Reed Montgomery


By Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service


Impounded 1984

Lake Level: Currently down for winter pool (call 1-800-lakes-11 for lake levels)

Normal Full Pool Level is 793.0


Anglers from all over Alabama travel the world in search of big, largemouth bass. Really all they have to do is stay right here in Alabama and fish Lake Harris this winter season. Truly big largemouth bass, (many ranging from 10-16 pounds have been taken in years past), they do exist on this lake...a lake many Alabama anglers have never even fished. Records show, most of these true, trophy sized largemouth bass have been fooled (by the fortunate angler lucky enough to land one) during the months of December - March. So if you plan on ever fishing this lake at all...right now is the time.

Lake Harris was impounded in 1983. It is Alabama's youngest man made impoundment. It has now been near 24 years since the waters of the Tallapoosa River and the Little Tallapoosa River Systems were dammed up to create Lake Harris, often called Wedowee Lake, due to a nearby town of Wedowee, Alabama. Not only were these two major rivers flooded but many small ponds and lakes were inundated as well. So the lake really had lots of big bass, before it was actually impounded. After about 5 years after impoundment in 1983 it was a well known fact that Lake Harris had some really big bass, with many on record recorded back then weighing over 10 pounds.

Soon like every new lake, the lake had a down fall and not as many big bass were caught. Since then it seems like about every 4-5 years there is another "big bass explosion" and now in the winter of 2007 trophy bass anglers now have something to look forward to again. As a matter of fact there were many big largemouth bass, some weighing from 12-16 pounds (or more) taken about five years ago. There has even been one dead bass found floating in the lake that weighed a little over 17 pounds. That monster largemouth bass could have been a new Alabama State record bass, if it had been caught.

So by now, you know when to fish Lake Harris. Its where, what lure and what technique that most anglers want to know next! After fishing this lake since its impoundment, I've got a few good answers. I've seen many largemouth bass ranging from 9 pounds -- to some almost 12 pounds taken out of Lake Harris in years past. My personal best is one weighing almost 10 pounds, many clients of Reeds Guide Service have taken bass weighing from 9-11 1/2 pounds and I'm still searching for that state record largemouth bass on Lake Harris each winter season. Its there and somebody has to catch it, but being there as many times as you can this winter season, is the only way an angler will ever even have a chance at hooking into one of these monster bass of a lifetime. Then getting it in the boat is another factor. Many anglers can tell the tale of the one that got away if they frequent this lake. Mostly this is due to angler error. Anglers that were not prepared. So along with this fishing info there is preparation help as well. Your gonna need it.

Preparation is the key to success

First of all, for most of those anglers that have never hooked into a bass exceeding 10 pounds you are in for the thrill of a lifetime. That is if you do land the bass. There are many variables that will determine your angling success. Pictures of a released bass, a replica or mounted bass and bragging rights all come afterwards for those rare breed of anglers that do succeed. You have got to get the bass in the boat before any of this takes place! Believe me they don't come easy. You have first got to get the bass to bite, using the right lure, the right line, the right equipment, the right presentation and defiantly be fishing in the right place at the right depth on the right day! But before you even get to the lake you have got to be prepared first!

This preparation starts with your tackle, rods, reels and fishing line. Any neglect will show up at a very inopportune time, like when the big one gets away! Don't become another statistic, one of those anglers that only have a tale of the big one that got away. After all your preparation, you will see with your built up confidence and equipment preparation you are one step ahead of many other anglers that just leave things to chance.


Tackle preparation means thoroughly going over each and every lure you intend to use. This means first taking off all original hooks and replacing them with good sharp quality hooks. While you have those hooks off, this is a good time for cleaning or even repainting your lures. Usually replacing original treble hooks, using new worm hooks and new jig hooks is all you have to do. Or you can sharpen them, but often they are still not like very sharp, brand new, hand honed hooks you can buy. Choosing the correct size hook is important to.

Many anglers lose big bass due to fishing with lures that come with to small of a hook. Sure these hooks that come on most lures will handle most bass. But hook into a huge, tackle testing bass and you will soon see the weakness of many hooks. They just can't handle the job at hand. So replacing hooks on your lures with good quality hooks (usually a size bigger than normal), includes means using hooks that are made for handling very big bass. This is very, very important. Thin wired hooks can open up easily, or they can break, or they become dull very fast from fishing around thick wood and rock cover. There are no weeds on Lake Harris. So being prepared for fishing rocks and wood cover means paying attention to using very sharp hooks!

Changing hooks means going to a bigger hook in most situations for tackling big bass. Say for instance you are fishing crankbaits, most of which come equipped with # 3 treble hooks. Change them to # 4 treble hooks. Or if you are fishing with a Zara Super Spook topwater lure. These big bass lures come with three # 4 Excalibur rotating thin wired hooks. OK for most bass, not for Lake Harris monsters. Replace the front and back hooks with # 2 size treble hooks and replace the original middle hook with another stronger # 4 hook. I use Gamakatsu (EWG) Extra Wide Gap treble hooks. They have a tempered bend in the hook and they will not open up. Owner Hooks and VMC brand hooks are also quality hook brands I would recommend. Worm hooks and jig hooks are important to. The bigger the worm, lizard, crayfish, creature bait or tube bait you fish, the bigger the hook should be.


Most anglers fish with the same rods wherever they go. That's OK for most lakes you fish and most bass you target. But coming to Lake Harris means leaving the wimpy stuff at home. It takes a good quality rod to handle a full grown bass. A rod with good backbone, good rod bending qualities and a rod with a good tip not a weak little skinny tip that can break easily like most rods come equipped with. Actually most that rods that have been broken and had the tip replaced will prove to be a much more stronger rod. Or using rods designed to aid an angler in tackling huge bass like a flipping rod.


Anglers that neglect to prepare their reels are asking for trouble. Oiling each reel is important for success. Tighten up all screws, handles and where the reel seats on the rod. Lining up each reel with new line is very important. Never use old line on an old wore out reel when fishing Lake Harris. Also use wide spooled reels, they hold lots of heavy test line, line that has a wide diameter taking up a lot of space on most narrow spooled reels. I use ABU Garcia 5500 and 6500 reels exclusively. Always check you reels drag system before ever making that first cast of the day. During winter most reels drag systems are frozen early in the day.


This is matter of choice for most anglers. Name brands are many so an anglers choice of line can vary. What important is the line size, type and strength. I prefer monofilament line in the 15-20 pound test category. I use Trilene Big Game green Line simply because it has never let me down. Some anglers prefer braided line, which really increases your feel and sensitivity. Its really all a matter of choice but as said before, leave the wimpy tackle with light line at home. Also retying after dragging your line through heavy cover is important. A factor many anglers neglect, until its to late with lost bass from frayed line or a weak knot.

Lures and Techniques

There many lures to choose from. Lake Harris monster bass have been taken on lures fished on top, lures fished in the middle water column and many lure types fished on bottom. So lure choice, like most anglers make on their own, can vary. What important is fishing with lures that work on certain days with certain conditions. If its cloudy or raining following a week long warming trend, bass could be active and shallow and chase down a crankbait, rattling lipless lure, jerkbait or spinnerbait. They may even rise to a well paced topwater lure. If you are fishing during or following a cold front the bite may be slow. This means slowing down with your lure presentation. Which often means fishing with lures on or near bottom. This can mean fishing normal size lures such as a plain old 6 inch worm. Or you can go to the extreme and fish with worms in lengths of 8-12 inches. The same goes for lizards 8-10 inches. Crayfish imitations of 5-8 inches. Or big creature baits or jig combos with big gaudy trailers. Think big for big bass have big appetites.

So fishing Lake Harris this winter calls for preparation and keeping in mind you are fishing for one big bass bite. Getting the bass in the boat means having a good net and good netman as well. Make sure you are prepared for the bass of a lifetime. Not prepared to repeat the old tale of the one that got away. Everybody has heard that one! Or call on Reeds Guide Service to see how and where its done. Be safe this winter and always wear your life jacket, outboard motor kill switch and bring spare clothes and fire starting materials as well, for emergencies.

Good Fishin' and on Lake Harris Good Luck! Your gonna need it!

This report provided by:

Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service

Producer / Host "Fishing Alabama" With Reed Montgomery Radio Show

"6 Years on the Radio / Jan 2005"

Birmingham, Alabama

Call Reeds Guide Service...First! (205) 787-5133

"Over 40 Years Fishing Alabama for Bass and Stripers"



Fish Species: Bass
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Reed Montgomery

About The Author: Captain Reed Montgomery

Company: Reeds Guide Service

Area Reporting: All Alabama Lakes

Bio: Captain Reed Montgomery a Birmingham, Alabama native Guides on all of Alabama\'s Lakes for all species of Bass. Alabamas Oldest Professional Freshwater Guide Service For Over 40 Years. Website

(205) 663-1504
Click Here For Past Fishing Reports by Captain Reed Montgomery