Written by Becky Beall-

Most Southerners would recognize Tuscaloosa as home to The University of Alabama, the calling card of West Alabama. In fact, there are likely many folks outside of the South that would know that little tidbit thanks to an SEC football dynasty associated with UA. What may be lesser known is that Tuscaloosa was a former capital city with historical significance surrounding Civil Rights. I just wrote a book on Tuscaloosa, so hang with me while I spill the (sweet) tea on some of the area’s best gems.

Tuscaloosa is for Families

Most visitors don’t think of Tuscaloosa in terms of a family-friendly destination. But one trip and you’ll be smitten. From restaurants to attractions and even museums, T-Town pours out all the Southern hospitality to families in search of an affordable weekend getaway.

If you are looking for laid back days spent on the water, check out Lake Lurleen State Park in nearby Coker. There’s fishing, hiking, biking, areas to picnic, campgrounds, and places to rent paddleboards or boats. Need more? Take the fam jam to Tuscaloosa Barnyard for a lesson in milking cows, a chance to hold a baby chick, or maybe a run through the splashpad (depending on the season).

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, head indoors at the Art Garage (call ahead for studio times, open sessions, and so forth) and allow your child to unleash their artistic side. Children’s Hands-On Museum is also a must for rainy days! Enjoy a fun-filled visit that inspires children through the power of PLAY. There are lots of exhibits and S.T.E.A.M. experiences for children ages newborn to 13 years old. Wrap it up with an evening at Bowlero Tuscaloosa for food and fun with arcade games and bowling.

Tuscaloosa is for History Lovers

I did not begin this journey of uncovering the layers of Tuscaloosa thinking there would be so much for history buffs, but boy was I wrong! Explore the Heritage Site at Moundville Archaeological Park, take a self-guided tour of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Trail, eat at the Historic Waysider Restaurant, and visit a string of other museums and such that will tell the story of the Tuscaloosa of yesteryear.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include the Alabama Museum of Natural History on The University of Alabama’s campus in Smith Hall in this listing of historical must-sees. Founded in 1831, it is the state’s oldest museum and is home to an impressive collection of exhibits, collections, fossils, and the like. The building itself is Classical Revival style with an Atrium Gallery that features a sweeping staircase leading to the Grand Gallery Exhibition Hall. A visit here is both educational and stunning.

Tuscaloosa is for Foodies

Again, who knew? It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for the South’s best BBQ, a classic meat-and-three, game day wings and things, or an extra special upscale restaurant, you’ll find it in Tuscaloosa.

Meet your friends at Brown’s Corner for a charming experience at an unexpected speakeasy of sorts. Enjoy classic cocktails and a wonderful dinner filled with choices such as lobster rolls, steak, chicken, or pasta and don’t forget the 3 Cheese Mac. The name gives a nod to Brown’s corner store from days gone by, but the present day experience is stellar.

Dreamland BBQ is as iconic in Tuscaloosa as National Championships. A meal at this barbecue joint is a MUST for the best hickory-fired ribs you’ll ever put in your mouth, and don’t skip on the banana pudding. If you want a souvenir from Dreamland, a good choice is a bottle of their sauce.

Tuscaloosa is for Festivals

Tuscaloosa offers plenty to attract the crowds in the way of festivals and one of the largest is Kentuck Festival of the Arts which supports opportunities for emerging artists. There’s also Oktoberfest in September, and Fiddle Fest each year in February. Additionally, Mercedes-Benz Amphitheater offers many concerts throughout the year as well as playing host to Celebration on the River—a Fourth of July celebration that includes the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra.

Tuscaloosa is for Game Day Getaways

This book—100 Things to Do in Tuscaloosa Before You Die—offers tons of help for planning for your game day getaway! It’s got you covered with where to shop for game day apparel, a pre-game itinerary of places to visit (like the Paul W. Bryant Museum, Denny Chimes, etc.) and events to keep you hyped up (Walk of Champions and Elephant Stomp are two big ones). Plus, you’ll easily find the best bars only a walk from the stadium (Houndstooth Sports Bar and Gallettes—home of the Yellow Hammer drink), as well as perfect eateries for post-game celebrations. Tried and true, you’ll want this information.

About the Book

Tuscaloosa is just such a special place. A college town with a whole new group of folks moving in and out each year. Countless visitors continually pass through for sporting events. What I hope to do with the writing of this book is introduce traditions and opportunities for visitors to find value past their original travel purpose (likely an athletic event or a visit with their son or daughter studying at UA). Most people do not think of art galleries and museums when they hear “Tuscaloosa.” And, that’s okay, but there’s so much more to see and do when you have a plan. That plan is this guidebook.

Follow along with the fun and frolic as I continue to peel back the layers of Tuscaloosa and find out more about this Alabama jewel of a city.  I invite you to be a part of this journey tagging along at facebook.com/100ThingsTuscaloosa. And, when participating in Tuscaloosa events and fun, use the hashtag #100ThingsTuscaloosa. I can’t wait for you to see all 100 things within the pages of this book, and I am also excited to see the things you’re doing in Tuscaloosa.

Photo Credit: Becky Beall

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!

The Tuscaloosa Gauntlet is the hardest thing I’ve ever physically done.” Those are words we heard from a returning runner prepping for this year’s race. The Tuscaloosa Gauntlet is a 5-mile challenge through rigorous terrain complete with a Military-style obstacle course. The third annual event will be held in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on March 23, 2024 at Buddy Powell Pavilion. Individuals and teams of four are eligible to compete. There’s even a modified kid’s version of the race for the future soldiers!


“It was hatched within the Alabama Marines Foundation, which is a charitable 501C3 that helps veterans,” said race director Lee Busby, a U.S. Marine and Tuscaloosa City Councilman. “As Marines, we all go through an extreme training exercise called, ‘The Endurance Course,’ which is several miles of intense obstacles and running through rough terrain. There is a love hate relationship with it. It tests you mentally and physically, but when you finish there is a great sense of accomplishment,” he added. In a recent interview, Busby said he and some fellow Marines were reminiscing about that proud feeling back in 2020 when the idea to bring a similar race to Tuscaloosa was born.


Since the course would have strong military roots, Busby said it was essential the name paid proper homage. Although he doesn’t recall who exactly came up with “Tuscaloosa Gauntlet,” he remembers unanimous support from the founding event team. The word gauntlet has two meanings. The first is a glove worn with medieval armor to protect the hands during battle. The second is, “a double file of men facing each other armed with clubs to strike at an individual who is made to run between them.” While the latter of course IS NOT one of the obstacles of the event, Busby told us both meanings brought the “tough element,” the team was looking for.


The course was built by Warr Construction in the fall of 2021. The inaugural Tuscaloosa Gauntlet was held in the spring of 2022 with around 270 contestants. The goal was to grow the course in size and participants each year. The second year, the team did just that by gaining more than 150 additional entries. This year, Col. Busby has his target set on hitting over 500 competitors. While anyone can compete, an extra emphasis is being put on gaining more military representation this year.


“I hope this will become a known event for military units around the south who want to come do it,” Busby said.

See the trailer from the Inaugural Tuscaloosa Gauntlet in 2022!


Various military branches are represented in the challenge. Just some of the obstacles that will stand between runners and the finish line are an Air Force Batman Rappel Wall, a 100-meter Marine Obstacle Course, a 25-feet Navy Seal Cargo Net Climb, and an Army Airborne Weaver Drill.

See the trailer from the 2023 Tuscaloosa Gauntlet!


Participants will finish the race with a 50-yard mud crawl followed by an ice plunge. Runners who complete the challenge will receive medals in the form of dog tags. Top winners in the men’s, women’s and team’s heats will be awarded exclusive Tuscaloosa Gauntlet trophies. There is still time to register at tuscaloosagauntlet.com. Use the code VisitTCL at checkout to receive $10.00 off. We can’t wait to see if you have what it takes to conquer the Tuscaloosa Gauntlet!

Be sure to check out the latest trailer for The Tuscaloosa Gauntlet 2024!

Register Today at www.tuscaloosagauntlet.com.

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!

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: 34-year-old 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 and eventually wanted to become 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.” 

When it comes to fishing in Tuscaloosa County, to catch summertime bass at Tuscaloosa County’s Holt Reservoir, my primary lure is a Megabass Ito Vision 110+1 Jerkbait in a GP Pro Blue II color that I keep on my rod almost all year long. I’ll be constantly casting and retrieving. This jerkbait runs about 10-15 feet deep, and I’ll use a jerk-jerk-pause type of retrieve and keep the bait moving, until I get a strike. That tells me what cadence the bass want and whether they’ll attack while the lure is moving or sitting still. I’ll work this lure on an iRod Genesis II jerkbait-exclusive rod that’s a medium-action 6’10” long rod. It has a soft tip that helps give the bass a little more of the lure when the bass is jumping and shaking the bait. My reel is a Lew’s HyperMag reel with an 8.3:1 gear ratio, and my line is 10-pound Seaguar Tatsu.

Hollingsworth with caught bass
Hollingsworth with caught bass

Another of my favorite lures is the Jackal Gavacho in a gill pattern. Since the bluegill are spawning during the summertime in shallow water, you’ll see this bait I’m holding has numbers of bass teeth marks on it. I’ll fish this lure with an iRod Croaker Crusher series, a technique-specific rod, 7’8” long that’s heavy action. I’ll pair that with Lew’s HyperMag 7.5:1 gear ratio reel. So, if I hook into a 5-pound bass, I can winch it out of the cover. I’ll fish with 50-pound test Power Pro braided line and tie the braid straight to the lure. I don’t use a fluorocarbon leader.

I’ll also fish in Tuscaloosa County in the summer at Holt with a Megabass Uoze Swim Jig with a 3/8-ounce head. If I’m fishing another lake somewhere with bigger bass, I’ll use a 1/2-ounce head. I put a Rattlin’ Chunk from Googan Squad and sometimes a Googan Squad Krackin’ Craw as a trailer on this lure. I like the iRod Genesis III that’s a stone-cold swim-and-vibrating jig rod. At Holt, I’ve caught bass weighing 5+ pounds, while using this set-up. My line is 20-pound-test Seaguar Tatsu, and my reel is a Lew’s HyperMag with a 7.5:1 gear ratio. I fish lures in a bluegill pattern, since bluegills are spawning in the shallows during the summer months. I’ll cast the Megabass Uoze Swim Jig right up against the bank in the summer. If the grass is scattered, I’ll do what’s called an “Alabama Shake,” as I retrieve the bait. I’ll also use this same lure on a steady retrieve because the lure has legs that kick as you retrieve it. This lure has a spinner on it, and I’ve caught bass with and without the spinner.

Rapla DT 8
Rapala DT 8

When I’m fishing in Tuscaloosa County deep in the summertime, I’ll use the Rapala DT 8 that goes down further than 8-feet deep – sometimes to 12 feet when I fish it on 12-pound test Yozuri Hybrid Copolymer line. The color pattern is the Ike’s Custom Penguin color. My rod will be the KVD 7’4” long, medium-heavy, moderate-action, made by Lew’s. I also like Lew’s Tournament MP Baitcasting Reel with a 6.8:1 gear ratio. 

I like the shakey head jig and the drop shot rig that I fish on a medium-action, 7’1” iRod Genesis III Finesse fishing rod. I’ll also fish a Zoom Baby Brush Hog and dip the tail in chartreuse dye with garlic in it. Sometimes I’ll fish the Baby Brush Hog with a steady retrieve, and other times I’ll let it fall to the bottom and use a steady retrieve, while waiting for the bass to grab hold of it. I feel like I always can pick up this lure and start catching bass with it.

Reaction Innovation Kinky Beaver
Reaction Innovation Kinky Beaver

There really is no such thing as a timeout in Tuscaloosa – and we’re totally okay with that!  While our friends up North or in the Midwest experience winter snowstorms, our ideal southern location in West Alabama is a prime setting for events year-round.

While the University of Alabama is bursting with all sorts of events this semester, Tuscaloosa is also home to many winter and spring activities that are perfect for those living here or visiting.  Whether you’re looking for something that’s indoors or outdoors, family-friendly, or for young adults, we hope you’ll consider a visit to our City.

Continue reading to learn about seven upcoming events that we’re looking forward to in Tuscaloosa!

Theatre Tuscaloosa Presents On Golden Pond

Date: Friday, February 25th (opening date)

This classic play inspired the Academy Award-winning film with Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn.  Norman is a curmudgeon with a strained relationship with his daughter, Chelsea.  Together for their 48th summer at Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea’s fiancé, and a most unexpected relationship blooms.

To learn more or to purchase your ticket, click here.

Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports Half Marathon + 5K

Date: Saturday, March 26th

On March 26th, join us as we celebrate 10 years of West Alabama’s premier 13.1-mile running event featuring a great course, good food, friendly staff and volunteers, and a run to remember!  As you run throughout the heart of Tuscaloosa, you’ll enjoy scenic views, experience some of Tuscaloosa’s most historic neighborhoods, and get some phenomenal selfie opportunities with many Alabama-related iconic spots like Bryant Denny Stadium and Denny Chimes.  All runners will have access to a post-race party full of beverages and food!  Registration is open for the half marathon and 5k.

For more information or to register, click here.

West Alabama Food & Wine Festival

Date:  Thursday, April 7th

The 8th Annual West Alabama Food & Wine Festival will showcase some of the best local restaurants with tasting tables that highlight signature dishes. Wine tastings are provided by local distributors to introduce trendy and seasonal varietals. The event takes place along the scenic Black Warrior River at the Tuscaloosa River Market and benefits the West Alabama Food Bank!  Details are actively being finalized, so be sure to visit their website to learn more and to purchase a ticket.

Access the West Alabama Food & Wine Festival website here.

Inaugural Tuscaloosa Gauntlet – A Marine-Inspired 5k Obstacle Course

Date: Saturday, April 9th

The Alabama Marines Foundation is excited to host the inaugural Tuscaloosa Gauntlet event.  This is a Marine-inspired 5k obstacle course that is open for anyone to participate – even including a youth heat!  If you’re a fan of obstacle races, you’ll love to hear that this course is one-of-a-kind in Alabama and will feature the Marine’s “O Course” as one of the 20+ obstacles.  They have partnered with Phoenix Races and it is an OCRWC Qualifier.  This race will give all who participate a purpose and a challenge worth celebrating!

To learn more and to register, click here.

Golden Flake A-Day

Date:  Saturday, April 16th

Three months is just too long without football season – but we are in luck!  This Spring game, a long-standing University of Alabama and Tuscaloosa tradition, is our annual college football exhibition game that takes place at the conclusion of spring practice.  Played at the one and only Bryant Denny Stadium, fans get a preview for the upcoming football season for free.  Continuing with tradition, the captains from the previous seasons’ team will also be honored at the annual Walk of Fame ceremony at the base of Denny Chimes, in addition to many other activities!

Check out the Crimson Tide’s 2022 football schedule and A-Day details by clicking here.

Tuscaloosa Mayor’s Cup 5k for Pre-K presented by Mercedes-Benz U.S. International

Date: Saturday, April 30th

On Saturday, April 30th, over 1,000 runners and walkers will gather in Downtown Tuscaloosa for a great cause.  Since the inaugural race in 2007, the Mayor’s Cup has raised over $325,000 for the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative.  The race 3.1 miles and begins and ends at Government Plaza.  We are thrilled to have this annual race return in 2022!

For more information or to register, click here.

Druid City Arts Festival presented by Cadence Bank

Date: Friday and Saturday, May 20-21

Located in the heart of Downtown Tuscaloosa at Government Plaza, the Druid City Arts Festival (DCAF) is a local favorite that we look forward to each year!  Spring will have arrived and it’s the perfect time to enjoy art, music, and food of all kinds.  No matter your age, this festival has something for everyone (plus it’s free to attend – bonus!).  If you have children bring them along! They will have the opportunity to explore the Kids Zone, giving them a chance to show off their creativity too.

As always, never miss an event in Tuscaloosa or Northport with our Visit Tuscaloosa Events Calendar!