The season of summer has arrived and for many, it’s a time that brings family and friends together. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, it’s a great time to “live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, and drink in the wild air.” With the summer heat steadily rising, the lakes and rivers remain in high demand.
Outdoor activities can undoubtedly be enjoyed year-round in Tuscaloosa, but there’s just something special about fishing on a sweet summer night. As we recognize National Go Fishing Day today, we are excited to share some of Tuscaloosa’s hidden gems as it relates to recreational fishing. So, bait up those fishing poles and get ready for the inside scoop on fishing in Tuscaloosa!
We recognize that one of the most frustrating parts about fishing is finding an access point, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar area. That’s why we called in an avid fisherman and TTS board member (and hotelier) Toby Wilson to give us all of his pro tips on fishing in and around West Alabama. These are some of his favorite spots to kick back, relax, catch some fish, and enjoy the beautiful views our area has to offer.
Holt Reservoir is a modest 3,296-acre lake on the Black Warrior River and is located just north of Tuscaloosa from the Holt Lock and Dam upstream to Bankhead Dam. To access this more secluded body of water you can go to Lock 15 or Deerlick ramps. This place is for the fishermen that appreciate alone time with quiet waters!
This particular lake along the Black Warrior River begins in Walker County and forms the border between Jefferson and Tuscaloosa County. The quiet, peaceful feel is very similar to that at Holt Lake. In fact, Bankhead eventually empties into it and is the second largest lake on the Black Warrior River. Be prepared for about an hour and a half commute from downtown Tuscaloosa. It’s well worth it though because the fish are plentiful in this secluded area with plenty of creeks and coves.
Of course, we couldn’t leave out one of the most popular summer spots: Lake Tuscaloosa. Renowned in the area for its year-round fishing and boating culture, this lake stretches 5,885 acres in size. The easiest access points for this lake are Binion Creek, Sharpes Landing, and Rock Quarry.
This stretch of the Black Warrior River in downtown Tuscaloosa is spectacular for fishing without having to drive very far. Riverview Boat Landing is a boat launch to access the river. The sky’s the limit with this one. Some additional activities available are boating, hiking, backpacking, climbing, and animal sightseeing!
To access this body of water from Northport the easiest way to do so is to use Oliver Lock and Dam, which is close to the old country club. One way to get there is through Airport Road where the Roll Tide trestle stands. Similar to the other bodies of water, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, catfish, crappies, and so much more are available in this river.
Be sure to watch out for barges, and make sure you have your fishing license! Don’t forget to bring your up to date boat registration as well. No fishing license? No problem. You can get your license by clicking here!
- Holt Lock and Dam: 12397 Power Plant Rd Tuscaloosa 35406
- Old Lock 15 Boat Ramp: North of Tuscaloosa on Holt Lake of the Black Warrior River
- Deerlick Ramp, located within Deerlick Park: 12421 Deerlick Rd, Tuscaloosa, AL
- Bankhead Dam: 19001 Lock 17 Rd N, Northport, AL 35475
- Binion Creek: 16553 Binion Creek Heights, Northport, Al 35475
- Sharpes Landing: 13662-13698 Sharpes Lake Road, Northport, AL 35473
- Rock Quarry: 11857 Eagle Bluff Rd, Cottondale, Al 35453
- Riverview Boat Landing: 599 7th Ave. NE, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
- Oliver Lock and Dam: Oliver Dam Road Northport Al, 35476
Black Warrior River Lock Phone Numbers (For navigation or water-level questions)
- Bankhead Lock (205) 339-1921
- Holt Lock (205) 553-1711
- Oliver Lock (205) 758-4860
For additional resources, we encourage you to check out the Black Warrior Riverkeeper!
It’s finally summertime in Tuscaloosa. This weekend offers a wide range of events for all members of the family. The Tuscaloosa Comedy Group kicks off the weekend on Friday at Wilhagan’s Grill and Taproom. Also, on Friday, musician Casey Thrasher will perform at Rhythm and Brews. Saturday begins with the Farmers Market from 7:00 a.m. to noon. The Tuscaloosa Kids Triathlon starts Saturday morning, and The Great Black Warrior River Paddle-Boat Race is Saturday afternoon. Read more below to learn more about these fun events!
Tuscaloosa Comedy Group
The second annual “Stand up 4 Rachel” comedy fundraiser is set for this Friday, May 17, at Wilhagan’s Grille and Taproom located in Temerson Square. General admission tickets, which provide entry and access to the dinner buffet, are now available for $25 each. A table of four can be reserved for $250, which brings premium reserved seating and dinner for four. The adults-only event also includes a cash bar. A DJ will begin the entertainment at 6:00 p.m., with the comedians starting at 7:00 p.m., and ending around 9:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by contacting organizers at StandUp4Rachel@gmail.com or by calling 205-292-8828. All proceeds will go to the Rachal Williams Foundation for the benefit of the Transverse Myelitis Foundation.
Also, on Friday, May 17, American Idol contestant Casey Thrasher will perform at Rhythm and Brews at 9:00 p.m. Thrasher was on season 13 of the popular show, and made it to the top 15 male category. He has recently co-produced and released a self-titled album, which gives fans a chance to see into his life and show them a little about who he is as a person. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. and Thrasher comes on stage at 9:00 p.m.
The Great Black Warrior River Paddle-Wheel Boat Race
As we celebrate Tuscaloosa’s Bicentennial, the monthly theme for May is Transportation. What better way to honor the role the river has played in our history than with a paddle-wheel boat race? Join us as two great riverboats go head-to-head, or bow-to-bow, between Manderson Landing and the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. The historic Bama Belle, in her first race, takes on the highly decorated Pickett Hastings. The race begins Saturday, May 18 at 3:00 p.m. For those with an adventurous steak, you can purchase a ride on the Bama Belle during the race. Tickets are $20 and provide the best seat in the house. Visit http://www.bamabelle.org/ for tickets.
Tuscaloosa Kids Triathlon
The 7th Annual Tuscaloosa Kids Triathlon will be held this Saturday, May 18at 9:00 a.m. at Lake Lurleen State Park Children ages five to 16 will swim, bike, and run. The triathlon benefits the Secret Meals for Hungry Children. Secret Meals fill in food gaps over the weekend for local. Each Friday, a 3.5-pound food pack is slipped into student backpacks. The pack includes two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners. Bring your family and help promote healthy, active lifestyles for kids while supporting a great cause.
Tuscaloosa Farmers Market
If you haven’t been to the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market yet, you should consider going this Saturday for a day filled with community, unbeatable prices, and one-of-a-kind merchandise. From fresh produce to unique art, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The Farmers Market is held at the Tuscaloosa RiverMarket every Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to noon. Wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and start the day off right at the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market.
Later This Summer
The Mercedes-Benz Druid City Music Festival
You have likely seen by now the incredible lineup of Big Boi, Blackberry Smoke, Turkuaz, Break Science and others for the Druid City Music Festival, but did you know that you can purchase tickets NOW? To read more about this exciting event and buy tickets, please visit the website here.
In the One and Only Tuscaloosa, there are so many places to go and things to see. These 10 things are popular among the locals and won’t break the bank. So take a chance and try something new!
1. Children’s Hands-On Museum (CHOM)
This museum has been providing children with fun activities and events since 1984. There are three floors of fun for children of all ages. The Great Pumpkin Party and the Monster Walk Scavenger Hunt are two events that are happening soon. Admission is less than $10! CHOM is a great place to take the kids and enjoy a day of fun!
2. Paul W. Bryant Museum
This museum is a blast from the past! Check out over a hundred years of Crimson Tide memorabilia and football history. Visit the Paul W. Bryant museum to see what it takes to be “nothing but a winner.” Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children.
If you’re a dog lover then the arboretum is the place for you! The arboretum is sixty acres of the great outdoors. Check out the dog park, community garden, as well as the hiking trails. The best part is that it is completely free!
4. The Waysider
Take a trip to Paul “Bear” Bryant’s favorite breakfast destination. It truly is the breakfast of champions. The restaurant is packed with decades of Alabama memorabilia. The Waysider offers made-from-scratch biscuits and gravy all for just under $3!
5. Homegrown Alabama Farmers Market
Edit: We regret to inform you his event will no longer happen. If you are interested in farmers’ markets in Tuscaloosa then check out the Tuscaloosa Farmers’ Market at the River Market.
6. Babes Donuts
A family-owned breakfast, brunch and coffee business located in Downtown Tuscaloosa. The menu features gourmet doughnuts unlike anything else you’ll find in town. Flavors include: bacon maple, sourdough, Reese’s Peanut Butter, Heath Bar sprinkle, Captain Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, S’mores, red velvet, blackberry cream cheese and others. Seasonal offerings can range from King Cakes during Mardi Gras to candied blood oranges. Stop by and grab a treat for under $10.
7. Steel City Pops
Nothing is better than a Steel City Popsicle on a hot Alabama summer day. They have many flavors to choose from, so there is a flavor for everyone. Flavors include: Arnold Palmer, Bosc Pear with Honey, Champagne White Tea, Cinnamon Apple, Cranberry Orange, Lime, Plum with Rosemary, Pomegranate, Strawberry Fig, Strawberry Lemonade, Avocado, Buttermilk, Carrot Cake, Chocolate, Coconut, Coffee, Maple Bacon, Bourbon, Pumpkin, Toasted Marshmallow, Vanilla Bean. All popsicles are $4.49 and under.
8. Black Warrior River
The Black Warrior River is absolutely stunning and the perfect place to go on a hot summer day. You can cast a line and catch some fish or bring your own boat and cruise the water. The Black Warrior is also perfect for paddle boarding or just floating down the river. Don’t feel like getting in the water? That’s fine because the Tuscaloosa River Walk runs along the river and offers beautiful scenery. It’s the perfect place to get some exercise or take your dog for a walk.
9. City Café
For decades, locals and students alike have enjoyed the homemade cooking served up at City Café. At lunchtime, this restaurant is packed with locals stopping in for a tasty meal at a reasonable price. Stop in and enjoy a meat and three for under $10. You won’t be disappointed, it’s just like mama makes it.
10. Gallette’s Yellowhammer
Stop by Gallette’s and sip on a Tuscaloosa favorite. People from all over the United States have enjoyed Yellowhammer’s from the One and Only Gallettes while in Tuscaloosa. The Yellowhammer is a staple on gameday at the University of Alabama. Their yellow cup is a popular accessory for the Crimson Tide fans walking around the quad. Visit Gallette’s and try one for yourself.
Written by Rachel Horton
Many may not realize that the river alongside our fair city actually is more than just a vessel for large tug boats and pretty views along the riverwalk. There’s a wide array of activities you can do on the open waters of the Black Warrior. Explore the waters solo, or cruise along at sunset aboard a paddleboat, there’s hardly a limit to what you can do.
- Cruise the open waters
Bama Belle is back and ready to take you and your friends out on the calm cool waters of the river. They offer live music and breathtaking views of those sunsets Tuscaloosa is known for. You can also book the Bama Belle for private events and really enjoy the paddle boats old school charms.
- Paddleboard your way to zen
Once up on the board, there’s hardly a more serene and relaxing way to enjoy the river than a paddleboard. The waters are so gentle it’s easy to paddle your way along the riverbanks and really reconnect with nature. Show off those yoga skills with fellow yogis or just by yourself on the board.
- Canoe through the creeks
Another great way to explore the Black Warrior is to hop into a canoe and paddle around either the open waters or explore the many creeks that feed the river along the banks. The beautiful Hurricane Creek feeds the river and is a truly hidden natural gem in Tuscaloosa with secluded riverbanks and old railroad trestle bridges over the waters.
- Fish for a good time
The Black Warrior is home to a diverse ecosystem of over 120 freshwater fish and other aquatic animals that are hiding in the river. Find an open spot along the banks, and take some time to return to a primal way to hunt. If you can, take a pontoon or a canoe and cast a wider net in the deeper parts of the waters.
- Float and soak
Take a tube, some friends, and just gently float along the river with ease. Let the waters take away the stress of the day and soak up some sun while having to do little to no work as the gentle waves rock you.
Written By: Deven Wilson – Intern
One and Only: Tuscaloosa Riverwalk
With 4.2 miles of beautiful, woodsy paths along the southern bank of the Black Warrior River, the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk has a become a popular place to for people to enjoy the outdoors. The Riverwalk is a two-lane paved trail that runs through trees, over water, and across wooded-bridges, making it ideal for runners and bikers. It runs from the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater to the east side of Manderson Landing.
The Riverwalk offers a variety of park areas that are all pet-friendly. The pathway has plenty of benches, gazebos, picnic tables, and hammock-friendly trees that visitors can enjoy. There are several open areas for playing frisbee, picnicking, or relaxing to read a book. The trail also provides a fenced playground and a splash pad located near the Bama Bell dock for the children. The trail is well lit with street lamps lining the trail and there is access to an emergency phone if an accident occurs.
Along the pathway are shops and restaurants for people to stop by during their visit at the Riverwalk. The Shops at Riverwalk Place is home Another Broken Egg Café, Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, Bellagio Nails Spa, and the newly opened restaurant, River. Also along the trail is the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Visitor Center, where visitors can receive more information about the City of Tuscaloosa and the Tuscaloosa River Market, where fresh, local goods and produce are sold every Saturday.
Family friendly park areas, generous two-lane paved trails, pet-friendly policies, and breath-taking views make this location a must-visit. Be sure to visit the #OneandOnly Tuscaloosa Riverwalk at Jack Warner Pkwy NE, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401. For information about gazebo rentals, contact PARA Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority at (205)562-3210.
Written By: Adrian Gee, TTS PR Intern