Fish and Fishing in the Tombigbee River
In Alabama, the Tombigbee River flows from the Fall Line Hill region of west Alabama to the lower Coastal Plain. Impounded for the creation of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, barge traffic and recreational boats are now able to move all the way from the Tennessee River to the Port of Mobile. The impoundments from Aliceville Lake downstream to Coffeeville Lake provide excellent fishing for many sought after sport fish species such as catfish, largemouth bass, crappie and bream.
In Alabama, the Tombigbee River begins in Aliceville Lake on the Mississippi-Alabama border. The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway then flows across western Alabama in a highly meandering course, through Gainesville Lake and Lake Demopolis, where it is joined from the northeast by the Black Warrior River. South of Demopolis, the Tombigbee River flows generally south across southwestern Alabama through Coffeeville Lake.
From Coffeeville Lake to Jackson, Alabama, the Tombigbee River is free flowing. Below Jackson, the Tombigbee River joins the Alabama River on the Mobile-Baldwin county line to form the Mobile River, approximately 30 mi (48 km) north of Mobile. The lower Tombigbee River has a 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 under "A-Z Contents" and looking for "Fish Consumption Advisories." Three boat ramps service the Tombigbee River from Coffeeville Lake to the Mobile River: Jackson City Ramp, McIntosh Bluff Landing, and Old Lock #1.
Before the Tombigbee River was dammed, dredged and straightened as part of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, a total of fifty freshwater mussel species occurred there, including three species known from nowhere else. But, straightening and dredging caused banks to destabilize and fill the channel with silt and dams created reservoirs where shoals once were. Change of the river from a meandering, free-flowing system with a sand and gravel bottom to this series of reservoirs and channels decimated the mussel community in the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. Few reaches of the river hold significant mussel populations today, and the three species that occurred only in the Tombigbee River are believed to be extinct. But in the few areas where mussels remain, densities can be high. Some mussels in the Tombigbee River are commercially valuable, though the Tombigbee River generally contributes an insignificant portion of the annual commercial harvest.
Fishing license information may be found at: Licenses. Instant licensing is available via Internet (2% fee) or telephone 1-888-848-6887 ($3.95 fee). Fishing licenses may also be purchased at local bait and tackle stores and county probate offices. Youth age 15 and younger fish for free. Alabama residents age 65 or older are not required to purchase a fishing license.
Possession and creel limits for Alabama public waters are listed at: Creel Limits
The US Geological Survey gives water discharge estimates and gage heights.
The Alabama Water Watch has published a report on this water.
The Fisheries Section's District III Supervisor can answer specific questions about Tombigee River fisheries in Demopolis Lake and upstream by sending email to: Jay Haffner. Questions about the fisheries on the Tombigbee River upstream of the Alabama River to Demopolis Lock and Dam may be directed to the District V Supervisor, Dave Armstrong.
A fish consumption advisory has been issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health for sections of the Tombigbee River and some tributaries. Information on the consumption advisories 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."
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