A Look at Wildlife on Alabama’s Lakes

Alabama is widely known as having the most navigable waterways in the United States. You can run our rivers from Tennessee all the way to Gulf of Mexico by boat! But what can you expect to see in the sky and catch in the water on our many lakes and rivers? What you’ll read below covers most of the state’s waterways in general, with a few interesting species unique to certain lakes along the way!


While the list is exhaustive for birds common to Alabama, it’s simpler to narrow down our waterfowl into three categories:

1) ducks, geese and swans,

2) herons, ibises and cranes, and finally

3) grebes, loons and other waterfowl

Some of these birds have been native species since time began, but others are relatively new arrivals. On Weiss Lake for instance, I can remember when sea gulls, great blue herons, bald eagles and most recently, pelicans were an incredibly rare sight! The latter two are a true treat to witness. Bald eagles are easily recognizable, (and huge!) often seen causing the pine trees to sway to and fro when they land. Pelicans typically roam the lake in massive flocks and flap their wings on the surface of the water to disorient baitfish schools they feed on. Pelicans didn’t appear on Weiss until after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when their migratory pattern was thrown off by the massive storm’s winds. They settled here and meander the lake cove to cove.


Our office often gets asked by lake buyers about what type of fishing can be had in Alabama, and again the list of species is lengthy. The most common types are broken down into

  1. Sunfish – those species of bream and all the colorful varieties thereof,
  2. Bass – largemouth, smallmouth and spotted to name a few, and
  3. Crappie – black, white or hybrid

Certain lakes are known for an abundance of their species. Guntersville Lake, aka the “Big G” is known worldwide as a largemouth bass trophy fishery – home to many national tournaments yearly. The Tennessee River chain lakes like Wheeler, Wilson and Pickwick are known for those feisty smallmouth, while Weiss Lake is known far and wide as the Crappie Capital of the World! Another interesting species is saltwater striped bass found on Weiss Lake and a couple others. These large trophy fish only lay their eggs in river systems with enough current to roll the eggs miles downstream before they’ll fertilize. The Coosa River current in Weiss is perfect for growing large, upwards of 30 pound stripers! This makes for exciting fishing when you stumble on a school, as they’ll bite easily cast after cast!

Perhaps the most interesting animal found in Alabama’s lakes is a real shocker – Jellyfish! You read that right, we even have jellyfish in Alabama’s lakes! Lake Martin, to be specific, is home to a rare freshwater jellyfish who’s stingers are too tiny to be felt by human legs. Having seen these firsthand they are incredible little creatures that the kids find mesmerizing in the lake’s pristinely clear waters!

Whether you’re a nature lover, or simply looking for a place to take a much-deserved rest, Alabama’s lakes are second-to-none in either department. Contact a lakefront living specialist today for your own slice of the lake life!

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