Swimming a Flash Mob Jr. over the end of a submerged Island you know that if your rod suddenly bows it could be to the weight of a pair of 5-pound largemouths – or even to a single fish that accounts for just as many pounds. Bass grow seriously big in Lake Guntersville, and that is part of the allure of fishing this legendary destination.

An impoundment of the Tennessee River in North Alabama, Lake Guntersville covers nearly 70,000 acres and is 75 miles long. Beyond being known for growing heavyweight largemouths, Guntersville is famous for the frog fishing that erupts in vast grass mats every fall, summer flipping in the same mats and sizzling lipless crankbait fishing early in the spring. It also was the place where the lid was blown off the Alabama Rig in 2011. Lake Guntersville’s fertile waters have hosted countless major tournaments, including two Bassmaster Classics, and a few past Classic champions now make it their home water.

Guntersville’s fertility, plentiful and diverse forage and outstanding habitat allow fish populations to thrive. A 15-inch minimum size on largemouths, which has been in place for nearly two decades, helps account for an excellent size structure. The most recent BAIT report, which comes from extensive tournament result data, puts Guntersville among the top lakes in Alabama for trophy bass potential.

From a bass fishing standpoint, Lake Guntersville is essentially a largemouth lake. Deep bluff banks at the lake’s lower end do hold some spotted bass, and spots occasionally come from select other locations. Anglers likewise also catch an occasional smallmouth, usually way up the river or in select deep areas along the main river channel. Largemouths rule, though, and bass anglers virtually always target bass of the largemouth variety with their strategies.

Because of its size and habitat diversity, Guntersville can be fished many ways, and the best strategies vary substantially according to season and conditions. Important manmade cover includes riprap, bridges, boat docks and planted brush. Natural cover includes extensive milfoil, hydrilla and eelgrass beds, rocky banks, stumps and downed trees. Major structural features, like points, bars, sunken islands, river ledges and ditches are also critical at Guntersville, especially when current is pushing through the river channel.

Fishing Approaches

During the spring, much of the best fishing occurs up major creeks and in shallow bays. The most acclaimed early bite is on lipless crankbaits over developing grass beds, but virtually every popular spring bass strategy can play an important role on Guntersville from late February through early May.

Through summer, much of the focus shifts to the lake’s main body – especially structure along the Tennessee River channel. Flipping matted vegetation, walking Spooks over the edges of the grass and cranking channel edges all account for a lot summer bass. The same grassy areas produce well during the fall, when the frog bite gets really good, as do extensive mats in backwater areas.

During the winter, bass tend to suspend over structure along the river channel and the lower channels of major creeks. That’s when YUMbrella rigs and Suspending Rattlin’ Rogues tend to produce best.

Although Lake Guntersville’s bass fishing earns the most acclaim, this big lake’s fertile waters produce excellent fishing for several species. Crappie, bluegills and redear sunfish (shellcrackers) thrive in Guntersville and are big and abundant. Crappie fishing heats up early in the spring and gets extra good again in the fall. Shooting docks is popular and effective for crappie. Bluegill and shellcracker fishing is best late in the spring and into early summer, when they spawn in big colonies on broad flats and up creeks. For either, the most dependable strategy is to use a slip cork to suspend bait just off the bottom in bedding areas, using worms for shellcrackers and crickets for bluegills.

Like other Tennessee River impoundments, Guntersville also supports a fabulous catfishery, with channels, blues and flatheads all plentiful, and the latter two growing to extra-large sizes. Although the fisheries are less popular, other sport fish species in Guntersville include striped bass, white bass and saugers.

Guntersville Planning


More than 20 boat ramps provide good boating access to all parts of Lake Guntersville. Many of the same areas, plus parks and various bridge rights-of-way, also provide good shoreline access.


Waterfront Bay Cabins

Lake Guntersville State Park Cabins, chalets, lodge rooms, camper cabins and campground

Guided Fishing

Jimmy Mason, 256-762-0014


The minimum size for largemouth bass at Lake Guntersville is 15 inches. Otherwise, statewide creel, possession and size limits apply.

Lurenet Favorites

YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr.

Smithwick Suspending Rogue, Foxy Shad 

Cotton Cordell Super Spot, Royal Shad

BOOYAH Pad Crasher, Dart Frog

Heddon Super Spook Jr., Foxy Mama