Bankhead Lake, Alabama, USA
Much more like the river it began as than the lake it is now, Bankhead Lake winds it way through the Metropolitan region of Alabama. With twists and turns rimmed by fingers and coves, the lake stretches 65 miles and flows through parts of Walker, Jefferson, and Tuscaloosa Counties. For almost a hundred years people have been coming to the fishing camps that line Bankhead Lake’s 400-mile…
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Welcome to the ultimate guide to Bankhead Lake! Article topics include:
- All About Bankhead Lake
- Where to Stay
- Vacation Planning Tools
- Things to Do
- Known Fish Species
- Bankhead Lake Map
- Statistics / Weather / Helpful Links
- Bankhead Lake Gifts
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All About Bankhead Lake, AL
Much more like the river it began as than the lake it is now, Bankhead Lake winds it way through the Metropolitan region of Alabama. With twists and turns rimmed by fingers and coves, the lake stretches 65 miles and flows through parts of Walker, Jefferson, and Tuscaloosa Counties. For almost a hundred years people have been coming to the fishing camps that line Bankhead Lake’s 400-mile shoreline, fleeing the hectic pace of nearby Birmingham. Instead, they’ve opted to rock in chairs on porches, swing their legs off docks, and fall asleep to the music of frogs and crickets all as the water of the Black Warrior River moves on.
Also known as Bankhead Reservoir, the lake is an impoundment of the Black Warrior River. It was created in 1916 with the completion of the John Hollis Bankhead Lock and Dam. The 457-mile long Black Warrior-Tombigbee waterway includes Holt, Warrior, Oliver, Coffeeville, Demopolis and Bankhead, with Bankhead the northernmost lake in the system. The waterway is a US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) project created for commercial navigation, hydroelectric power, and recreation. Some sections, including Bankhead Reservoir were created and managed by the Alabama Power Company.
There are no public access points on Bankhead Lake, but there is significant residential and commercial development, including marinas with boat launches, rentals and supplies. The lake is popular with all kinds of boaters. The shoreline is best explored by canoe or kayak, but the deep water and long stretches make power boating very popular. In fact, using the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, boats can travel from Bankhead Lake down to the Gulf of Mexico.
The original development around Bankhead Lake was primarily fish camps, and many of the 1920’s-era cabins still dot the shore. The lake is popular with anglers. In fact, it holds the current state record and former world record for a 25-pound 15-ounce hybrid striped bass caught in 1996. There are healthy populations of large mouth and spotted bass to challenge anglers and some very large, if not plentiful, crappie. The headwaters of Bankhead Reservoir are really the tail waters of Smith Lake, and they are a great place to fish for rainbow trout, catfish, and sunfish. Seasonally, the skipjack herring fishery is exceptional.
Today, planned waterfront communities are springing up beside the old fishing camps, and there is real estate for sale around Bankhead Lake, including both lots and waterfront homes. Vacation rentals include waterfront cabins and cottages. The lake is less than 45 minutes from Birmingham, providing visitors easy access to all the amenities of a big city and making it the perfect place for a second home or weekend getaway. Some properties on Bankhead Lake are partially bordered by the Mulberry Fork Wildlife Management Area. The 35,000-acre area allows hunting for large and small game and helps Bankhead Lake feel farther from Birmingham’s urban center than it actually is.
As it has been doing for almost a century, the water of the Black Warrior River flowing through Bankhead Lake calls the weary to pause as the water does on its way to other places. Offering respite and harkening back to a simpler time, Bankhead Lake lures both fishing poles and bare feet into its clean, clear water.
Things to Do at Bankhead Lake
These are some activities in the Bankhead Lake, AL area visitors can enjoy:
- Vacation Rentals
- Cabin Rentals
- Wildlife Viewing
What Kind of Fish Are in Bankhead Lake?
Bankhead Lake has been known to have the following fish species:
- Black Bass
- Rainbow Trout
- Spotted Bass
- Striped Bass
Find Places to Stay at Bankhead Lake
If you’re considering a Bankhead Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.
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More Sites to Book a Bankhead Lake Vacation
Our interactive Bankhead Lake lodging map above is an easy tool for comparing VRBO rental homes and nearby hotels with Booking.com, but there could be times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodations. Here are some other lake lodging partners we recommend:
Bankhead Lake Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed
Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Surface Area: 9,245 acres
Shoreline Length: 400 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 257 feet
Average Depth: 32 feet
Maximum Depth: 74 feet
Water Volume: 269,215 acre-feet
Completion Year: 1916
Drainage Area: 3,969 sq. miles
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