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Lake Tuscaloosa

Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division logo

Fish and Fishing in
Lake Tuscaloosa

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Background: Located five miles north of the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport in west central Alabama, Lake Tuscaloosa is a 5,885-acre water supply reservoir with 177 miles of shoreline. The tailwater area (North River) drains into the Black Warrior River basin and is a popular recreational area to many anglers. When the reservoir was impounded by the City of Tuscaloosa in 1971, little material was left behind to serve as fish habitat. Consequently, biologists suspected that the lake would be clear and infertile with relatively low fish production. This has proved to be the case, and water visibilities near the dam often exceed 20 feet. Upper reaches of the lake near Binion and Turkey Creeks are more fertile, have lower water visibilities, and are generally better areas to fish.

The dam at Lake Tuscaloosa by Jerry Moss.
Lake Tuscaloosa Dam

Lake Tuscaloosa was constructed to supply domestic and industrial water for the City of Tuscaloosa. However, the lake has become very popular for various types of recreation including boating, swimming and fishing. There are public and private boat ramps located on the lake, as well as several private marinas. Public launches are located at Binion Creek (State), Rock Quarry and Sharps Landing (Municipal). Detailed maps of Lake Tuscaloosa are available at local marinas and sporting goods stores.

Fishery: The most common sport fish found in Lake Tuscaloosa include the Alabama spotted bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and white crappie. Popular non-game fish include blue catfish, channel catfish, freshwater drum, buffalo and carp. Forage species commonly found in the lake include gizzard shad and threadfin shad and various minnows and shiners.

Overall, the status of the fish population in Lake Tuscaloosa remains unchanged from the 1980s. The fishery continues to be forage limited, and growth of important sport fish species such as black bass and crappie range from below average to average. Anglers that fish the lake frequently complain about low catch rates and the small size of fish. During 2000, bass tournament results ranked Lake Tuscaloosa 11th out of 25 major reservoirs in pounds of bass caught per day. Lake Tuscaloosa was the site of the B.A.S.S. Federation Qualifying Tournament in 2001, which was held out of Binion Creek Access Area.

Sampling: Sampling work in 2003-2004 revealed that the abundance of black bass was similar to what was reported in 1992, while crappie abundance was significantly lower. Condition of bass and crappie was below average, and growth of these popular sport fish was average to below average when compared to other District III reservoirs. The harvestable bass population continues to consist primarily of fish from 2-4 years of age that range from 10 to 15 inches length.

Stocking: The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division has stocked numerous sport fish into Lake Tuscaloosa beginning in 1970, which include largemouth bass, walleye, hybrid striped bass and saltwater striped bass. The Division stopped stocking both hybrids and striped bass in the mid-1980s after fisheries biologists determined that production and recruitment of forage species was very limited.

Fishing: Popular top water baits include jitterbugs and willow-leaf spinning lures, but many anglers prefer the traditional plastic worm or lizard to catch spotted bass off rocky walls or ledges found throughout the lake. Redear sunfish and other sunfish species are abundant, and are often found along weed beds, backwater sloughs and coves.

It is illegal to possess blueback herring Duane Raver's Blueback Herring courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Alabama. Regulations designate legal capture methods for bait and specify additional species that may not be used for bait.

Link List (disclaimer):

Fishing license information may be found at: www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/license/. Instant licensing is available via the Internet (2% fee), via the telephone by calling 1-888-848-6887 ($3.95 fee), or at 900 vendors and probate offices in Alabama. All youth, age 15 and younger, fish for free.

Possession and creel limits for Alabama public waters are listed at: www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/regulations/

Bass fishing quality at Lake Tuscaloosa is assessed here.
Bass fishing reports for Lake Tuscaloosa may be available at: www.wmi.org/bassfish/reports/alabama/.Map of Lake Tuscaloosa.

If you are a member of a bass club, please consider being a part of our Bass Angler Information Team. We use information from clubs to help better manage your lakes for fishing.

Information concerning lodging and recreation near Lake Tuscaloosa is listed for Tuscaloosa County at www.tcvb.org/ and for Birmingham or Jefferson County area at www.birminghamal.org.

Lake Tuscaloosa has fish consumption advisory. Information on the consumption advisory may be found at the Alabama Department of Public Health Web site, www.adph.org. Consumption advisory information is found in "A-Z Contents" under "Fish Consumption Advisories."

It shall be unlawful to intentionally stock or release any fish, mussel, snail, crayfish or their embryos including bait fish into the public waters of Alabama under the jurisdiction of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries as provided in Rule 220-2-.42 except those waters from which it came without the written permission of a designated employee of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources authorized by the Director of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries to issue such permit. The provisions of this rule shall not apply to the incidental release of bait into the water during the normal process of fishing.

The Fisheries Section's District III biologist can answer specific questions about Lake Tuscaloosa at Jay.Haffner@dcnr.alabama.gov.

Prepared by: Fisheries Section, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This site is presented for information only; the Fisheries Section cannot be responsible for the quality of information or services offered through linked sites, disclaimer. To have your site included, send your URL, email address, or telephone number to the Fisheries Web Master, doug.darr@dcnr.alabama.gov. The Fisheries Section reserves the right to select sites based on relevant and appropriate content of interest to our viewers. If you discover errors in the content or links of this page, please contact Doug Darr. Thank you.

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