Fishing the Fish River, Baldwin County
Fish River is coastal river that is located in southwest Baldwin County, Alabama. The entire 158 square mile of watershed is bounded between the communities of Stapleton on the north and Magnolia Springs to the south. Fish River is a major drainage of Weeks Bay, an estuarine embayment that ultimately drains into Mobile Bay. The Fish River is a tidal system with an average daily fluctuation of 1- to 1.5-feet. Its tidal nature also affects salinity levels that fluctuate substantially, from 0 to 25 ppt., depending on time of day and rainfall patterns.
Fish River is a small waterway with nine miles of navigable water that lies primarily between County Road 32 to the north and U.S. Highway 98 to the south. Two access ramps are available to accommodate anglers and boaters. One is located at the mouth of Fish River below the U.S. Highway 98 bridge, and the other is approximately 5 miles upstream off Honey Road and County Road 9, near the community of Marlow.
Anglers enjoy Fish River because it has a wide variety of fish species. Freshwater anglers have greater success in the upper portions of this river catching largemouth bass, bluegill, shellcracker, and black crappie. Bass anglers are most successful with small spinnerbaits, jighead grubs, and small plugs fished close to aquatic plants or structures off the stream bank. Bass in this river tend to be small and quite scrappy, though they can be caught in good numbers, especially during the spring and fall. Anglers should be aware of a fish consumption advisory for largemouth bass harvested from the Fish River. Please see the Alabama Department of Public Health website. Crickets are among the most popular baits for bream through the summer and crappie bite best on minnows in the early winter months. Some anglers also capture grass shrimp which is excellent live bait for all smaller freshwater and saltwater fish.
Because Fish River is estuarine in nature, it also has a seasonal variety of popular saltwater species, such as flounder, redfish, and speckled trout. These fish are usually caught using somewhat larger gear and baits. Flounder are best caught using live bait, such as a bull minnow, fished slowly on the bottom. Redfish and speckled trout are enticed to bite by using flashy spinnerbaits and soft plastic baits in a variety of colors and styles. Live shrimp fished under a popping cork are also very popular during winter and spring months.
With its small watershed, the Fish River tends to fluctuate wildly after a rainfall event. Consult the United State Geological Service water level gage for current water levels on this river. Other information about the watershed can be found on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency site. For more information about research, education, and recreation in the Fish River area, contact the Weeks By National Estuarine Research Reserve.
For more information on the Fish River, please contact the District V Fisheries Office.