Reed Montgomery


By Reed Montgomery / Reeds Guide Service


Impounded 1916

Lake Level: full pool (varies with winter rain)

I can remember many cold, winter days while fishing for bass on Bankhead Lake as a young man. The reason being is because of so many bass we caught! At times we had as many as 50 bass in a day's time while fishing from shallow to deep water around wood cover, rocks and aquatic weeds on this cover filled Warrior River Lake, Impounded in 1916.

Bankhead Lake (just called " the Warrior " by locals) is situated less than 20 miles from the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama. But you would not think it is located so close to a major city consisting of over one million people. We usually found ourselves all alone, while other anglers were home watching TV in a nice, warm house during the cold, winter months of December, January and February. Oh, but the times have changed.

Catching 50 bass in one days fishing is unheard of today, especially during the toughest fishing conditions of the year -- winter. Most people would think you were telling a "good ol' big one" if you said that today. Its still called, " the Warrior " by locals, but being all alone during the winter months is now unheard of. But there are some cold, winter days when only a few boat trailers are seen at the boat launch. Big bass days, when pictures are taken of big bass caught under the toughest of conditions. Pictures you can show your warm hearted friends as you stop off at their warm house...on the way back from the lake!

Fishing Bankhead Lake during the dead of winter shows many variables to consider prior to your trip. Heavy rains can swell the lake to over full pool. This is good for shallow water anglers, for largemouth bass always move into shallow, flooded cover when lake levels rise. Of course if you are fishing cold, muddy water following winter's heavy rains, you are up against nature's toughest fishing conditions.

So finding clear water is always your objective after a few days of heavy winter rain. Avoiding the lakes headwaters is first. This goes for the mid to far back ends of major feeder creeks. These spots will be very muddy following a few days of rain with rain runoff. But keep one thing in mind. They do clear up fast and most anglers will avoid these places and not even venture their boat any further, to see if the previously muddy rain run-off head waters, are clearing.

Aquatic weeds on this lake are many. In other seasons the lake is flooded with growth from all types of aquatic weeds such as Lilly pads, which all but die and whither away during winter. Finding the greenest weeds available during winter means targeting sun drenched pockets situated along the lake's protected northern banks. This is the ticket to finding active bass during the winter months living and feeding around Bankhead Lakes weeds. Avoid fishing in and around dead or dyeing weeds, usually turned dark green or brown from the lack of oxygen. There are very little prey and very few bass predators around these types of weeds during the dead of winter. These decayed weeds also show very little oxygen (and clearer water usually found surrounding these weeds), like greener weed types will display.

Fishing shallow water this winter season on Bankhead Lake, anglers will discover loads of wood cover to explore throughout the entire lake. Log jams can be seen on every main river flat, places where main river current can position baitfish and bass. Current edges and targeting spots within this wood cover are likely ambush spots holding bass of all sizes. Stumps, laying trees and brush piles are also good winter time wood cover to target. Isolated wood cover can hold one big dominant bass or several bass that prefer one lone spot for ambush purposes. Always approach these isolated spots with stealth.

Laying trees can be fished by slowly targeting the outer edges with lures that will not hang up, spoiling the entire spot when you do go in to retrieve hung lures. One mistake many anglers make is to try and out cast their partner when approaching this isolated cover. Usually resulting in a bad cast and more hung lures. Agreeing on each angler choosing one side or the other of the targeted wood cover, is a much better way to approach isolated cover and results in you catching, not spooking these bass.

Rock bluffs can be found on the main lake and even far up in major feeder creeks, such as the many scenic rock bluffs that adorn Valley Creek. These are wintertime bass habitats and there are always some biting bass on rock bluffs. You can fish right along the banks and be targeting spots that drop off into deep water. Rock bluffs can show broken off banks, whole banks that have just slid right off the original bank into the water, or isolated rocks and boulders, slab rocks and even small pockets within the bluffs, featuring wood cover, small rocks or small pebble bottoms. Trees are often found laying on the banks of rock bluffs, or they are found bunched up in logjams or crisscrossed with several other trees or laying logs. Providing homes for bream, minnows, crappie, catfish and even crayfish, all delicious and nutritious meals for some big largemouth bass and spotted bass this winter.

Barge traffic is common on the Warrior River. So is current created when water is passed through the locks and dams. This is, to the spotted bass that make up the Bankhead Lake, their dinner bell. It is time to fish the mouths of creeks and small pockets, along main river flats and all around deep, rock bluffs and secondary ledges nearby. It is also a good time to just simply fish around red and green river channel marker buoys. These are marked, easy to fish, original river channel drop-offs, that hold bass all winter long. Especially when current is evident, easily visible by observing buoys leaning down river.

* Lure suggestions and wintertime fishing techniques for Bankhead Lake and other Alabama Lakes can be seen at the " fishing tips " link on my website:

* Need help fishing Bankhead Lake this winter? Always call on Reeds Guide Service...first! Alabama's (and The Warrior's), oldest Bass Fishing Guide Service. See: for more info.

Always wear your life jacket and outboard motor kill switch when fishing this winter. Dress warm -- hypothermia kills! Always, during winter, have a change of dry clothes in the boat, fire starting materials and matches or a lighter. Be safe and courteous to other anglers. Watch out for floating logs when navigating Bankhead any season. Stop and fish...never run a boat in the fog on our lakes!

Safety pays!

Thanks and Good Fishin'

This lake 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