The 10 Biggest Lakes in Alabama

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: May 28, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Patrick Jennings
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Alabama has a diverse topography that includes mountains, valleys, streams, rivers, and lakes. All of the larger lakes are man-made, built by damming rivers. Alabama doesn’t have nearly as many lakes as many other states, but some of the country’s best are right here, and what it lacks in the number of lakes is made up for by an abundance of rivers. It probably has over a hundred lakes, and these artificial water features have become popular holiday destinations, offering a wide range of relaxation and recreational activities. The lakes are ideal for a fun-filled vacation, from boating in the quiet and beautiful waters to camping in the surrounding areas surrounded by scenic splendor. And since Alabama is a southern state with a mild climate, you can enjoy outdoor adventures all year long. Below, we will explore the 10 biggest lakes in Alabama.

The 10 Biggest Lakes in Alabama 

    10. Neely Henry Lake

Neely Henry Lake Alabama
Lake Neely Henry has a surface area of 11,200 acres.

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Neely Henry is a lake located along the Coosa River, a 280-mile-long tributary of the Alabama River that flows through Alabama and Georgia. It is roughly an hour northeast of Birmingham and makes for a terrific day getaway for city folks on a sweltering, humid summer day. The dam and river, named after an executive of the Alabama Power Company, have a generating capacity of 72,900 kilowatts, and the lake has a surface area of 11,200 acres (45.3 km²). Swimming, bird watching, and picnicking are all available along the lake’s 540-kilometer shoreline. It is a great place to catch largemouth bass, spotted bass, sunfish, bluegill, crappie, and catfish. Both natural and man-made structures abound in this lake, providing many opportunities for fishers to catch fish.

    9. Lay Lake

Lay lake in Alabama
Lay Lake is the oldest lake on the Coosa River.

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Sitting just 35 minutes away from the city of Birmingham, Lay Lake is a reservoir that is over 12,000 acres (48.9 km²) and used for recreation and hydroelectric generation. With a shoreline of 289 miles, it is the oldest lake on the Coosa River and is famous for boating and fishing tournaments throughout the year. With its miles of shoreline, Lay Lake is recognized for its diverse bass population and crystal clear water. It consists of five islands that are ideal for sailing. The numerous boat ramps and deep water make this an excellent location for boating, scuba diving, and snorkeling. Crappie and largemouth bass, spotted bass, and bream dwell here. However, Lay Lake has its oddities when it comes to consumption warnings. Only a portion of the lake has a no-consumption advisory for largemouth bass for youngsters and women of reproductive age.

    8. Wilson Lake

Wilson Lake

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Wilson Lake is located in northern Alabama in the city of Florence and extends upstream for 15 miles to Wheeler Dam, covering 15,930 acres (64.6 km²). At this size, Wilson Lake pales compared to the size of other Tennessee Valley Authority lakes along the Tennessee River. Being a small lake does not mean Wilson Lake does not produce big fish. It has largemouth bass weighing more than 7 pounds, smallmouth bass weighing more than 5 pounds, and blue catfish weighing more than 50 pounds. Wilson Lake has an abundance of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and crappie, among other game fish. There are various marinas and launch facilities on the lake, so you can participate in different water activities. Boat ramps are plentiful around the lake, providing easy access to all parts of the reservoirs.

    7. Logan Martin Lake

Logan Martin Lake Alabama
Nicknamed “Lake of a Thousand Coves,” Logan Martin Lake is one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country.

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Logan Martin Lake flows on the Coosa River in east-central Alabama that covers 17,000 acres (69 km²) surface area. With a shoreline of 275 miles, it is nicknamed “Lake of a Thousand Coves” by locals. Logan Martin is one of only a few Alabama lakes that allow houseboats or vessels considered as fully-equipped residences. All coves are ideal spots for docking and exploring the natural environment. This beautiful lake is also famous for boating, skiing, and swimming and is known as one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country.

Logan Martin Lake is home to a wide variety of aquatic species, with the game and nongame fish being the most popular for human consumption. The lake is home to many largemouths and spotted bass, striped bass, white bass, hybrid bass, crappie, catfish (mainly channel), bream, drum, carp, and gar.

    6. Smith Lake

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

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Lewis Smith Lake, located in northern Alabama, about an hour from Birmingham and Huntsville, is a popular day-trip destination for locals. It is a reservoir lake with a 21,000-acre surface area and a 500-mile shoreline. With a depth of 264 feet, Lewis Smith Lake is the deepest and one of the clearest lakes in Alabama. The lake is also one of the least polluted and one of the most pristine bodies of water in the southeast, nourished by streams and rivers. The rugged bluffs and towering cliffs along the shoreline make it ideal for cliff jumping, rope swinging hangouts, or simply sunbathing. Numerous coves dot the lake, adding to its natural charm. 

    5. Weiss Lake

Weiss Lake Alabama
Weiss Lake is known as the “Crappie Capital of the World.”

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Although 90% of Weiss Lake is in Alabama, it is shared with the neighboring state of Georgia. The Coosa River, Chattooga River, and Little River contribute to the 32,000-acre lake. Weiss Lake has a shoreline that stretches for almost 450 miles, studded with privately owned hotels and marinas. There are also numerous campgrounds for those that would rather sleep under the stars. It is also known as the “Crappie Capital of the World,” and common loons, horned grebes, and dabbling and diving ducks thrive here. Weiss Lake is primarily a shallow lake, but one thing health experts stress: to prevent infection, take precautions.

    4. Lake Martin

Lake Martin, Alabama
The fourth-largest lake in Alabama is Lake Martin.

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Lake Martin stretches across Tallapoosa, Elmore, and Coosa counties in Alabama. It is a 39,000-acre (178 km²) reservoir with more than 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) of wooded shoreline. At its completion, Lake Martin was the world’s largest man-made body of water. It has become a popular holiday destination because it is the center of various leisure activities. Walking trails around the lake are best for taking in the scenery and viewing local birds. Many small islands dot Lake Martin, albeit the majority are uninhabited. Popular fishes include largemouth bass, striped bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish. While some people claim alligators live here, this has yet to be proven. Lake Martin is also home to bird species such as the Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, and Roseate Spoonbill.

    3. Pickwick Lake

Pickwick Lake
Covering 43,100 acres, Pickwick Lake is the third-biggest lake in Alabama.

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Pickwick Lake, located in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, covers 43,100 acres (174 km²) and is well known for smallmouth bass and Tennessee River Catfish. It is another great lake to visit if you plan to do any fishing this summer. Pickwick has around two miles of the public swimming beach, but it is unsupervised. There are no sharks in Pickwick Lake, but according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, there is an alligator in Indian Creek. In addition to bass, the lake contains significant numbers of crappie, catfish, walleye, sauger, striped bass, white bass, sunfish, and other species. Fishing from the bank is challenging, but canoes, kayaks, pontoons, pleasure boats, and many forms of fishing boats can get you to regions where fish are abundant.

    2. Wheeler Lake

Wheeler Lake
The second-largest lake in Alabama is Wheeler Lake.

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Wheeler Lake is in the northern part of the state of Alabama in the United States, between Rogersville and Huntsville. With a surface area of 68,300 acres (276.4 km²), it is the state’s second-largest lake after its upstream neighbor Lake Guntersville. Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, pumpkinseed, sunfish, and crappie are some significant fish found here. In addition, the lake is a popular recreation and tourist destination, with around four million visitors each year.

Visitors can enjoy camping, boating, and fishing in the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, located several miles upstream from the dam. It began as a wintering habitat for ducks, geese, and other migratory birds in 1938. Thousands of wintering ducks and cranes visit the refuge each year. The endangered whooping crane first came in 2004 and now spends the winter at the sanctuary.

    1. Guntersville Lake

Guntersville Lake Alabama
The biggest lake in Alabama is Guntersville Lake.

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Lake Guntersville is the largest lake in Alabama, lying between the cities of Bridgeport and Guntersville. With a surface area of 69,100 acres (279.6 km²), it also gets kudos for being voted the favorite lake in the state. Guntersville came from John Gunter, an early settler of the area. You would also be in for a treat, especially if you are a bird watcher because the surrounding landscape is home to bald eagles, gadwalls, and other birds. There are also boat launches for those who want to go deeper into the water for bass and catfish.

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