A Public Membership Fishing Club near Marion, AL, Perry County
Waypoint: N 32-33.385 W 087-18.656
Membership for 2020 = $1,000
Manager Wilson with his inventions of "beaver proof" bass and crappie structures. Many of these fish magnets were placed in Donavan, Sturdivant and, especially in Lake Roy at Bar-D. Bass Concrete Condos were also put in Donavan and Roy ... watch for metal four metal poles sticking out of the water .... there is a pile of cinder blocks in the middle of these poles. Floating pallets on metal poles were added to these three lakes. Wilson marked these new structures with duck decoys and small buoys. Text or email Manager Wilson and let him know if these new fish structures are producing fish.
Tyler Hudson, grandson of member Dr. David Allgood of Brierfield, with a big bass from Sturdivant Lake.
Caught on a Gay Blade (February, 2018))
Manager Wilson's Judson College bass fishing class... summer 2013.
Club owner, Roy Barnett, with Judson College student, Kaylan Hammonds, on Sturdivant Lake pier. Kaylan is a student in Manager Wilson's bass fishing class. Bass caught on 10" crawdad worm... 7lbs 1 oz. (June, 2015).
Jim Leachman, Montgomery, with big club bass ... notice the huge glide bait that caught this fine fish. Jim caught 10 bass that cold morning... top 5 bass weighted over 32 lbs. 23 Dec. 2018.
Bowfin are in Donavan Lake.... Notice
Trophy Bass - 13 lb 2oz bass caught at Club (25 August, 2012; weighed with digital scales). Rod Bamberg, Marion, caught this lunker and stated, "I have never seen such a huge head on a bass. It was enormous. I was so nervous that I wasn't able to take a picture." This bass is still swimming in the lake. This fish could easily gain a pound by spring, and, with 3 lbs of eggs...a new State record will be waiting on some lucky Club member.
Another trophy bass (below) caught by Rod Bamberg from Club lake... spring of 2016
My records show that this is the 8th bass caught from Club lakes weighing over 12 lbs. The largest weighed 14 lbs 1 oz and it was caught from Lake Ely by Randal Cowart, Bessemer, in 2000. A photo of this bass is on the Club web site (Manager Wilson).
Manager Wilson sets record for largest fish recorded from Club lakes
(6 Jan., 2019 ... see photo below).
The fish ran under the boat... I stood up and put the rod deep into the water... the fight was on. I soon realized it was not a bass. I thought it must be a huge bowfin. "It's a grass carp shouted Rod Banberg from a distant boat. After a long battle Phillip Peek netted the monster and a beautiful but useless White Amur ... Asian Carp ... better known as a grass carp was in the boat. I had snagged the fish in the dorsal fin which allowed the big fish to put up a maximum fight. The weight was an official estimate of 40 pounds and I immediately took it to my friend Tina at the Lotus Garden Restaurant. Tina and family were very excited to get this famous Asian delicacy.
Bass were again chasing shad in the lakes. The challenge with this feeding frenzy is to find a lure that will turn the bass away from shad and onto your plug... another fun day at the Donavan Club. 12 August, 2017: Jim Leachman is a new member (below) who recently moved to Alabama from Washington State... where he fished the Columbia River for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Jim is catching lots of big bass from Club lakes... 3 at 10 lbs and bigger bass have been brought to the tube. Jim fishes out of a tube ... look for Jim and watch a big bass pull him around the lake. The photo below is a selfie taken at sundown.
Here is an email to me from Jim about outstanding fishing at the Club (Sept. 17):
Got another big one today. She weighted 10.58, I did measure her because it was a long fight so I got her back in the water as soon as I could. Got her on a "fire tiger" lipless crank in open water off same pier I got the other 2 from. Blue sky's partly cloudy. Time was around 10:30-11:00. I went to Roy after that and got on a nice crankbait bite, maybe 7 fish or so. BUT at the very end I hooked a fish on that little snag just left of the ramp. To tell you this was the 2nd biggest bass I had ever seen live. The other was in a Bass Pro Shop tank in Las Vegas. I kept her under water for more than a min and she was ripping drag even though I had it as tight as it could be. Then she jumped, pro 3 feet out of water and spit the crank. She had to be almost 30 inch and over 12lb. She jumped right in front of me so I got a great look at her. That is the problem with these small squrebills cranks, hard to keep them buttoned up. My heart just sank when she spit it. Outside of a tank never seen a fish like this in my life. Took few pics of fish from today but they were terrible, hard to take pics of big fish by yourself.
Well I hit Donovan before coming into town. Fished for about 70 mins or so before rushing into town. First time in long time I caught water at a boil. Nothing on squrebills no matter where I threw. Then went to the same lippless that I had hooked my last 25 fish at the lakes. Then it started, fish after fish after fish, all over 4.8 up to 6.8 . Caught 15 before I took a break. When I came back the water was kinda on and off with the boil. But I picked up right where I left off just banging them. Trick was I caught EVERY fish from the same spot, like a 5'square area and if I didnt hit that spot I didnt get bit. Was crazy day. I was up over 35 fish and lost prob another 15. Was so tired I decided to quit, losing fish after working them all the way to the dock and have them come off was a lot of work. Here is a pic of what was a very nice lure before I started and the reason I was losing fish. And had no more baits like this one and they would bite anything else. Show original message
Improvements for 2016: We are using Davis Fish Farms of Leesburg, AL, for all of our bass, bream catfish and shad stockings. We buy our pond fertilizer, Fish Pro Max, from Davis Fish Farms..A big load of adult Northern Largemouth Bass was added to Snag Lake on 13 January (photos below). A load of adult Northern Largemouth Bass was added to Swamp Lake on 23 of March.
1,000 ten inch long channel catfish and a load of Coppernose Bream were added to Lake Emma Lou on 13 January.
Threadfin Shad were added to lakes Snag, Swamp and Gayle in early April of 2016.
250,000 Golden Shiner fry were added to Snag Lake and to Swamp Lake in April of 2016 as was done in Donavan Lake a few years ago.
We continue our pond fertilizer program (Davis Fish Farm - Fish Pro Max, 10-52-4).
We have constructed a casting bank spot on the dam between lakes Roy and Ely ... April of 2016. This will allow bank fishing above the pipe opening that drains Lake Roy into Lake Ely. The water can really churn at this spot during a period of rain. A large tree was dropped into the water near this casting spot (see photo below).
Adult Northern Largemouth bass were stocked in Sturdivant lake in the winter of 2012. We stocked adult Northern Bass in Lake Roy in February, 2019. Lake Roy is "Catch and Release all Bass" till October, 2020.
The Donavan Club uses Davis Fish Farms, Leesburg, AL., for the stocking of all fish in our lakes.
Steve Crawford (above), Marion, with another nice bass - 2018.
Dr. Ken Marion with big bass from Snag Lake, 14 March, 2016
View of Lake Gayle (above)showing casting lanes carved from the weeds by Manager Wilson for outstanding topwater fishing, 16 July, 2014.
New Member has big bass luck! Dean Killingworth called me this morning (12 Mar. 14) and told about catching 20 to 25 nice bass each of the past two trips to Club lakes... "We caught big bass... over 10 lbs. They were chasing shad in shallow water. Then we fished big worms and caught more big bass. Really great fishing. I hope members are following the rules... releasing bass over 3 lbs so that we all can have good fishing at the Club for years to come."
Tom Barronton caught this 6 lb bass with a spinnerbait on 23 March, 2013.The bass had been on beds for a week and a cold front hit with a cold rain. The bass moved off of the beds and resumed feeding. Mike Hoke and Tom hit it just right. They put together a 5 bass limit of 30 lbs. Again, this demonstrates the combination
of good fishermen, good weather conditions, and good luck. Happy fishing...tw
Ken Barton (right) caught this huge bass from a club lake in the summer of 2015.
The drought of 2016 let us see the bream beds in Snag Lake...
built on the pea gravel that was added when the lake was constructed.
Crappie Alert: Crappie are bad for bass and bream lakes. They feed on fish eggs and on young fish like a pack of wolves. The first crappie caught from any club lake was caught from Lake Donavan in 2011. We now have slab crappie in Donavan and Snag lakes. If we have them we might as well enjoy them. Keep all crappie that you catch! Do not put any crappie back into the water...keep all small and all large crappie. Keep all the crappie that you catch...no limit on crappie.
Please report any crappie caught in any club lake to Manager Wilson. thank you and good fishing. tw
Thomas H. Wilson, Manager
Chris Ryan of Birmingham caught this bass from a club lake in mid-March, 2012. See more bass caught by Chris in the Donavan Photos link.
Manager Wilson teaches bass fishing each summer to Judson College students. Rebecca Reams and Rachel Walker were ourstanding fishing ladies and they love to fish (Wilson retired from Judson in August, 2018 ... so, no more fishing classes)..
All Club lakes were designed, stocked, and are managed by Thomas Wilson. All 17 piers were designed and constructed by Thomas Wilson.
All Donavan Lakes are stocked with Tiger Bass from American Sport Fish Hatchery.
Bar-D lakes are stocked with the "Marion" strain of the Largemouth Bass...a cross between the Northern and Florida subspecies (created by Jack Snow at the Marion Hatchery in 1960).
All Club lakes are stocked with Threadfin Shad, Golden Shiners, and fat head minnows. Roy, and Gayle also have Gizzard Shad.
As of 11 April, 2020 we have 92 members in the Club.
I will routinely update the membership number for the Club.
Bass and Bream Limits per Day: 5 bass per Club member per day, or, 8 bass per party (Club member + family and one guest). Inn renters make keep 5 bass per renter, or, a total of 12 bass a day for a party of more that 2 Inn fishermen). 25 bream per day per member; 50 total per party per day.
Shad and Shinners for 2014
Shad added to Sturdivant, Snag and Swamp: We added a load of Threadfin Shad to Snag, Swamp and Sturdivant lakes in April of this year just as we did in 2012. This makes a total of 40,000 threadfin shad added to these two lakes in the past two years.
Danial Davis of Davis Fish Farms in Leesburg, Alabama, stocked 320 lbs of Missouri Northern Largemouth Bass into Sturdivant Lake on 17 February, 2012. In March, Daniel stocked 10,000 Threadfin Shad into each of the following lakes: Sturdivant, Swamp, and Snag. Northern Bass are aggressive and much easier to catch than the Tiger bass stocked in all other Donavan Lakes (not Bar-D Lakes).
Rod Bamberg of Marion caught this 9 lb bass in May, 2013 (left) and another trophy (right) in March of 14. Rod has the Club record at 13 1/2 lb.
Donavan Lakes Fishing Club and Inn is featured in the new State web site, www.alabamablackbeltadventures.com, promoting outdoor sports and recreation on the Black Belt.
Hudson Wilson, grandson of Manager Wilson, worked hard adding piles of trees to Sturdivant Lake. Hudson worked in the rain and wind but we now have about 15 "fish magnets" in Sturdivant Lake. Hudson joined the Marines last week and he leaves in about a month for boot camp. Thanks for helping grandaddy Hudson.
Greg and Jessie Holifield loading a large tree to be added to Lake Gayle for sturcture. We added seven piles of trees in Lake Gayle on a rainy day in July, 2014. The piles of trees are marked with small bouys. One pile is not marked... see if you can find it!
Piles of trees were added to Donavan Lake on 26 July, 2014. Rod Bamberg fished these new bass habitats the next morning and caught nice bass...lost one monster from the sunken trees. I watched small bass feeding in several of the piles of trees. We will add more trees and a few more piles of trees to Donavan within a week. Look for the small bouy markers. Manager Wilson
Important Rule! Release
all big bass. That means DO Not keep trophy bass. Put that 8 lb bass back into
the water; put that 10 lb bass back into the water; put that 14 lb bass back
into the water. Only join this club if you will follow this rule! Manager
Jay Hafner, State District Fisheries Biologist, and Manager Wilson sampled the Club lakes
to determine fish population dynamics (21 Sept. 2011). The sein sample from Donavan Lake was tremendous...large numbers of Threadfin Shad, Golden Shiners, all classes of bream and some small bass. (above photo from July 2010 survey of Donavan Lake)
"Donavan Lake is a Throughbred Lake...not a pony...but, a big league fishery," stated Jay to me after third seining effort. "Let the water level drop in this lake for the rest of the year. This will force forage fish into open water and the bass will have a banquet... bass will get really huge," continued Jay.
Notice the large number of mature Golden Shiners and all classes of bream!
Select Donavan Photos (left column) for photos and story.
Manager Wilson teaches bass fishing to Judson College students each summer. These students are good fishermen and they caught bass from the club lakes that weighted up to 10 lbs. Wilson retired from teaching in August, 2018.
Susan Moore caught this big bass from Donavan Lake in May of 2012. Susan is a student in Manager Wilson's bass fishing class at Judson College. This is the first bass Susan ever caught! She was using an 8 inch purple worm and a 1/8 oz. slip sinker. The students caught lots of big bass from Club lakes during the summer bass fishing course.
Rebecca Ream caught this big bass ( about 10 lbs; May, 2012) on a bass fishing class trip with Dr. Wilson to the Donavan Lakes Fishing club. This bass might be a little bit bigger that the one Susan Moore caught in the same lake a week earlier. "Judson girls can catch bass," Dr. Thomas Wilson (class instructor and Club Manager).
Tom Barronton, Montevallo, with another big bass - Dec. 18.
Johnny Cox of Saraland, Al, caught this big bream in a Bar-D lake in May, 2017. Ben Smith, Mountian Brook, with his first Club bass ... caught on his first fishing trip.
Dave Pinch & Jerry King from Surrey, England - April 2010
Englishmen visit the Donavan Inn and Club
Want to see some big bass photos? Then click on Donavan Photos (link to the left)
John Heard, Marion, knows how to beat the heat and to catch bass from Club lakes. John is fishing the cooler water that is being pumped into a lake. John saw bass chasing shad in the cooler water and he joined the fun.(July 2010). Additional photo of John Heard.
""I am extremely impressed with your management of these properties... some of the best habitat that I have ever fished and I have been tournament fishing all over the USA for 30 years. In Alabama, I have fished Levelwood, Sweetapple, and Old Spring resort lakes and I had rather fish the Donavan Lakes." John Nolan (new member, 08). See John's bass and read about his fishing at the Club.
DR. WILSON WE WACKED EM SUNDAY, --- WE CAUGHT 40+ NO GIANTS ( LIKE STEPHEN AND LIZ) BUT THE BITE WAS FANTASTIC! WE HAD A BEST FIVE EACH OVER THIRTY LBS. WITH SEVERAL 7S AND A BEST FISH OF 8+. FINALLY FIGURED OUT THE DEEP STUFF AT DONAVAN. THANKS FOR A GREAT PLACE TO SPEND QUALITY TIME AND RECOUPE FROM THE REAL WORLD. JOHN P.S. THANKS STEPHEN AND LIZ FOR THE HELP! John Nolan, Oct. 08
Note: Stephen joined the Club in Feburary, 08. He often fishes with girldfriend, Liz Lassiter. See this bass fishing dueo's trophies on Donavan Photos page. Stephan and Liz are now married and they will fish the Club lakes in July, 2012. I will post photos of their bass with a report of their fishing trips.. TW
See Stephen and Liz catch big bass from Club lakes on their U-Tube site....russeo48 Most every one of Stephen's U-Tube videos are from the Donavan Club... awesome stuff!
*See photos of big bass recently caught (summer 09) by Stephen and Liz in the Donavan Photos link at the upper left margin.
Hudson Wilson, Manager Wilson's grandson, caught this 9 lb bass
from a Donavan lake (07).
Charles Ingram of Fishing University TV Show filiming a recent program
at the Donavan Club (Oct. 23, 2010) - TV images
Google Earth photo of Donavan Lakes Club
Google Earth Photo of the Bar-D lakes
Club News, Rules, Water Conditions
and Lost & Found
Eastern Lesser Siren salamanders are in the Donavan Lakes. Read all about it...see images.
Gizzard Shad added to Lake Roy in May, 2007
Cast nets are not allowed on Club property!
Release all Bass over 3 lbs.
Do Not put bass over three pounds on stringers or in livewells!
Bed Fishing for Bass is not allowed
in any club lake!
No live bait fishing for bass in any club lake!
Lure fishing for bass only! starting 1 Jan. 2011
Judson College art students and their instructor, Ted Whisenhunt, made and installed the art sticks that decorate lakes Donavan and Sturdivant. See Donavan Photos link for more images (summer, 09).
The George Hinkle Story...Champion of Big Bass at Donavan Lakes Fishing Club!
Rodney Smith tells his big bass secrets...don't miss this one!
Location: Donavan Lakes Fishing Club includes the original four lakes (1994) of the Bar-D Fishing Club and the five lakes of the new (2002) Donavan Club. Donavan Lakes Fishing Club is located on Perry County 38 (four miles south of Marion on Hy 45; take Perry County 38 west for one mile; Donavan Club sign and gate on the right). Or, if traveling on State Hy 5, go six miles south of Marion and take Perry County 38 east for 2.1 miles; Club sign and gate will be on the left.
Sturdivant Farm (home of Donavan lakes) is a working hay farm and cattle ranch. Over 1,000 acres including lakes, swamps, woods, pasture, trails and creeks are available to members.
Max Campbell with nice bass from Ely pier, July, 2013.
Kip Tullos, Birmingham member, ... two nephews from Wisconsin with a nice Club bass caught by Tyler (June, 2016).
Two lakes at the Donavan Club opened for fishing on 1 June, 2003. Snag and Swamp lakes are each close to 20 acres and they are full of heavy structure...definately Spider Wire lakes. Lake Inez is six acres and is well designed for bass fishing with islands, channels, ditches, pea gravel bedding areas and numerous large felled trees.
Lake Inez lost all of its water during the drought of 2006. The lake is now full, has been restocked, and opened for catch-and-release fishing 1 Jan. 2009.
Sturdivant Lake is stocked with a combination of Florida and F1 hybrid Tiger Bass. This lake is stocked with coppernose bream (85%) and shellcrackers (15%). Fathead minnows and threadfin shad were stocked in this lake. Gizzard shad are in this lake and should help the bass grow exceptionally large in a few years. Catfish weighing up to 20 pounds are in Sturdivant Lake by accident...we thought we had removed all of the catfish.
Vincent Thornton, Tuscaloosa, caught a 14 lb bass from Lake Gayle in February, 2003. Tina Russell from Heiberger, Alabama, caught a 13 1/2 lb bass from the Lake Ely pier in May of 2001. These two Bar-D lakes continue to produce huge fish.
People who camp at the Club are doing so at their own risk. We are not responsible for damage done to camping vehicles. You need to see the camping areas before coming to camp. This is a prairie...the land can be a soggy mess during the winter and after a big rain.
Popup campers and tent camping are allowed anywhere reasonable at the Bar-D club. Popup campers and tent camping at the Donavan Club are allowed only on the back property near lakes Snag, Swamp and Inez.
Do Not leave your camper on Club property...take it home with you! You may camp for 7 straight days then you must remove the camper from our property. You may camp after 14 days have passed.
Membership in Donavan Lakes Fishing Club
Credit Card Payments: We will take credit cards for the fishing club and for the Donavan Inn. All Fishing Club credit card transactions are to be done with Manager Wilson. All dues are to be paid to Manager Wilson.
Two new and exciting Donavan Club lakes (Snag, & Swamp) opened for fishing on 1 June, 2003. Lake Inez Inez lost all of its water in the drought of 2006. Lake Inez has been drained and is now part of the Wetlands for Wildlife Program ... an effort to help migratory waterfowl (Nov. 2010).
Thomas H. Wilson, Manager
1714 Prier Drive
Marion, AL 36756
Waypoint: N 32-36.664 W 087-20.056