Discover the Deepest Lake in Alabama

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Updated: February 22, 2023
© Quintaped, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original
Share this post on:
Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

Key Points:

  • Lewis Smith Lake is a 21,000-acre reservoir located in north-central Alabama. It was created in 1961 with the construction of the Lewis Smith Dam on the Sipsey Fork of the Black Warrior River.
  • The lake is known for its clear, deep water and is a popular destination for recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming. It is also a popular spot for scuba diving due to its visibility, which can extend up to 50 feet in some areas.
  • Lewis Smith Lake is home to a variety of fish species, including largemouth and spotted bass, crappie, and bluegill. It is also a popular destination for striped bass fishing, with the lake hosting several annual fishing tournaments.

On a 90°F summer day in Alabama, there is nothing better than a day at the lake to cool off. Take out the boat, sunbathe on the shore, or spend some time exploring in a kayak or on a paddleboard. Bring your rod and reel because there are some trophy fish just waiting to be caught on some of the most popular fishing lakes.

Alabama has a few good-sized lakes like Guntersville and Wheeler as well as some smaller, but still recreational lakes, for locals and visitors to enjoy. When it comes to the deepest lakes, the biggest lakes are often the deepest, but that is not always the case. Let’s find out all about the deepest lake in Alabama.  

What is the Deepest Lake in Alabama?

The deepest lake in Alabama is Lewis Smith Lake. Commonly called Smith Lake, this man-made reservoir is not the biggest lake in the state but it is the deepest. Smith Lake is located in north central Alabama about 45 miles northwest of Birmingham.

It is a popular recreational lake for boating, swimming, water sports, and fishing. The Clear Creek Recreational Area is located in the Bankhead National Forest which has a campground with access to the lake. Wake up early, hit the lake for some early morning fishing than spend the afternoon on the nice sandy beach. Clear Creek is just one of the many parks, marinas, and resorts on Smith Lake.

Lewis Smith Lake is the deepest lake in Alabama
Lewis Smith Lake is the deepest lake in Alabama with a depth of 264 feet.

©Quintaped, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons – License

How Deep is the Deepest Lake in Alabama?

The deepest lake in Alabama is 264 feet deep. For reference, a football field is 100 yards and 260 feet is 83 yards so not quite as long as a football field. That is pretty deep when it comes to lakes. Smith Lake covers 21,000 acres and is the sixth-biggest lake in Alabama. Because the lake is fed by many streams and tributaries lake is one of the cleanest lakes in the south as well. You can bet that some of the best-tasting fish come from the cleanest lakes.

How is the Fishing on Smith Lake?

Smith Lake is an excellent fishing lake, with some of the biggest striped bass in the area. You will also find Kentucky spotted bass, hybrid striped bass, largemouth bass, and channel catfish. There are 14 boat ramps on the lake including a large one at the Smith Lake Park at the northeast end of the lake. Smith Lake Park is the place to be on the 4th of July with an impressive fireworks display. The campground has cabins, full hookup sites for your camper, and tent camping. If you want to fish from shore you can try the fishing pier to see if you can catch a record breaker (or maybe just dinner).

Are there any State Fishing Records from Smith Lake?

Yes! There is one current state record and it used to be a world record! The biggest spotted bass ever caught in Alabama was caught by Phillip C. Terry on Smith Lake. His 8-pound 15-ounce bass is a previous world record holder.

What is the Biggest Lake in Alabama?

The biggest lake in Alabama is Lake Guntersville. The beautiful lake is in northeast Alabama on the Tennessee River created by the Guntersville Dam. Wheeler Lake is not far from Guntersville and is the second largest lake in Alabama, also on the Tennessee River. Lake Guntersville is 69,100 acres compared to Wheeler which is 68,300 acres, so both are comparably large lakes. When comparing the deepness Guntersville is 60 feet deep at the deepest point and Wheeler is 57 feet, so close.

Lake Guntersville is the biggest lake in Alabama
Lake Guntersville is the biggest lake in Alabama measuring 69,100 acres.

©Jerry Whaley/

Is the Fishing Better on Lake Guntersville or Wheeler Lake?

Again we find that Lake Guntersville and Wheeler Lake have so much in common. Both lakes offer excellent bass fishing with largemouth bass being one of the most popular catches. You can also find crappie, bluegills, sauger, and catfish in both lakes. When you compare fishing records from both lakes you will find there are more records on Lake Guntersville than Wheeler.

Man fishing for bass on Lake Guntersville in Alabama.
Lake Guntersville in Alabama offers excellent bass fishing with largemouth bass being one of the most popular catches.


What State Fishing Records are on Lake Guntersville?

The biggest grass carp ever caught in Alabama was a 73-pounder caught by Bradley D. Bridges, Sr. on Lake Guntersville. The record carp was caught on April 10, 2012, and the record stands today. Other record breakers from Guntersville include the biggest buffalo fish (57 pounds), the biggest white crappie (a tie at 4 pounds 8 ounces), and yellow bass (2 pounds 8 ounces).

How does the Deepest Lake in Alabama Compare to the Deepest Lake in the US?

Lewis Smith Lake is 264 feet deep but when you compare that to the deepest lake in the US it doesn’t quite seem that deep. The deepest lake in the US is Crater Lake in Oregon at 1,943 feet deep. Crater lake is not a man-made reservoir lake Smith Lake, it is a natural lake that formed in an old volcano after it erupted.  Mount Mazama erupted around 7,700 years ago and left a huge crater at the top of the volcano. Rain and snow melt filled in the deep crater to form the royal blue waters of Crater Lake. There are multiple lookouts around the rim where you can get some amazing photos.

For a little more adventure, you can hike down the Cleetwood Trail to the water’s edge. It is not an easy hike and takes you down 700 feet in elevation from the top. Be aware that the water temps, even in the summer only get up to 55° or 60°so while you can swim, you may not want to! That is one of the big differences between Crater Lake and the deep lakes of Alabama. A swim in Smith, Guntersville, or Wheeler is what makes these lakes some of the most popular recreational lakes in the state.

Animals Found in Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama

Big Largemouth Bass
These game fish are among the most popular species targeted by anglers in Lewis Smith Lake.

©Pierre Rebollar/

Lewis Smith Lake is home to a diverse array of aquatic animals, from tiny invertebrates to large game fish. The lake’s clear, deep water provides ideal habitat for many species, and its various coves and tributaries offer a range of ecosystems to explore.

Here are a few examples of animals you might encounter in and around Lewis Smith Lake:

  • Largemouth and spotted bass: These game fish are among the most popular species targeted by anglers in Lewis Smith Lake. The lake is known for producing trophy-sized bass, with fish weighing up to 10 pounds or more caught each year.
  • Striped bass: Another popular game fish in the lake, striped bass are known for their powerful fights and ability to strip line from a fishing reel. The fish can grow quite large, with some specimens weighing over 30 pounds.
  • Crappie: These small, panfish are popular with anglers who prefer lighter tackle. They are found throughout the lake, with some of the best fishing occurring in the shallow, weedy coves.
  • Freshwater mussels: Lewis Smith Lake is home to several species of freshwater mussels, including the endangered Southern club shell mussel. These filter-feeding animals play an important role in maintaining water quality in the lake.
  • Turtles: Several species of turtles can be found in and around Lewis Smith Lake, including the common snapping turtle, the painted turtle, and the softshell turtle. These reptiles are often seen basking on rocks and logs in the sun.
  • Water snakes: Several species of non-venomous water snakes can be found in the lake, including the Northern water snake and the plain-bellied water snake. These snakes are important predators in the lake ecosystem, feeding on fish and other aquatic animals.

Whether you’re fishing, swimming, or just exploring the lake, you’re sure to encounter a wide variety of fascinating animal species in and around Lewis Smith Lake. With its diverse ecosystems and abundance of wildlife, the lake is truly a nature lover’s paradise.

Up Next:

More from A-Z Animals

The Featured Image

Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama
Lewis Smith Lake in Alabama.
© Quintaped, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original

Share this post on:
About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

  1., Available here:
  2. Outdoor Alabama, Available here:
  3. Cullman County Parks & Rec, Available here:
  4. Alabama State Parks, Available here:
  5. Outdoor Alabama, Available here: