfish bait, chicken livers or dough balls.