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The Perdido River is a 60-mile long river that begins at the confluence of Fletcher Creek and Perdido Creek, approximately 8 miles northwest of Atmore in Escambia County, Alabama. This river defines the boundary between Alabama and Florida along nearly its entire length on its winding east – southeast course to Perdido Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. The Perdido, or “lost,” River was named by the Spanish who occupied its surrounding areas until 1813.
The Perdido is a typical blackwater river of the southeastern Coastal Plain. It is characterized by a sandy bottom and a deep, slow moving channel that flows through forested swamps and wetlands. Tannins (acidic, organic compounds) are released into the water by decaying vegetation from these forested areas, resulting in transparent, dark-stained “black” water that looks much like tea.
The Perdido River is considered to be the highest quality free-flowing blackwater river remaining in the southern Coastal Plain. Its corridor encompasses 120,000 acres of Alabama’s largest and most ecologically significant blackwater watershed. Near the headwater area of Rabun, Alabama, acres of pitcher plant bogs and forested wetlands form the beginning of the Perdido River corridor. Other habitats within the corridor include slash pine flatwoods, upland longleaf pine savannahs, marsh wetlands, forested wetlands, and Atlantic white cedar swamps which are rare this far west in the Gulf Coastal Plain. These habitats are utilized by a diverse array of plants and animals including many rare and endangered species.
The Perdido River corridor offers unlimited recreational opportunities. Its gently flowing black waters provide an ideal setting for anglers in kayaks and canoes. Float fishing on the Perdido River can be very productive, especially during the warm weather months. Ultra-light tackle and small artificial lures are most practical when float fishing on the Perdido River. Largemouth bass, chain pickerel, bluegill, and longear sunfish are eager to strike many types of baits and lures. Small topwater plugs, beetle spins, and shallow-diving crank baits will attract any of the species mentioned. Large white sandbars are numerous along the many bends of the winding Perdido River and provide excellent settings to rest, swim, and picnic.
Note that the Perdido River comprises the state border of Alabama and Florida for much of its length and a reciprocal agreement exists between both states that defines fishable areas. An Alabama freshwater fishing license is valid for the entire mainstem portion of the river where this border occurs; however, for Alabama resident anglers, waters covered by this agreement do not include other streams or tributaries which flow into the Perdido from Florida.
A conservation easement approach is planned for the Perdido River which would keep land ownership in private hands while shielding the area from development and ensuring public access for outdoor recreation. These future plans call for a recreational water trail with several access points for canoes, kayaks, and small boats as well as designated trails for equestrians and hikers. Perdido River Canoe Trail helps anglers find access to various points along the river at www.visitpensacola.com/sites/visitpensacola.com/files/trailmap/28_perdido_river.html
Primitive access is available within the Perdido River Wildlife Management Area outdooralabama.com/oaonline/perdido.cfm and a map of the area is available online at outdooralabama.com/hunting/land/wildlife-areas/wmamaps/Perdido%20River13-14%20secure.pdf.
Fishing license information may be found at: Licenses. Instant licensing is available via Internet or telephone. Youth age 15 and younger fish for free.
Currently, there is one privately owned canoe/kayak company that provides services to various access landings open for use on the Perdido River, www.perdidonaturaladventures.com/
For more information about recreational areas and attributes of the Perdido River watershed, see the following links at:
The Fisheries Section's District Office can answer specific questions about the Perdido River by sending email to Dave.Armstrong@dcnr.alabama.gov.