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Little Cahaba River

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Fishing and Floating the Little Cahaba River

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The Little Cahaba River is probably best known for its very popular and scenic canoe trails. These trails are enjoyed by canoeists and kayakers, who regularly make the downstream float from Bulldog Bend towards the juncture of the main stem of the Cahaba River. The Little Cahaba is a major tributary of the upper Cahaba River Basin watershed, which includes 190 miles of bluffs, shoals, and sharp ridges before entering the lower Cahaba Basin on the Coastal Plain.

The Little Cahaba River is idea for beginning and intermediate canoeists since it offers shoals and runs, deep pools, and several nice rapids to challenge paddling skills depending upon your level of expertise. Since the Little Cahaba lies above the Fall Line in the Alabama Valley and Ridge region, the river’s path is characterized by large rock outcroppings with ridges running northeast to southwest composed of sandstone and chert while nearby valley regions are made up of limestone and shale deposits.

The Nature Conservancy oversees 480 acres of land, known as the “Glades” (The Kathy Stiles Freeland Bibb County Glades Preserve), located along the Little Cahaba River. This unique preserve is often referred to as a “botanical storehouse” because it is home to approximately 61 rare species of plants, several of which are considered threatened or endangered. In addition, dozens of rare aquatic species and organisms, including the round rock snail, cylindrical lioplax snail, goldline darter, Cahaba shiner, and rocky-shoal spider lilies (commonly known as the Cahaba Lily) are found in the Little Cahaba River as it meanders through the preserve. According to Bill Garland, retired Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, this part of Bibb County is recognized as the most biologically diverse piece of real estate in the state of Alabama.

Cahaba Lily courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife ServiceIn an effort to further protect this region’s fragile natural resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service created the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge in 2002 that incorporates over 3,500 acres of land and lies adjacent to property purchased by the Natural Conservancy. Over seven miles of the Cahaba and Little Cahaba rivers lie within the boundary of the National Wildlife Refuge. This area is located approximately six miles east of West Blockton, AL on County Road 24, and river access is provided by a gravel road running south, just past the refuge sign entrance. Activities include hiking, fishing and hunting opportunities and interpretive kiosks, which are available to the public. Popular sportfish species available to anglers include bream (bluegill, redear and longear sunfishes), spotted bass, largemouth bass, and crappie. This small river also has an abundance of catfish, suckers, and other non-game riverine species.

Environmentalists and conservation minded citizens continue in their efforts to protect this area and its unique aquatic resources; however, concerns about the future remain. The Cahaba River Society indicate that over 55% of the Cahaba River and its tributaries have been placed on Alabama’s 303(d) list of waters that do not meet current water quality standards due to excessive amounts of sediments and nutrients. These factors, along with polluted stormwater runoff have resulted in a decline in the number and species diversity of fish sampled over the past 20 years. In addition, the blue shiner has disappeared from the Cahaba River watershed and the range of the endangered Cahaba shiner has decreased significantly. Historical trends in sampling data have shown generally decreasing numbers in sensitive species, such as darters, shiners, other minnows, madtom catfish, and various mussels, while species more tolerant of contaminants and siltation are increasing in number. These concerns reinforce the need for local communities, government agencies and non-government conservation organizations to unite in protecting the Little Cahaba River and the unique ecosystem that is associated with this small river and the entire Cahaba River Basin.

Links (disclaimer):

Fishing license information may be found at: Licenses. Instant licensing is available via Internet (2% fee) or telephone 1-888-848-6887 ($3.95 fee). Youth age 15 and younger fish for free. Alabama residents age 65 or older are not required to purchase a fishing license.
Possession and creel limits for Alabama public waters are listed at: Creel Limits

The US Geological Survey gives water discharge estimates and gage heights.

The land on the bottom of the stream and land adjacent to the stream may be privately owned, and permission must be obtained from the landowner prior to crossing or wading these areas. Limited access can be obtained from county road bridge right-of-ways crossing the creek.

The Fisheries Section's District Office can answer specific questions about the Little Cahaba River by sending email to Jay.Haffner@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."


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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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