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
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
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:
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.
- Location: Oak Mountain State Park, Oak Mountain Lake Road, Pelham, AL 35242
- Cost: $5 per adult, $2 per child/senior (62+), free ages 3 + under, cash only
2. Lay Lake is a great fishing spot near Birmingham
Allen’s partial to four boat launch sites, all near great fishing areas.
- Waxahatchee Marina: 265 Waxahatchee Rd, Shelby, AL 35143
- Paradise Point: 231 Paradise Point Dr Suite A, Columbiana, AL 35051
- Beeswax Creek: 245 Beeswax Park Road, Columbiana, AL 35051
- Lacoosa Marina: 150 Lake Shore Dr, Shelby, AL 35143
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
Since Jessica’s dad retired on Logan Martin, the couple spends a lot of time out there between Coosa Island Marina and Rabbit Branch.
- Coosa Island Marina, 1080 Coosa Island Rd, Cropwell, AL 35054
- River’s Edge Marina, 79 Rabbit Branch Circle Cropwell, Al 35054
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 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.
- Location: Lake Howard Boat dock
9 must-have items to make sure you enjoy fishing near Birmingham
- Fishing rod—or reel and line, hook or lure, tackle.
- Cooler with water—even if you’re just kayaking, you’ll still need water to stay hydrated.
- Fishing license—this is a state requirement for fishing in public water. Get yours here.
- 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.
- Pair of needle nose pliers—these are essential for getting hooks out.
- 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.
- Weather-appropriate clothing—sun hat, long-sleeve shirt and a rain jacket just in case.
- Sunglasses—your eyes will thank you.
- Sunscreen— without it, your face, thighs or the tops of your feet might take a beating.