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Alabama is rich in fishing holes

"In Alabama, you're never more than a mile away from a place to catch fish." That's the boast that our Tourism and Travel Bureau states in their Fish Alabama brochure. And they're right! Alabama is rich with abundant water and practically unlimited fishing opportunities.

Alabama's anglers are fortunate to live in a state with so many places to fish, so many types of fish, and such varied habitat in which to fish. In fact, Alabama is second only to Tennessee as having more fish species than any other state.

Even though our fish and their habitats are natural resources, they still require a great deal of management. That's where our Fisheries Section ofthe Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries comes in. The Fisheries Section staff is a group of dedicated professionals who work to balance the needs ofthe resources (so they're protected and remain healthy) with the needs ofthe anglers. Good fisheries management results in good fishing.

Fisheries management involves much more than making sure the fish population is sufficient in your favorite fishing hole. We're involved in numerous ongoing projects and programs. Some are statewide, some are on a local basis, but they're all in keeping with our basic mission to protect, enhance and manage our freshwater resources for the present with the future in mind.

Years ago, based on a research program studying recreational fisheries on ponds of small watersheds, fisheries biologists established principles concerning pond construction, water quality, watershed management, and fish population dynamics. Alabama legislators and conservationists combined this knowledge with a desire to provide fishing opportunities for more people into a program which resulted in development of the Alabama State Lakes Program.

Since 1950, the program has grown to include 23 lakes in 20 Alabama counties. The lakes range in size from 13 to 184 acres and are operated by the Fisheries Section of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, providing quality fishing opportunities at an affordable price. Each lake has a manager, contracted for daily operation. Fishing supplies, lake contour maps and refreshments are available from the lakeside store at each location.

The State Lakes are regularly checked and sampled by the Fisheries Section biologists to determine the best management practices and plans. In some, small bass were removed to allow more bream to grow to harvestable size. Fish attractors were recently put out at Dallas County Lake. The pier and restroom facilities at Dallas County Lake are renovated to meet ADA standards. All 23 Alabama Public Fishing Lakes are open and ready for spring anglers.

Mark your calendar for June 9 -- Free Fishing Day in Alabama, when residents and nonresidents may fish without a fishing license. We offer Free Fishing Day during National Fishing Week every year to introduce non-anglers to the sport of fishing and to remind former anglers of the fun they've been missing. It's a good time to pass on the tradition of a family fun day of fishing to Alabama's youth. Some lakes may still require special fees or permits, and pond owners' permission is still needed to fish private ponds, but exemption from the usual fishing license requirement will be in effect all over the state on Saturday, June 9.

The Fisheries Section works with local governments and corporate and civic sponsors around the state to sponsor special fishing events, geared to get kids involved in fishing, especially in urban areas. Check with your district fisheries office about Kids' Fishing Day or other special events planned for your area this spring and summer.

Each year more and more people are discovering the enjoyment of fishing at an Alabama State Lake. Get hooked on fishing! It's an outdoor sport that practically everyone can enjoy. Pick a place, pick a day, and enjoy the experience!

Just a reminder to the Deer Management Program cooperators -- March 31 is the deadline for all DMP applications and data.