List of Common Jones Bluff Reservoir Fish Species [Updated]
Jones Bluff Reservoir, which may also be known as R. E. “Bob” Woodruff Lake, is located on the Alabama River in Sumter County, Alabama. The reservoir spans 12,510 acres and is basically a flooded 80-mile portion of the Alabama River created by the completion of the Robert F. Henry Lock and Dam.
The Robert F. Henry Lock and Dam was a project completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1975, and the goal was to create an impoundment for hydroelectric production as well as create an area for recreation. Currently, the dam is generating enough hydroelectricity to power about 45,000 homes.
Being a riverine impoundment, Jones Bluff Reservoir has minimal fluctuation in water level, but the reservoir has differing current levels depending on the powerplant’s generation schedule. During hydropower generation, the current in the river and impoundment is faster than when there is no generation. The reservoir also contains many backwaters in areas where creeks have flooded, which provides calm waters that are great for recreation purposes.
Jones Bluff Reservoir provides different environments that allow visitors to partake in a variety of recreational activities. The reservoir is surrounded by many different parks that visitors can walk in and view the river and wildlife in the surrounding area. There are also different museums in the area that teach about wildlife and heritage. Campgrounds are scattered along the reservoir, and there are opportunities along the shoreline to swim and launch boats.
Boating is a very popular activity to do at the reservoir, and fishing is equally as popular. Jones Bluff Reservoir harbors many different fish species due to varying physical conditions in the reservoir, which makes the reservoir a popular fishing destination in Alabama. Below are the most common species of fish that can be found in Jones Bluff Reservoir.
List of Fish Species in the Jones Bluff Reservoir
1) Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)
Largemouth bass are a highly popular sport fish in Jones Bluff Reservoir, and they can be found in backwater areas of the impoundment where there are rocky or vegetated coverings. Largemouth bass get their name from their mouth, which extends past the eye, unlike smallmouth bass.
Largemouth bass have olive-green bodies with dark mottling along the back and speckles along the sides. This species typically grows to about 15 – 18 inches long, although the largest largemouth ever recorded was 22 pounds and 4 ounces. Largemouths are carnivores that primarily feed on crayfish but will also eat other fishes and insects.
2) Spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus)
Spotted bass are another very popular sporting species in Jones Bluff Reservoir, and these fish are influenced by the power generation schedule of the dam. The best time to spot these fish in the reservoir is during a time of hydropower generation because this species prefers higher currents. Spotted bass have an olive-green back that fades to silvery sides and a light belly.
This species gets its name from the rows of small dark spots that line their belly. These fish average around 10 – 17 inches in length, and they weigh 0.5 – 3.5 pounds. Spotted bass also have a tooth patch on their tongues, which helps them eat crayfish, insects, and smaller fishes. The daily creel limit for all black bass species combined in Alabama is 10 fish, and only five of these fish can be smallmouth bass.
3) White bass (Morone chrysops)
White bass can be found in Jones Bluff Reservoir where the water has a slight current. These fish are a silvery-white color, and they wear 6 – 8 black stripes laterally across their bodies. They have an underbite mouth, much like the largemouth bass; however, white bass are more closely related to striped bass.
White bass are mid-sized fish, and they average about 12 – 14 inches in length and weigh around two pounds. This species is highly aggressive when it comes to feeding, and schools of white bass will hunt together for items such as gizzard shad, perch, carp, and other fish species. There is currently a 15-fish daily creel limit for white bass in Alabama.
4) Hybrid striped bass (Morone saxatilis x Morone chrysops)
Hybrid striped bass, also known as wipers, are crosses between striped bass and white bass, and they are produced in hatcheries in order to be stocked in bodies of water like Jones Bluff Reservoir. These fish prefer waters similar to that of true striped bass in areas that are cool, clear, and deep.
Striped bass hybrids have bodies that are laterally compressed and are silver in color with broken dark horizontal lines. This hybrid also has an arched back, much like white bass, in addition to two tongue patches, which they inherit from the striped bass. Striped bass hybrids grow very rapidly, and they can reach 18 – 20 pounds by eight years of age. These fish travel in schools and will hunt for items such as shad, minnows, crustaceans, and insects. The daily creel limit for striped bass and hybrid striped bass is 15 fish in Alabama.
5) Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
Channel catfish are one of the most abundant types of catfish in the United States, and they are commonly seen in rivers and lakes like Jones Bluff Reservoir. This species will most likely be found near covered areas and the shoreline of the reservoir. Like all catfish, the channel catfish does not have scales and has barbels on the upper and lower jaw; however, the channel catfish can be distinguished by its deeply forked tail, silvery body, and overbite.
These fish grow to about 10 – 20 inches long and weigh anywhere from 2 – 10 pounds. Catfish tend to eat quite a bit of food, so they use their barbels covered in taste buds to sense their surroundings and find food like snails, fishes, snakes, frogs, insects, aquatic plants, and possibly birds.
6) Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus)
Blue catfish are a close relative of channel catfish, and they are a relatively abundant catfish species in Jones Bluff Reservoir. Blue catfish have a blueish-gray back that fades to a white belly, and they possess no spots, unlike channel catfish.
These fish generally range between 20 – 60 inches in length, and have an average weight of around 20 – 50 pounds; however, they can easily reach 100 or more pounds if they are older. Blue catfish have jaws lined with tiny teeth that help them eat just about anything they can catch including insects, fish, worms, and crustaceans.
7) Flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris)
Flathead catfish can be found in areas of Jones Bluff Reservoir where there are plenty of rocky or woody coverings and deeper waters. Flathead catfish are generally bigger than channel catfish, and flatheads are a mottled brown color with a square tail and an underbite. This species, like the channel catfish, has barbs on their dorsal and pectoral fins, which are used to poke predators or humans that may have startled them.
This species usually averages 20 – 30 inches in length, and they can exceed 100 pounds. Flatheads are fierce carnivores, and they typically prey on a variety of fish species such as drum, shad, and other catfish species, including their own! There is currently no creel limit on any catfish below 34 inches in length in Alabama, but only one catfish that exceeds 34 inches can be taken.
8) Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)
Black crappies are relatively common in Jones Bluff Reservoir, and they enjoy still, clear waters. Black crappies have compressed bodies that are darker green on the back with dark mottling on the silvery sides. They also have 7 – 8 spines on their dorsal fins, which distinguishes them from white crappies, which have 5 – 6 spines.
This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, so the males tend to be larger and darker than the females. Black crappies typically grow to about 8 – 12 inches and weigh 0.25 – 1 lbs. These fish are able to see relatively well in the dark, so they will generally hunt during the night or early morning for small fish, crustaceans, and insects.
9) White crappie (Pomoxis annularis)
White crappies are more abundant at Jones Bluff Reservoir compared to black crappies because they do better in more turbid waters, so the best chances of finding these fish are in vegetated areas near windier shorelines. This species has compressed bodies that are silvery olive on the back and silvery white towards the belly. These fish have dark vertical bands along the sides of their bodies, and their gill covers have spines. During breeding season, males look slightly different than females because the males develop a dark throat.
White crappies average about 9 – 10 inches long and are around 2 pounds as adults. These fish generally eat smaller fishes like minnows or shad, but they will also eat insects like mayflies. The current daily creel limit for crappies is 30 fish in Alabama, and all crappie kept must be greater than nine inches in length.
10) Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
Bluegills are a common sunfish in Jones Bluff Reservoir, and they can be found in shallow, vegetated areas of lakes as juveniles, but adults will tend to be in deeper waters during the day. These fish are characterized by having disk-shaped bodies with an olive green back, an orangish-yellow belly, and a black dot at the base of the dorsal fin. Bluegills get their name from the bluish hue surrounding the gill covers.
This species averages around 7.5 inches in length and weighs around half a pound as adults. These fish have very little mouths, so they will eat smaller prey such as zooplankton, insects, worms, and snails. Bluegills are a main source of food for many larger fish species such as largemouth bass, so they have adapted to be maneuverable. For instance, this species can make very quick stops by spreading out their pectoral fins.
11) Redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)
Redear sunfish are found in Jones Bluff Reservoir in areas where the water is warmer and has a moderate amount of cover. These fish have laterally compressed bodies that are usually green, gray, or olive, and they will sometimes have dark flecks and vertical lines along the length of them. Redear sunfish get their name from their black opercular (ear) flaps that have a bright red border in males and an orange border for females.
This species can grow up to 12 inches long and generally weigh under two pounds. Redear sunfish are benthic feeders, and once they become adults and develop a strong jaw, they will almost exclusively feed on aquatic snails. These fish are slightly harder to catch compared to bluegills, but they are still willing to bite many kinds of bait, which makes this sunfish a great starter fish for new anglers.
12) Gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum)
Gizzard shad are a very common prey species that can be found in areas of Jones Bluff Reservoir where there are higher winds and turbidity. This species has silvery blue backs that fade to white sides, and they average between 6 – 8 inches long and 1 – 8 ounces in weight. These fish also have a long final ray on the dorsal fin that resembles a whip.
Gizzard shad get their name from their unique muscular stomach that acts almost like a bird gizzard, which breaks down plant matter and phytoplankton that the fish filter feed on from the water column. This species is very important for the health of many ecosystems including Jones Bluff Reservoir because they help control plankton populations, and they are a prey item for many other fish species including crappies, white bass, and black bass.
13) Threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense)
Threadfin shad is a prey species commonly found in Jones Bluff Reservoir, and they are mainly seen in shallower waters where the temperature is warmer. These fish have a silvery-blue back that fades to whitish sides and belly. Their fins, especially their deeply forked caudal fins, are usually tinted yellow, and their chins have black speckles.
Threadfin shad look very similar to gizzard shad, but a major difference is that the threadfin shad’s upper jaw does not project beyond the lower jaw, unlike the gizzard shad. Threadfin shad are also smaller than gizzard shad, as adult threadfin shad grow to about 2 – 3 inches in length and weigh about one ounce. Threadfin shad almost exclusively eat zooplankton and phytoplankton, which they either filter feed through their gill rakers or hunt individually.