Love to fish? 5 spots within 2 hours of Birmingham to cast your line


kayak fishing
Outside Lacoosa Marina on Lay Lake. Photo via The Yak Shak

Fall is on the way, and cooler temperatures mean better weather for fishing. We talked to Allen and Jessica Norris, owners of The Yak Shak in Pelham, about their favorite spots to fish within two hours of Birmingham, plus what you need to bring to get the most out of your trip. Here’s what they said.

Meet Allen + Jessica Norris

The Yak Shak podcast
Did you know The Yak Shak now has a podcast? Photo via The Yak Shak

This couple has been fishing their whole lives. Originally from Georgia, Allen’s been kayak fishing for a decade—since he moved to Birmingham.

Originally from Mobile, Jessica’s been kayak fishing for the three years she’s known Allen.

They’re big fans of largemouth bass and crappie, which Allen says is the “most delicious, boneless and easy-to-fillet” freshwater fish.

They consider themselves novices who try to get better all the time, and are happy to teach anybody everything they know.

Allen + Jessica’s top 5 spots for fishing near Birmingham

The Yak Shak
Jessica Nichols with a fish. Photo via The Yak Shak

When I asked Allen for his top five favorite fishing spots in the area, it took him all of about a minute to rattle off these spots:

1. Oak Mountain State Park

Oak Mountain State Park
I want to be there. Right. Now. Photo via Oak Mountain State Park’s Facebook

Up above Flipside Watersports, Lunker Lake is a great beginner-friendly place to take your own kayak. 

Oak Mountain is the largest state park in Alabama, and it’s easy to launch to and from, whichever lake you decide to go on. 

Ready to gear up for your fishing expedition? Check out The Yak Shak in Pelham today.

2. Lay Lake is a great fishing spot near Birmingham

Jessica Norris, kayak fishing
Jessica with a bass on Lay Lake. Photo via The Yak Shak

Allen’s partial to four boat launch sites, all near great fishing areas.

He loves being able to launch his boat and paddle or float near the residential areas, and says Lay Lake is a great tournament lake, with a ton of big bass.

3. Logan Martin

Kayak fishing near Coosa Marina
Allen in his happy place, just outside of Coosa Marina. Photo via The Yak Shak

Since Jessica’s dad retired on Logan Martin, the couple spends a lot of time out there between Coosa Island Marina and Rabbit Branch. 

4. Lake Guntersville

lake guntersville, fishing spots near Birmingham
Lake Guntersville is such a great spot for kayaking. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Back in July 2020, Bassmaster Magazine ranked Lake Guntersville as second on its list of Best Bass Lakes of the Decade.

In 2020, the Bassmaster Classic was there, with weigh-ins at the BJCC, right before the pandemic shut everything down. 

Location: Lake Guntersville boat ramps

5. Lake Howard

Lake Howard
Lake Howard in Sylacauga is a great place to fish. Photo via Billy Beane

Lake Howard is a smaller, trolling-motor only lake in Sylacauga. This means bass or pontoon boats must move slowly.

It’s a beautiful, deep, clear lake and great for kayaking. There’s one launch that’s very straightforward for kayakers to use. 

9 must-have items to make sure you enjoy fishing near Birmingham

Yak Shak, fishing near Birmingham
Getting prepared for a day out on the water. Photo via The Yak Shak
  1. Fishing rod—or reel and line, hook or lure, tackle.
  2. Cooler with water—even if you’re just kayaking, you’ll still need water to stay hydrated.
  3. Fishing license—this is a state requirement for fishing in public water. Get yours here.
  4. Fishing net—if you’re in a kayak and hook a big fish, having a net makes it a lot easier to control so you won’t lose your catch.
  5. Pair of needle nose pliers—these are essential for getting hooks out.
  6. Anchor—this will allow you to stop, relax and concentrate without having to worry about the current, wind or waves. Also, the fish forget you’re there after you make noise paddling up, so you’re likely to catch more.
  7. Weather-appropriate clothing—sun hat, long-sleeve shirt and a rain jacket just in case.
  8. Sunglasses—your eyes will thank you.
  9. Sunscreen— without it, your face, thighs or the tops of your feet might take a beating.

Ready to go fishing? The Yak Shak is ready to help you get everything you need.

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Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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