Written By: Elisa Johnson

It’s tee time in Tuscaloosa. The greens are at peak emerald, the trees have leafed out into the perfect pools of shade along the fairways, and it’s warm enough to appreciate a crisp sip of a cold beverage while someone else takes a swing. 

Grab your three best friends for three or four days of laid back fun in Tee-Town. The variety of courses (for golf and meals) and the easy flow of summer, set the right atmosphere for your golf getaway. Book your stay in one of our many hotels that lets you make the most of your evenings too.

Arrival Day

4:00 P.M. 

After you’ve checked into your lodgings in the afternoon, there’s still time to make it to The Dells Golf Club ($$) for a twilight round. This semi-private course is a great one to break in your stride and kick off the fun you and your friends are ready for. 

7:30 P.M. 

On your way back into town, stop at Jalapeño’s Mexican Grill for a local treat and let the loser buy a pitcher of margaritas for the party. Not too many though – you need to tuck in early for tomorrow morning’s tee time. 

Day 2

6:30 A.M.

Up and at ‘em! You’ll want to grab an old-fashioned breakfast at The Historic Waysider Restaurant before your 7:30 a.m. tee time at Tall Pines Golf Club ($). Tucked away in Tuscaloosa’s older Woodland Forrest neighborhood, the semi-private club offers recently resurfaced greens that are perfect for the morning.

Noon

While you’re in this area of town, swing by the OG Dreamland Bar-B-Que location for lunch. Built in 1958 by founder John “Big Daddy” Bishop himself, the original location has the experience as it was meant to be. 

Now that you’re fueled up on sweet tea and banana pudding, let’s go!

2:00 P.M.

Indian Hills Country Club ($$$) is a member-only course in the heart of Tuscaloosa. Recently redesigned with the thinking golfer in mind, it may be worth your while to tour this one for membership. 

If that’s not your speed, let’s proceed on to Ol’ Colony Golf Complex ($$) operated by Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority. This champion of a course is rated in Alabama’s top ten by GolfWeek and includes a driving range to work on that swing. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. 

7:00 P.M.

You’ve spent all day on the turf; it’s time to enjoy some surf. Head to River or Chuck’s Fish for an enticing fish entrée and delightful selection of drinks. Or if you’re hankering for something else, downtown’s assortment of restaurants offers something for everyone. 

Day 3

8:00-10:00 A.M.

After playing all day yesterday, you deserve a morning of leisure. Enjoy your comfortable hotel room before joining the gang for breakfast. Babes Donut Co. and Just Love Coffee are delicious options within an easy stroll downtown. It’s a great morning to visit a museum, walk around The University of Alabama campus, or enjoy the Riverwalk

10:30 A.M.

The Links at Tuscaloosa ($) lies in the southeast corner of the city. Belonging to the Lindsey Golf Network, this serene course offers rolling greens along Mimosa Lake, a driving range, and a pro shop. 

2:00 P.M.

Time for a late lunch or grab a snack and drop off your equipment. You might even want to take this time for a little nap, because for our last night, we’re really going to have fun…

6:00-11:00 P.M.

It’s a good time for all! You and the gang better be ready for some friendly wagers and a night of laughs as you take on Tuscaloosa’s newest golf venture, PopStroke ($-$$). With two miniature golf courses, a full-service menu, and green delivery, this is all you need for a last hurrah before leaving town tomorrow. 

Day 4

8:00 A.M.

After a late night out and a drive home ahead of you today, start the day at Big Bad Breakfast for a bounty of Southern favorites and coffee. 

9:30 A.M.

If you’re a Troon Privé member and have one more game of golf left in you, then we saved the best for last. Check out early and head to the private NorthRiver Yacht Club ($$$). This premiere location is the only course on Lake Tuscaloosa, offering manicured greens, professional services and an elite experience.

Thank you to our partners at the Bryant Conference Center for sponsoring this content!

Tuscaloosa is rolling into a season of change as new Alabama Football Coach Kalen DeBoer prepares to make his Crimson Tide coaching debut in the annual spring A-Day game on April 13, 2024. DeBoer has big shoes to fill after legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban announced his retirement following a dominant 16 season career at the Capstone. Tide fans from across the country are expected to flock to the Druid City for the most highly anticipated A-Day game since Saban’s first in 2007.

So, if you’re one of those people coming into town, we have a lot more “new” for you to experience while you’re here! Here are five new things to do in Title Town since last year’s spring game:

Cocktail Collection: If you roll into town Friday evening before the game on Saturday, chances are you might need a drink after your travel day… and do we have a treat for you! Cocktail Collection is a new speakeasy that opened along University Boulevard in late 2023. The upbeat lounge hides behind a vintage Pepsi door! This is where guests put in a code provided via social media to gain entrance into the speakeasy. Cocktail Collection offers a casual outdoor atmosphere as well as swanky, leather couch indoor seating. Appetizers are also offered alongside the craft cocktails! Find them on Instagram at @cocktail_collection_tcl .

Ben’s Bread: There’s no doubt you’ll need a hearty breakfast to get you ready for the big game! We’re sending you to Ben’s Bread! While his delectable breads and treats are not new to our area, Ben Rosairo recently opened a brick-and-mortar location at 3510 Loop Rd in Tuscaloosa. He and his family moved to Tuscaloosa in 2016 from England. West Alabamians have been picking up their favorite baked goods from Rosairo at the weekly Tuscaloosa Farmers Market for years, but now he’s excited to have a storefront where customers can come to enjoy his creations! Ben’s naturally leavened sourdough breads, bagels, croissants and donuts have never tasted better than they do from the patio of his new location. Follow him at @bensbreadtuscaloosa .

Zaria: If you’re looking for just the right A-Day ensemble, check out Tuscaloosa’s newest boutique, Zaria. Tucked away just across from Government Plaza in the heart of Downtown Tuscaloosa, Zaria offers clothing, accessories, and footwear. They just opened in March of 2024! Owner Mira Milburn says she created her boutique with inspiration from Zaria, the Slavic goddess of beauty usually represented as a triad of goddesses: dawn, mid-day and dusk. The Zaria team will help you create transitional looks, so you feel confident from morning to night. Follow them on Instagram at @shopxzaria .

Popstroke: We hope you’re not “sportsed” out after the A-Day game, because our next new stop is definitely above par. The Tiger Woods-backed concept merges miniature golf, technology and casual dining into a fun-filled experience for the entire family. You’ll find an expansive variety of craft beer, wine, ice cream, and food to enjoy on or off the courses. PopStroke infuses technology within the golf experience to create an interactive and competitive atmosphere for all participants. Unique to PopStroke is the PopStroke App and jumbotron leaderboard. Each guest keeps a PopStroke TaylorMade commemorative ball with their round of golf. Follow them on Instagram at @popstroke .
           

Big Bad Breakfast:  To fuel up for your trip home, you’re gonna’ need to start your day off strong with a good breakfast! Here’s where one of our newest restaurants enters the chat. Big Bad Breakfast lives up to its name. Located at 520 19TH Ave in downtown Tuscaloosa, their meals are BIG and bad—in the best way. BBB, which opened its doors in February of this year, serves up breakfast and lunch classics with their own southern flare! Follow them on Instagram at @tuscaloosa_bigbadbreakfast .

                  While on your way out of town, we hope you’ll reflect on a weekend of good food, new shopping, fun experiences, and football that meets the Alabama standard! Remember, this is just a short list of the many new and wonderful things happening around our community! To keep up with the latest buzz in Tuscaloosa County, follow Visit Tuscaloosa on social media!  Facebook: Visit Tuscaloosa Instagram: @visittuscaloosa TikTok: @visittuscaloosa

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!

If you’re traveling to Tuscaloosa for the Alabama / Chattanooga football game on Saturday, November 18, check out the details in the images below for Alabama Gameday info. For more information, you may also visit uagameday.com.

We hope that you enjoy your stay in Tuscaloosa and encourage you to come back and visit us again!

The ultimate gameday experience in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home to The University of Alabama and the Crimson Tide, offers one of the most electric atmospheres that college football has to offer. Sometimes called “The City of Champions,” Tuscaloosa is a vibrant community filled with local restaurants to satisfy every palate, a walkable downtown complete with live music, outdoor spaces to explore, and a destination that’s easily accessible – no matter what direction you’re coming from.

For a true taste of the game day experience, kick off the weekend with a trip to the Bryant Museum, where you’ll find exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia that traces the long history of The University of Alabama football. Once you’re done taking in the knowledge of Alabama Football’s legendary past, it’s time to enjoy the beautiful campus. From the museum, walk over to the Quad for what will become a tailgating experience you won’t soon forget. Hundreds of tents are filled with friends and family as they join in fellowship, indulge in great food and drinks, and cheer on other football teams across the nation as they await Alabama’s kickoff.

Bryant Museum

Another stop you won’t want to miss is the Walk of Champions and the Coaches Walk, located at the north end of Bryant Denny Stadium. The Walk of Champions includes granite tablets commemorating the school’s title seasons. But what makes it so special on game days takes place two hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff. The Alabama team buses drop the players and coaches off at the walkway where thousands of fans greet them with smiles and roaring cheers to watch some of college football’s most elite walk to the locker room.

After cheering on the Tide, it’s time to experience the energetic nightlife in T-Town. While there are many options to select from, be sure to check out options located along The Strip, Downtown, or in Temerson Square, as well as a variety of other locations throughout the city. Many restaurants and bars feature live music, especially throughout game day weekends.

Downtown Tuscaloosa

Whether you arrived to town early or have time before returning home, consider exploring the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Trail. This self-guided, 18-stop trail includes many stories to help you understand Tuscaloosa’s place in civil rights history, but most importantly, highlights the history of how Tuscaloosa’s color barrier was broken by the courageous efforts of many black and a few white foot soldiers.

When planning your trip, search visittuscaloosa.com for all things Tuscaloosa. We welcome you with open arms and know you’ll make legendary memories to last a lifetime while here. Roll Tide!

A Game Day Must: Don’t miss out on a Denny Dog (aka Stadium Dog). Quite possibly the next best thing outside of the game itself and sold in Bryant Denny!

Photo Credit: Alabama Athletics

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.