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.

Gray Mosley caught this black crappieIn 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. 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.

For more information on the Tombigbee River on Demopolis Lake and upstream, please contact the District III Fisheries Office. For more information on the Tombigbee River upstream of the Alabama River to Demopolis Lock and Dam, please contact the District V Fisheries Office.