Home > Fishing Alabama > Freshwater > Where to Fish in Alabama > Rivers and the Mobile Delta > Coosa River
The Coosa River originates in northwest Georgia near Rome, and spans approximately 286 miles before eventually joining the Tallapoosa River in Alabama near Wetumpka. Along this stretch, there are a series of seven Alabama Power Company dams that impede the natural flow of the river and form large reservoirs. Before the days of dam construction, a series of impassible shoals existed on the Coosa River that halted riverboat travel. The wildest and roughest stretches of river were located on the lower Coosa; however, most of these spectacular whitewater displays are now deep below the surface waters of Jordan, Mitchell, and Lay reservoirs. One of the most impressive sets of falls known as the “devil’s staircase” was located at the site of present day Jordan Dam. At this location, it was said that rushing water could be heard from miles away. Downstream of this locality is the only free flowing riverine reach of the Coosa River remaining today in Alabama. This eight mile reach is impassible to all but specialized boats since it contains numerous shoals and rock outcroppings. The stateliness of this fragment of river serves as a reminder of the beauty of the Coosa River prior to hydroelectric power generation.
Alabama Power Company releases a continuous discharge of 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from Jordan Dam which provides for downstream flows. These releases support the remaining aquatic flora and fauna of the Coosa River including the endangered Tulotoma magnifica snail species which depends on moving water to survive. This discharge is increased to a base flow of 4,000 cfs during the spring to account for increased activity by anglers and boaters. On weekends and specific holidays during the summer months, recreational releases of 4,000 to 10,000 cfs support the whitewater enthusiasts’ desire for rapid flows. These flows may cease during extreme drought periods, such as occurred during the summers of 2006 and 2007. Under these extreme conditions, minimum flows may also be reduced slightly.
The whitewater aspect of this stretch of the Coosa River attracts numerous canoeists and kayakers each year. It has portions classified as high as class III rapids, but most of the river can be easily navigated by a beginner. The most popular set of shoals along this section of river is called “moccasin gap” or “moccasin shoals”. Other popular whitewater locations include river falls, pipeline falls, and corn creek shoals. Due to the popularity of this stretch of river, the City of Wetumpka sponsors the Coosa Whitewater Festival which attracts numerous visitors each year during the month of May. Two outfitters in Wetumpka are available to assist with a whitewater excursion on this stretch of river: Coosa River Adventures and Coosa Outdoor Center (Southern Trails).
Similar to the waters of the Coosa River, the fisheries are likewise unique. This section supports an unusually high abundance of large spotted bass, as well as other angler sought species such as largemouth bass, bluegill, longear sunfish, catfish, striped bass, and hybrid striped bass. Anglers need not consider bringing large bass boats typical of reservoirs into these hazardous waters. Smaller specialized boats with jet props sometimes brave the rapids; but most often, a canoe or kayak is a safer alternative. During periods of increased flows, an experienced Coosa River boater can carefully navigate these waters with a traditional prop; but it is certainly not recommended.
Public access is available on the upper portion of the river directly in the tailwaters of Jordan Dam on the east side. The downstream public takeout locations are at Corn Creek Park (carryout only) and Crommelin’s Landing at Gold Star Park in Wetumpka. Both of these sites are also located on the east bank of the river. Call 1-800-LAKES-11 for planned discharge information. The US Geological Survey can give you past gage heights at Wetumpka.
The Fisheries Section's District Office can answer specific questions about the lower Coosa River by sending email to Ken.Weathers@dcnr.alabama.gov.