The first phase of a study to determine the potential of otter trawls as commercial fishing gear in the warmwater reservoir was investigated. The research was conducted on Wheeler Reservoir, Alabama, during September, October and December, 1967. Two 37-foot and two 45-foot otter trawls constructed from three designs were investigated utilizing a systematic sampling schedule in which direction, speed and duration of tow, and length of warp were randomly selected. Two areas of Wheeler Reservoir, an expanse of open water in the main body and two smaller areas in the Elk River arm, were designated as study sites and were sampled at all hours of the day. A total of 232 tows which harvested 5259 pounds of fish were made with the research vessel DAKWA. Of this catch, 237 pounds or 4.5 percent were classified as game fish. The commercial catch was comprised primarily of gizzard and threadfin shad. The 37-foot, semi-balloon trawl was the most efficient during the investigation. The greatest deviation in catch resulted from tows made in the two different areas of the reservoir. Although other variables, such as time of day and duration of tow appeared to have an influence on catch, these were minor when compared to the influence of the distribution patterns of the fish. It was concluded that an otter trawl fishery would be feasible only when large concentrations of fish could be found in or attracted to areas that were physically suited for trawling.