Five Things to Love About This City
Article Credit: REDFIN, Ana de Guzman
Published December 20, 2023

1. University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa is widely recognized as home to the University of Alabama, a prestigious institution with a rich history and academic excellence. As one of the largest universities in the state, it is a successful college football program in the country. The university’s influence extends beyond academics and athletics, shaping the city’s cultural fabric and contributing to its vibrant and spirited community.

BASH Fitness founder, Beth Allen, shares how the University of Alabama “is a friendly campus where smiles and ‘hellos’ are abundant.” She adds how during a university football game, the stadium becomes “electric and inspiring.”

2. College football

College football holds a special place in Tuscaloosa’s identity, with the city known for the powerhouse football program of the University of Alabama. The genuine enthusiasm and support of the local community and the team’s success have turned game days at Bryant-Denny Stadium into iconic events. College football in Tuscaloosa is not just a sport; it’s a cultural phenomenon that fosters a sense of unity, pride, and spirited celebration throughout the city.

3. Mercedes-Benz U.S. International

Tuscaloosa is home to the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International manufacturing plant, a cornerstone of the city’s economic landscape. This major automotive facility plays a crucial role in producing a variety of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, contributing to the local job market and elevating Tuscaloosa’s profile as a hub for automotive manufacturing. The presence of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International underscores the city’s significance in the automotive industry.

4. Water-focused recreational activities

Among several water-focused recreational activities, the city is most commonly known for Lake Tuscaloosa, which enhances Tuscaloosa’s allure with its scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. Near the city, the lake provides a serene escape for residents and visitors alike, offering a picturesque setting for boating, fishing, and water-related activities. Its tranquil waters and surrounding natural landscapes contribute to the city’s appeal, providing a peaceful retreat and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Kelsey Rush, president and CEO of the travel website Visit Tuscaloosa, shares how, in addition to Lake Tuscaloosa, the area boasts many other water-focused recreational activities such as Lake Lurleen State Park, Lake Nicol, Harris Lake, Hurricane Creek Park, and the Black Warrior River. She adds that they “offer fantastic fishing, paddling, boating, kayaking, birding, hiking trails and more.”

5. Music scene

Tuscaloosa’s music scene adds a eclectic dimension to the city’s cultural landscape. Boasting various venues that showcase local and regional talent, the city resonates with live performances, creating a dynamic atmosphere for music enthusiasts. Whether enjoying performances at intimate local bars or larger music venues, residents and visitors find Tuscaloosa’s music scene a lively and diverse tapestry that enhances the city’s cultural vibrancy.

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A Nick Saban-Inspired Itinerary Filled with Things to do in Tuscaloosa

You know what they say… “All good things must come to an end.” And while we’re excited about this new era of welcoming Coach Kalen DeBoer to Tuscaloosa and to the Crimson Tide family, we can’t help but be a little in our feels about Coach Nick Sabans retirement. So, what better way to pay a Tuscaloosa tribute to the GOAT than a Saban-themed trip to the town he and Ms. Terry have called home for 17 years?

Whether you’re local or coming in from out of town, this lineup is built for champions!

Since we’re celebrating the Saban’s, it’s only right we remind you of the option to stay at the hotel they have ownership in. Built in 2022, The Alamite is filled with elevated Crimson Tide touches.

Once you check in and settle into one of the 112 boutique guest rooms, you don’t even have to leave the property for dinner. The Alamite boasts two incredible restaurants guaranteed to please any palette.

If you’re feeling more of a casual, laid-back atmosphere we recommend hopping on the elevator to the rooftop bar Roll Call. You’ll find a thoughtfully curated menu of seasonal shareables and entrees. They often have live music you can enjoy while looking out over the Downtown Tuscaloosa skyline or towards the lights of Bryant Denny Stadium.

If you’re leaning toward a formal dining experience, you’ll love the Alamite’s house restaurant Forte Cuts and Cocktails. Forte seamlessly marries the charm of classic old-world European cuisine with the sophistication of a modern setting. Step into a world where timeless flavors meet contemporary elegance.

For music lovers, the newly renamed Mercedes – Benz Amphitheater doesn’t have a bad seat in the house. Shows are still being announced for the 2024 season. The music venue seats 7,470 along the Black Warrior River right next to the future location of The Saban Center, a first of its kind STEAM hub for education training, arts participation and academic support for teachers and families, opening in 2026.

If you’re an early riser like coach and want to start your process in the morning, we’ve got a breakfast spot that has never lost.

Opened in 1951, The Waysider is one of the oldest continuously operating restaurants in all of west Alabama. You’ll need to bring your appetite and your patience to this local favorite. Crowds are known to gather early for the generous portions of hearty breakfast classics. If these walls could talk, they’d have quite some tales of Tuscaloosa. Another legendary Alabama football coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant, was known to dine on his favorite menu item, country ham, regularly at a particular table tucked away by the door.

Once your bellies are full, you might want to walk off some of that delicious breakfast with a stroll along the Walk of Champions outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. There are several social media worthy photo opportunities here. You’ll definitely want your picture made with the 2,000-pound bronze statue of Nick Saban along the Coaches Walk. This is the site where students and fans brought tokens of their appreciation in the days following his retirement announcement.

The University of Alabama hosts student-guided stadium tours most days at 11:00 a.m. For $25.00 per person, you can get a first-hand look at the game day experience from the perspectives of coaches and players.

To truly understand Alabama Football, you’ll need to go back in time to long before Nick Saban stepped on campus. Paul “Bear” Bryant coached at The Capstone from 1958-1982. He is considered by many, including Coach Saban, to be one of the greatest football coaches of all time. To celebrate his legacy, The University of Alabama houses the Paul W. Bryant Museum, complete with six exhibits that highlight the university’s sports successes. Bryant won a record 323 career games and six national championships. 

By this point, you’ll probably have worked your appetite back up. Don’t worry, we’re not sending you far. Located in the shadows of Bryant- Denny Stadium, sits one of the most iconic restaurants in Title Town. If a Crimson Tide football museum and a classic diner had a baby, it would be Rama Jama’s. Alabama sports memorabilia hangs, sits and stands on every wall, ceiling and surface in sight. You’ll walk away from this place with not only a fantastic meal, but also more knowledge of one of the most storied sports programs in the country. You might have to play a little defense depending on the crowd, but the food and experience is well worth the wait. We recommend having the National Championship BLT. It has 18 strips of bacon on it, one for each Crimson Tide national title.

While you’re close by, you might as well hit up another UA staple if you’re up for a boozy beverage. Just down a stretch of campus known as “The Strip,” sits a bar famous on its own. Gallettes is home of The Yellowhammer—and we’re not talking about the state bird. This drink is a blend of rum, vodka, amaretto, orange juice and pineapple juice. While it is delicious, we don’t recommend having too many. They’ll sneak up on you… and we’ve got a lot more Saban celebrating to do!

For afternoon activities, we have a few different plays in our playbook.

Coach Saban has been known to spend time with his players off the field and on the water. That’s right…. the GOAT on a boat! Several videos have gone viral of coach captaining his pontoon while relaxing with several of his players on board. Lake Tuscaloosa is the perfect place to tube, waterski, wake board and sight see. No boat? No problem. You can rent vessels from Pier 43 or one of Tuscaloosa’s newest attractions Captain’s Club.

If the water isn’t for you, and perhaps you have little ones with you on your trip, the Sabans thought of that too. During their time in Tuscaloosa, they’ve donated funds through their nonprofit Nick’s Kids Foundation to create two new playgrounds for children of various ages. One is located on the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk, and you can find Mason’s Place, an all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities, at Sokol Park.

If you’re looking to volunteer while you’re in Title Town, here’s a unique way to say you helped the Saban’s build their dynasty, literally. Coach and Ms. Terry have sponsored 20 Habitat for Humanity homes in this community since an EF-4 tornado destroyed much of Tuscaloosa in 2011. Hours after Coach Saban’s retirement announcement, Habitat confirmed the Sabans would sponsor one last home to commemorate the Tide’s latest SEC championship win against the Georgia Bulldogs. This home is known as the LANK House (Let All Naysayers Know). If you’d like to volunteer your time to help with this historic build, you can visit habitattuscaloosa.org/volunteer.

Regardless of how you spend your afternoon in Tuscaloosa, we think you’ll love ending your day on a sweet note. River is a restaurant favorite here locally. Living true to its name, this urban dining experience is located on the beautiful banks of the Black Warrior River. If you really want to tip your hat to Coach Saban, order his all-time favorite treat, the Oatmeal Crème Pie. This delicious dessert is a made from scratch buttercream filling sandwiched between two warm oatmeal cookies. Is your mouth watering yet?

As you can tell, the Saban’s have done a whole lot more for our city than just win a lot of football games. They’ve helped weave the fabric of this community by giving, serving and building a legendary legacy here. Although Coach Saban is stepping off the field, he and his family are continuing to leave their mark on Tuscaloosa.

Thank you to our partners at Townsend Nissan and Townsend Honda for sponsoring this content!

When it comes to Tuscaloosa it’s easy to find things to do no matter the time of year.  Whether it’s attending collegiate athletic events, experiencing a theatrical performance at the Bama Theatre, dancing the night away at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, or spending hours exploring our great outdoors at one of our many parks, lakes, or rivers, our visitors are always welcome with open arms and warm hellos. 

Below you’ll find information (and some discount codes!) for eight events in Tuscaloosa, taking place in 2023.

FIDDLE FEST – THE SOUTHEAST FIDDLE CHAMPIONSHIP

About the Fiddle Fest:  Held annually on the campus of Shelton State Community College, this family-friendly atmosphere celebrates the rich sounds of bluegrass and its talented musicians.  Old-time music and fiddle music have rich histories in West Alabama with many fiddlers such as Dix Hollis, Y.Z. Hamilton, A.K. Callahan, and more connected to the area.  Open to the public to enjoy, contestants will compete for over $7,500 in prize money.  The Fiddle Fest will feature music from Iron Horse and will also offer arts, crafts, and other activities.

Date:  Saturday, February 25, 2023
Website:  https://thefiddlefest.com

VISIT TUSCALOOSA HALF MARATHON & 5K

About the Tuscaloosa Half:  Now in its 11th year, the Visit Tuscaloosa Half Marathon and 5k will offer runners an exciting 13.1- and 3.1-mile course that traverses the streets of T-Town.  Runners will enjoy a sampling of the rolling hills along the Black Warrior River, the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk, portions of The University of Alabama campus (including a great view of Bryant Denny Stadium), and some of the City’s quaint historic downtown neighborhoods.  Sign up today for the largest road race in West Alabama, taking place on Saturday, March 25.

Date:  Saturday, March 25, 2023
Website: https://www.tuscaloosahalf.com
DISCOUNT CODE:  Receive $10 off with the registration code VisitTCL
Code expires Saturday, January 14, 2023

TUSCALOOSA GAUNTLET

About the Tuscaloosa Gauntlet:  Join the Alabama Marines Foundation for their 2nd Annual Tuscaloosa Gauntlet obstacle course race.  The racecourse is just a bit over the 5k distance (3.1 miles) and will feature 20+ obstacles, include a Marine regulation O-Course.  This one-of-a-kind obstacle course race provides every participant a challenge worth celebrating and directly benefits the Alabama Marines Foundation.  Check out this video promotion to learn more and register today!

Date:  Saturday, April 1, 2023
Website:  https://www.tuscaloosagauntlet.com
DISCOUNT CODE:  Receive $10 off with the registration code VisitTCL

DRUID CITY ARTS FESTIVAL (DCAF) PRESENTED BY CADENCE BANK

About DCAF:  What started as a one-day arts festival put together by a group of Alabama students has become a staple in the Tuscaloosa community over the past decade.  DCAF’s goal is to provide a quality arts and music festival, while also educating, engaging, and inspiring both youth and adults about the arts and humanities within the community.  Many undiscovered artists who are now in textbooks, galleries, and museums have exhibited at DCAF over the years.  Guests can expect a free two-day festival with live music, 70+ artists, and delicious local food.

Date:  Friday, March 31 – Saturday, April 1, 2023
Website:  https://www.druidcityartsfestival.com

TUSCALOOSA MAYOR’S CUP 5K FOR PRE-K

About the Mayor’s Cup:  Since 2007, over 1,000 runners, joggers and walkers have joined together each year to support Pre-K in Tuscaloosa through this annual race.  Having raised almost $325,000 to provide resources for preschoolers throughout the Tuscaloosa area, the Mayor’s Cup is a simple and fun way for the entire community to get together and get involved in supporting education.  This 5k course highlights Downtown Tuscaloosa, parts of The University of Alabama including the Walk of Champions, and historic neighborhoods.  

Date:  Saturday, April 29, 2023
Website: http://www.tuscaloosamayorscup.com

WEST ALABAMA FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL

About the West Alabama Food and Wine Festival: Benefiting the West Alabama Food Bank, the West Alabama Food and Wine Festival showcases the community’s best local restaurants with tasting tables that highlight signature dishes. Wine tastings are also provided by local distributors to introduce trendy and season varietals. After such significant growth in attendance over the years, the 2023 festival will now be held in Historic Downtown Northport. This community festival is great for both residents and visitors and is put together by a wonderful group of community volunteers. Tickets can be purchased online.

Date: Sunday, April 30, 2023
Website: https://westalabamafoodandwine.org

KENTUCK FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS

About Kentuck Festival:  Kentuck has a rich 52-year history as a nationally known crossroads of creativity and community.  The two-day festival has its roots in folk art and features 270+ artists, live music, spoken word, activities for children, folk and contemporary craft demonstrations, food trucks, and local craft brews.  This festival has been claimed as one of the “Best of Bama 2022” events by Alabama Magazine and has been featured in publications such as the Smithsonian Magazine, Southern Living, and more!  Located in Downtown Northport, this is a festival that you just don’t want to miss.

Date: Saturday, October 14 – Sunday, October 15, 2023
Website:  https://www.kentuck.org/the-festival

AHSAA SUPER 7 STATE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

About Super 7:  Bringing the best Alabama high school football athletes to Tuscaloosa!  The Alabama High School Athletic Association Super 7 State Football Championships are one of the most exciting and highly anticipated sporting events in the state.  Over the course of three days, the final two teams from each of Alabama’s seven classifications will compete to be crowned as the new state champions, and in 2023 it’s taking place in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Date:  Wednesday, November 29 – Friday, December 1, 2023

Below are additional resources to help you keep up with all of the fun events happening in T-Town.

COMMUNITY ART NIGHTS:

Tuscaloosa and Northport’s art scene continues to grow.  While there are many galleries and events throughout the year, each community is home to a monthly art night featuring artists, live music, local food, and more.

While this is just a highlight of events taking place in 2023, there really is no such thing as a timeout in Tuscaloosa County.  Seated in the heart of West Alabama, the area offers something for sports enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, history buffs, foodies, and for the artists at heart.  Ready to plan your next trip to Tuscaloosa? Request a visitor guide today!

Editor’s Note: Russell Jones of Coker, Alabama, is a USCG Certified Guide on the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa County, as part of the Alabama Guide Service. Tailrace fishing below Bankhead and Holt dams can be outstanding during certain times of the year because you can catch a wide variety of fish at night, as well as during the day. The success of tailrace fishing is dependent on how much current is being generated by the hydroelectric plants, the spillways and/or both. The amount of current and the color of the water in the tailraces will dictate how you should fish, and what lures you should use. You can contact Russell Jones at 205-454-7313; www.alabamaguideservices.com; and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AlabamaGuideService/.

During the summer months, some of the best tailrace fishing will be at night on the Black Warrior River. Fish often hold in the underwater structure in the tailraces, especially bass. Due to this, one of my favorite lures is a Bandit 200 crankbait that I’ll paint solid-black. I’ll reel it very slowly, try to get it down to the bottom and bounce it off the rocks because that time is usually when the bass will attack. The Bandit 200 is a small-profile bait, but it can really be effective at the dams at night, when the current’s not running. I’ll also use the Valiant jig – in brown or watermelon colors – and the shakyhead rig at night around the rock piles that I find with my depth finder.

I must admit that my favorite tailrace to fish is the one at the bottom of Bankhead Dam – also known as Lock 17 – at the head of Holt Lake. However, there are numbers of rock piles in this tailrace that will eat-up the lower unit of your motor. So, never run very fast when you start getting close to the dam. Normally, when I’m fishing the tailrace, I have my big motor kicked-up, so that if my boat hits a rock pile, it will ride over it. I’m also being very cautious with my trolling motor when I’m moving around in this tailrace, to keep from damaging my propeller or the shaft of my motor. I keep my depth finder on to continuously look for different rock piles and bottom structure that I may not have seen before.

If you’re fishing a tailrace at night, LiveScope sonar can be very effective at showing you the rock piles that you may run into in front of the boat or that are present in the slack water in the daytime. However, when the current’s running, and the water’s very turbulent, your LiveScope won’t be nearly as effective as in the slack water or when night fishing with no current. If you’re in the tailrace in the daytime and there’s hardly any current at all but plenty of slack water, a LiveScope can help you locate those underwater rock piles that the bass hold in and behind when the current’s running and mark them as waypoints so you can fish them in the daytime when the current’s running.

Fishing Black Warrior River Tailraces in Tuscaloosa County when the Spillways are Running

Editor’s Note: Russell Jones of Coker, Alabama, is a USCG Certified Guide on the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa County, as part of the Alabama Guide Service. Tailrace fishing below Bankhead and Holt dams can be outstanding during certain times of the year because you can catch a wide variety of fish at night, as well as during the day. The success of tailrace fishing is dependent on how much current is being generated by the hydroelectric plants, the spillways and/or both. The amount of current and the color of the water in the tailraces will dictate how you should fish, and what lures you should use. You can contact Russell Jones at 205-454-7313; www.alabamaguideservices.com; and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AlabamaGuideService/.

When the Warrior River starts to flood upstream of Bankhead Dam, often the spillways will be opened to allow some of that excess water to move downstream. Depending on how many of the spillways are open, this time can be dangerous to fish in the tailrace. However, if you can see slack water and stay there, you’ll catch a good number of fish.

Usually when the spillways are open, the water will be muddy. So, I’ll fish with bright-colored lures. I’ll be using a Rat-L-Trap, a spinner bait, brown – or green-colored Valiant jigs and an Alabama Rig with big white swimbaits on it. Then, I’ll try to cast it out and get it in the current. We’ll still be looking for the same type of fish that hold in the tailrace – spotted and largemouth bass, saltwater striped bass, hybrid striped bass, catfish, white bass, drum, skipjack (hickory shad) and any other fish that have come upriver to feed on the abundance of shad holding and feeding in that swift water.

Another tactic that I may use when there’s a lot of current coming from the spillways and/or the hydroelectric plant is I’ll cast topwater lures in the slack water just off the current. I’ll be using a walking bait like the Zara Spook, a popping bait and a buzzbait. Many times, some of the better-sized fish may be holding on that current seam between the slack water and the current from the dam. When those fish see activity on the surface, they’ll often attack.

Editor’s Note: Russell Jones of Coker, Alabama, is a USCG Certified Guide on the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa County, as part of the Alabama Guide Service. Tailrace fishing below Bankhead and Holt dams can be outstanding during certain times of the year because you can catch a wide variety of fish at night, as well as during the day. The success of tailrace fishing is dependent on how-much current is being generated by the hydroelectric plants, the spillways and/or both. The amount of current and the color of the water in the tailraces will dictate how you should fish, and what lures you should use. You can contact Russell Jones at 205-454-7313; www.alabamaguideservices.com; and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AlabamaGuideService/.

I like a big spinner bait when I fish in the tailrace to see what’s biting, and where the fish are holding. The current will decide what size spinner bait I use – either a 3/4- or a 1/8-ounce spinner bait. When I’m fishing a spinner bait in the tailrace, I don’t use a trailer. Some days I may use a trailer hook, but more than likely, I won’t. I like either a solid-white or a shad-colored spinner bait – like gray and white with sparkles in it. If the water’s muddy, I prefer a chartreuse-colored spinner bait and skirt. The blades on my spinner baits will be silver, double willow-leaf blades – one large and one small. The willow leaf seems to get the spinner bait down faster than the Colorado blade on a spinner bait does. I also like a 7’3” rod and usually will fish the spinner baits on fluorocarbon line – generally 17-20 pound test.

Editor’s Note: Russell Jones of Coker, Alabama, is a USCG Certified Guide on the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa County, as part of the Alabama Guide Service. When fishing on the Black Warrior River, Tailrace fishing below Bankhead and Holt dams can be outstanding during certain times of the year because you can catch a wide variety of fish at night, as well as during the day. The success of tailrace fishing is dependent on how much current is being generated by the hydroelectric plants, the spillways and/or both. The amount of current and the color of the water in the tailraces will dictate how you should fish, and what lures you should use. You can contact Russell Jones at 205-454-7313; www.alabamaguideservices.com; and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AlabamaGuideService/.

The Alabama Rig holds five jig heads with a soft, plastic swimbait attached to each jig head. In Alabama, you can use all five jig heads on your Alabama Rig. However, in other states, you only may be able to use two or three jig heads. I’ll place 1/4-ounce shaky head jigs on each one of the five wires of the Alabama Rig. Some anglers prefer a lighter jig head, but I like the 1/4-ounce to get the rig down quicker to where I think the fish are holding, as well as keeping it off the bottom, by reeling fairly fast. I use either 3.5 NetBait Little Spanky swimbaits on the jig heads or True Bass Hollow Body swimbaits. The True Bass swimbaits are tougher than the Little Spanky ones and somewhat more expensive. When I’m fishing with the Little Spanky ones, I like the bright, pearl-colored bodies. When the river’s water is clear, I like the True Bass colors that resemble a shad better than the Little Spanky ones.

I fish the Alabama Rig on a flipping stick big frog rod that’s either 7’6” or a 7’11” long. I use 50-pound-test braided line. Some people prefer to use a monofilament line, but I’m more comfortable using braided line, like Berkley’s Power Pro braid. The secret to catching fish on the Alabama Rig in the tailrace is to reel it fast enough to keep it from getting hung in the bottom, yet slowly enough to get it down close to the bottom. The first time I start throwing it, I may get hung-up a couple of times, but I usually can pop my line and get the rig off of whatever it’s hung. 

For instance, if I’m fishing a 20-foot bottom, I want the Alabama Rig to be between 15 – 20 feet deep, possibly 18 feet. If I’m fishing in 8-10 feet of water, I try to keep the Alabama Rig in 6-7 feet of water. The Alabama Rig also has blades on it that give the bait a lot of flash. Using this bait, I catch a wide variety of fish. I’ve caught 20-pound catfish, 15–20 pound stripers, hybrid striped bass – often two or three at a time – largemouth bass, spotted bass, drum and skipjacks (hickory shad). However, I’m really targeting spotted bass and have caught three spotted bass on one Alabama Rig before at the same time. The biggest was a 3-pounder, and the other two were 12-14 inches long. I’ve also caught two, 4-pound spotted bass on the same Alabama Rig at the same time.

Fish the Alabama Rig with Swimbaits in the Warrior River Tailraces with Russell Jones

Editor’s Note: Adam Hollingsworth is the president of the University of Alabama Fishing Team and explains, “I went back to college because I spent the first years of my life after high school in the military and as a police officer. I eventually want to be a U.S. Marshal. I currently have a degree in criminology and plan to start my master’s degree at the University of Alabama in the fall of 2022.” 

In the future, the City of Northport, Alabama, while working together with others, is hoping to build a facility where 200 boats can launch and have a bait shop, as well as offer many parking spaces.

Right now, several boat ramps are close together on the lower end of Holt Lake. Rock Quarry Boat Ramp (https://www.recreation.gov/activitypass/4baaca95-f6a4-11ea-ab86-ea94e31cc891) and Rocky Branch Launch (https://www.recreation.gov/activitypass/cb0dde80-f6a4-11ea-bc4c-a2c064eb4d04), that’s larger than Rock Quarry, are only one mile apart. Deerlick Creek Campground (https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/232571) is located in-between these marinas and isn’t as big. When you come out of Rock Quarry Boat Launch you’ll see Eagle Cove Marina (https://marinas.com/view/marina/7ecqx9v_Eagle_Cove_Marina_and_RV_Park_Cottondale_AL_United_States), which is where anglers generally will meet to start a tournament. When you combine the capabilities of all the marinas right now, 100 boats can be launched for a tournament.

One of the best bass-fishing locations as you come out of Rock Quarry Marina and go north toward the Lock 17 Dam, is Red Eye, found on the right-hand bank as you go upriver and only a 10-minute ride. You’ll go past a coal chute where coal is loaded on barges. Generally, barges are parked on the other side of Red Eye. Several sandbars come off of this spot, and one of them is very shallow. On the weekends, many pleasure-boat riders will park there and have a party. I’ve found that the outside edge is a good place to catch fish, and that the sandbar usually produces best when there’s a current coming through the lake. 

Hollingsworth reeling in bass at Holt Reservoir.

Editor’s Note: Adam Hollingsworth is the president of the University of Alabama Fishing Team and explains, “I went back to college because I spent the first years of my life after high school in the military and as a police officer. I eventually want to be a U.S. Marshal. I currently have a degree in criminology and plan to start my master’s degree at the University of Alabama in the fall of 2022. I love to fish for bass.” 

At night when the power plant at the Lock 17 isn’t running, I can catch bass there with either a buzzbait or a spinner bait. Some of the best tournaments in the hot months are held at night when the spillways aren’t running current. Also, you can dodge the heat of the day then, making bass fishing more fun. Most of the night tournaments begin just before dark and continue until after midnight.

My two favorite lures for fishing below Lock 17 at night are the Crusher Pro Buz buzzbait just before dark, and the Crusher Lures Moon Crusher spinner bait after dark. I prefer this spinner bait because the Moon Crusher increases my hook setting ratio. I also like its big thumper blade that triggers more bites when calling bass from long distances with the vibrations it gives off.

The two colors I like are black/hot pink and crushed tequila. I fish the Crusher Lures Moon Crusher on the edges of grass and over logs and other debris. I’ll fish this lure on a 7’ or a 7’3” iROD Lone Star Special in a medium-heavy action with a Lews Tournament Pro 7.5:1 gear ratio reel and PowerPro 20-pound-test braided line. 

Hollingsworth with caught bass.

Editor’s Note: 27-year-old Jalen Conner is a native of Tuscaloosa and has been fishing Tuscaloosa County’s Holt Reservoir for eight years. A criminal justice student at Tuscaloosa’s Stillman College, Conner fishes two bass tournament trails – the S.A.B.A and the Jim Austin.

I’m often asked, “Why aren’t more bass tournaments held on Holt and Oliver reservoirs?” I think many Alabamians don’t even know where Holt or Oliver are located and probably never have read about where we fish, and what lures we use for bassing there. We’re not like Guntersville Lake in North Alabama or Lake Eufaula in Southeast Alabama that have been publicized on TV and in magazines and social media. Holt and Oliver are like hidden gems on the Black Warrior River and are more community lakes that no one, except the community, knows about or fishes. Local anglers know about the great fishing available on the Warrior River in Tuscaloosa County at Holt and Oliver reservoirs. But, they don’t tell anyone else, although some club tournaments are conducted here.

Another reason I believe other tournaments don’t come to this section of the Black Warrior River is because most of our boat ramps are single or double. I realize that big tournaments generally are held in regions with at least five ramps and parking for 200 or more vehicles and trailers. I’d really like to see a fishing facility built here like the ones at Lake Guntersville and Lake Eufaula that bass fishermen could launch more than one or two boats from at a time and offer parking for spectators and participants. 

Conner with caught bass
Conner with caught bass

If I could create a fishing facility for Tuscaloosa County, I’d like a pavilion for contestants to bring their fish in their livewells on their boats to the weigh-in and then be able to drive their boats and vehicles to a parking lot with 200-300 parking spaces for boats and trailers. Also, I’d like to have access to restrooms near the boat launch and/or pavilion. In addition, there needs to be easy access to return the bass back into the water after each bag of fish is weighed. 

I believe that realistically, this dream of mine and other Tuscaloosa County fishermen could come true in the next three or four years. The City of Northport is working to try and find enough available land to build a fishing facility like I’ve described and to work with the appropriate individuals or organizations that help secure the funds to build this type of facility. The facility will be for Tuscaloosa County residents and also attract larger bass-tournament trails to come here, fish in our waters, stay in our hotels and motels, eat some of the finest Southern food anywhere and meet some of the friendliest people in the world. Regardless of whether the actual site is, a fishing facility like this will help all of Tuscaloosa County.

Conner with caught bass
Conner with caught bass

Editor’s Note: Adam Hollingsworth is the president of the University of Alabama Fishing Team and explains, “I went back to college because I spent the first years of my life after high school in the military and as a police officer. I eventually want to be a U.S. Marshal. I currently have a degree in criminology and plan to start my master’s degree at the University of Alabama in the fall of 2022.” 

If you put your boat in at Rock Quarry Boat Ramp and go north, away from Holt Dam, you’ll go around a bend, then on up a straightaway, and at the next opening on the right, that will be Pegasus Creek. You’ll see a point and a shoal at the mouth of the creek. Bass like to stack-up at that point during the summer months. There’s a main channel in this creek and two secondary creeks that feed into Pegasus on the right as you go up the creek. Then, you’ll see that Pegasus opens-up into a big flat. Often, the bass will stack-up in those shallows chasing shad. You can catch bass on that bank. The main part of the channel is about 15-feet deep in the summer, and I’ll primarily fish a Rapala DT-6 or a DT-8 crankbait there. 

Less than a mile from Pegasus Creek, continuing north on the left-hand side of the river, you’ll see plenty of grass that’s a productive place to fish for bass, if the current is running and pushing the bass into the grass there. An underwater stump field is in that grass, and I usually come off-plane, so I won’t hit those stumps. You can fish the grass and the stump row all the way down that grass line for bass. 

Bass in Holt River.

The next-productive spot I like to fish is about 2-miles upstream at Davis Creek – on the right-hand side of the river. I think that Davis Creek may be fed from a cold-water creek because there’s usually a lot of clear water there. If the river’s muddy, you can go into Davis Creek and identify where the muddy water and the clear water start to mix. A small ledge right at the mouth of Davis Creek is where the two, different-colored waters often mix. That’s where I like to cast a crankbait. After I fish that area, I’ll go up into Davis creek and start fishing a swim jig. 

When you come out of Davis Creek and go north, be sure to run your side-scan sonar to learn where old Lock 16 was located. Or, you may be able to find this old dam with your lake map or other up-to-date mapping functions. There are all types of underwater rubble where the dam blew out. You can fish the upcurrent side or the downcurrent side of old Lock 16. I like to fish with a jerkbait there. I’ve also enjoyed some really-good action fishing at night around this underwater dam. 

You can tell when you’re getting close to old Lock 16 because a boat ramp is on your right with a small swimming area. You can see some concrete on the right-hand side above the swimming area that once was a part of the old lock and dam. On the left-hand side is some concrete leftover from the bridge that was once there. The underwater rubble from Lock 16 is about 16- to 25-feet deep that provides an underwater current break where the bass like to hold and ambush baitfish as they come over the top of the underwater dam. I’ve caught spotted bass before in the middle of the dam at old Lock 16 and largemouths on either side of the dam near the bank. 

When you leave old Lock 16 and continue upriver, you’ll see Lock 17. When the power plant at the dam is generating current, that’s when you can fish that current and catch some very-nice spotted bass. 

Adam Hollingsworth with caught bass.

Fishing in Tuscaloosa County

Editor’s Note: 27-year-old Jalen Conner is a native of Tuscaloosa and has been fishing in Tuscaloosa County’s Holt Reservoir for eight years. A criminal justice student at Tuscaloosa’s Stillman College, Conner fishes two tournament trails – the S.A.B.A and the Jim Austin.

I like to fish the lower end of Oliver Lake during football season, when the University of Alabama plays its home games because the water in that section of the Black Warrior River tends to be a little-more stained at that time of the year. When most people are either at Alabama football games or deer hunting here in Alabama, my fishing coach and I can catch spotted bass all day long at Oliver. We may be the only boat on that section of the river at that time of the year.

We like to fish the creek mouths in the Moundville section of the Black Warrior River. When currents coming through Oliver Lake in the fall, bass like to hold in the creek mouths at that time of the year. They’ll be feeding on shad and worms being brought to them by the upriver current. We can consistently catch 2–3-pound spotted bass and often even bigger spotted bass in the fall at Oliver.

Conner holding his spotted bass that he caught. Fishing in Tuscaloosa County.
Conner holding his spotted bass that he caught.