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Lower Coosa

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Boating, Fishing and Fish in the Lower Coosa River

Sport Fish Restoration Program

Part of one set of Coosa River rapids below Jordan DamThe 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.

The endangered Tulotoma snail is now relatively abundant under some of the rocks in the swift shoals of the lower Coosa River.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.

Coosa Whitewater River FestivalThe 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).

Angler fishes the lower Coosa River from a canoe.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), Wetumpka LandingCrommelin’s Landing at Gold Star Park in Wetumpka. The first is between the Hwy. 14 bridge and Bridge Street and on the east side of the river.  No sign marks the parks, but Corn Creek enters the Coosa River at the park. The other two are below Bridge Street. Wetumpka is on the west, and Crommelin is 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.

Possible outfitters:
Coosa Outdoor Center call Lonnie Carden or Karen Newton at 334-201-5510 for more information.
Coosa River Adventures 334-514-0279.

The Fisheries Section's District Office can answer specific questions about the lower Coosa River by sending email to Ken.Weathers@dcnr.alabama.gov.

"It shall be unlawful to intentionally stock or release any fish, mussel, snail, crayfish or their embryos including bait fish into the public waters of Alabama under the jurisdiction of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries as provided in Rule 220-2-.42 except those waters from which it came without the written permission of a designated employee of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources authorized by the Director of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries to issue such permit. The provisions of this rule shall not apply to the incidental release of bait into the water during the normal process of fishing."

Prepared by: Fisheries Section, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This site is presented for information only the Fisheries Section cannot be responsible for the quality of information or services offered through linked sites, disclaimer. To have your site included, send your URL, email address, or telephone number to the Fisheries Web Master, doug.darr@dcnr.alabama.gov. The Fisheries Section reserves the right to select sites based on relevant and appropriate content of interest to our viewers. If you discover errors in the content or links of this page, please contact Doug Darr. Thank you.

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