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The Alabama Reservoir Management Program was established in 1986 with the objective of collecting baseline information on the fish populations of all public reservoirs larger than 500 acres. This information is used to develop management plans for each reservoir, intended to improve fish population structure and fishing quality. Sampling continues periodically on each reservoir and the management plan is updated.

Child with PFDFish sampling is conducted with various gears, depending on the species of interest. Largemouth bass, spotted bass, bluegill and the major forage species, gizzard shad and threadfin shad, are collected in the spring by specially designed electrofishing boats. Gill nets are used in the fall to evaluate walleye, sauger, striped bass, hybrid striped bass and white bass. Specially designed trap nets are used in fall to sample crappie. These nets collect crappie of all sizes, including those that are only three or four inches long. This allows for accurate predictions of fishing success several years in advance. Another useful management tool is interview surveys with anglers to assess fishing effort, catch and angler opinions.

Alabama’s Reservoir Management Program monitors 42 reservoirs totaling more than a half million acres. The information collected is vital for biologists to make wise management decisions. Whether a fish population needs a minimum length limit, a slot limit, change in creel limit, or is found to be in good condition, the Reservoir Management Program is the primary source of reliable data.

In addition to baseline reservoir monitoring, research projects are often needed to address specific fisheries problems. Some research projects are undertaken by Fisheries Section biologists but other research projects are contracted to experts from various state and educational institutions.2007 State Fish Art Contest Winner; Sabrina Steuber - Artist

Generally, research projects evaluate various aspects of standardized sampling techniques, food habits analysis, population age structure and growth rate, fish movement, fish production and stocking, genetic diversity and engineering, fish population dynamics, angler exploitation, tournament related fish mortality, gear evaluation, instream flow dynamics and many other fish related topics. Relationships between environmental conditions, fish species interaction, water quality, macroinvertebrates and man reveal the complexity of understanding the nature of our aquatic resources.

Some recent research has produced interesting findings. For example, the best crappie spawns are often associated with higher than average rainfall in winter followed by lower than average rainfall in summer. Another recent study analyzed the food habits of striped bass. More than 2,400 prey items were retrieved from striped bass stomachs. Almost 2,300 of the prey items were shad, the primary forage of striped bass. Only twelve prey items, six bluegill and six crappie, were game fish. This is important information because many anglers assume that striped bass often prey on game fish.

Many other species, including smallmouth bass, paddlefish, walleye and alligator gar have been the focus of recent research efforts. This work is a necessary part of Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries' efforts to preserve, protect and enhance Alabama’s aquatic resources. 

Fish kills sometimes occur on public waters and can be the result of pollution incidents or various natural causes. Any time you observe more than a few dead fish in public waters notify the appropriate District Fisheries Office immediately.

Following is a list of public reservoirs (large lakes) in Alabama:

Aliceville Aliceville Tombigbee 8,300 136.0
Bankhead Hueytown Warrior 9,200 255.1
Bartlett's Ferry (Harding) Fairfax Chattahoochee 5,860 521.0
Bear Creek (Big Bear) Red Bay Tennessee 670 576.0
Big Creek Mobile Escatawpa 3,600 110.0
Cedar Creek Russellville Tennessee 4,200 580.0
Claiborne Monroeville Alabama 5,930 35.0
Coffeeville Jackson Tombigbee 8,500 32.5
Columbia Columbia Chattahoochee 1,540 102.0
Crooked Creek {See R.L Harris} Tallapoosa    
Dannelly Selma Alabama 17,200 80.0
Demopolis Demopolis Tombigbee 10,000 73.0
Eufaula Eufaula Chattahoochee 45,180 190.0
Gainesville Gainesville Tombigbee 6,400 109.0
Gantt Andalusia Conecuh 2,747 197.8
Goat Rock Phenix City Chattahoochee 1, 000  
Guntersville Guntersville Tennessee 69,100 595.0
Harris {See R.L Harris} Tallapoosa    
Holt Tuscaloosa Warrior 3,296 87.0
Inland Oneonta Warrior {Blackburn} 1,536 770.0
Jones Bluff Montgomery Alabama 12,510 125.0
Jordan Wetumpka Coosa 6,800 252.0
Lay Columbiana Coosa 12,000 396.0
Lewis Smith Jasper & Cullman Warrior {Sipsey} 21,200 510.0
Little Bear Creek Red Bay Tennessee 1,560 620.0
Logan Martin Talladega Coosa 15,260 465.0
Martin Alexander City Tallapoosa 39,000 490.0
Millers Ferry {See Dannelly} Alabama    
Mitchell Clanton Coosa 5,850 312.0
Montgomery {See Jones Bluff} Alabama    
Neely Henry Gadsden Coosa 11,235 508.0
Oliver on the Chattahoochee Phenix City Chattahoochee 3,000  
Oliver on the Warrior Tuscaloosa Warrior 2,220 149.0
Opelika City (Saugahatchee) Opelika Tallapoosa 565  
Pickwick Florence Tennessee 41,515 418.0
Point A Andalusia Conecuh 700 169.7
Purdy Birmingham Cahaba 1,050 551.0
R L Harris Wedowee Tallapoosa 10,661 793.0
R E 'Bob' Woodruff {See Jones Bluff} Alabama    
Shelby Gulf Shores Gulf of Mexico 862 .0
Smith Cullman & Jasper Warrior {Sipsey} 21,200 510.0
Tholocco Ozark Choctawhatchee 604  
Thurlow Tallassee Tallapoosa 585 288.8
Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Warrior {North Branch} 5,885 223.2
Upper Bear Creek Haleyville Tennessee 1,850 797.0
Warrior Eutaw Warrior 9, 100 96.0
Wedowee {See R L Harris} Tallapoosa    
Weiss Centre Coosa 30,200 564.0
West Point Lanett Chattahoochee 25,864 635.0
Wheeler Decatur Tennessee 68,300 556.3
Wilson Florence Tennessee 15,930 507.5
Yates Tallassee Tallapoosa 1,980 344.0

For more information on reservoir management and research efforts in your area, contact the appropriate District Fisheries Office.

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By Mark Dubowski

Official Web site of Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
©2008 Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources   |   64 N. Union Street, Suite 468 - Montgomery, Alabama 36130