Fish and Fishing in Flint Creek of North Alabama
Flint Creek is a slow flowing, meandering stream impacted by the fluctuating water levels of Wheeler Reservoir. Flanking the stream are bald cypress, water oak, river birch, black tupelo, sweet gum, sycamore, and other hardwood trees. Many old trees have succumbed to the affects of erosion and have fallen into the creek, making boat navigation difficult, but providing extremely good fish habitat. Rock bluffs are present in sections of the stream, while other portions have shallow swampy overbank areas. Some sections of Flint Creek are wild and undeveloped, while the upper reaches of the creek drain agricultural land comprised of livestock, poultry and row crop farms.
Flint Creek and its tributaries comprise 150 miles of streams draining 291,000 acres of land in Cullman, Lawrence, and Morgan counties of North Alabama. With its headwaters in north Cullman County, Flint Creek flows northerly into Morgan County. After converging with West Flint Creek near US Highway 31, Flint Creek continues northerly through Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, and past Decatur’s Point Mallard Park to its confluence with the Tennessee River at mile 308.5.
Navigating Flint Creek can be difficult due to the abundance of trees that protrude into the creek. Anglers that successfully weave their way through the myriad of trees can expect excellent crappie fishing. March and April are the best months of the year to “bag” a mess of crappie from Flint Creek. The abundance of boat trailers at the US Highway 31 Access Area near Hartselle testify to the quality of crappie fishing that the creek has to offer.
Crappie anglers can choose just about any tree to dabble their jigs and minnows amongst to catch their quarry. If crappie are not your preferred target, you may want to try your luck at pursuing the variety of bream (redear sunfish, bluegill, and longear sunfish). Crickets or worms should be your baits of choice for enticing these fish to bite. Two species of black bass (spotted bass and largemouth bass) are present in this creek and can be fooled with traditional bass baits. The most productive method is by pitching a jig or worm into the woody structure prevalent along the bank. If you like to catch catfish (flatheads, blues, and channels), try your luck with worms, chicken livers, cut bait, or stink baits fished near the bottom. If you are lucky, you may even catch a tasty yellow perch from Flint Creek. A cousin of the sauger and a recent introduction to Wheeler Reservoir, yellow perch are becoming more common.
Much of Flint Creek is within the TVA Reservation, making it accessible to the public. The numerous roads that cross or parallel the creek between County Road 55 and US Highway 67 provide anglers with many sites in which to access the creek. Remember to observe and heed all “No Trespassing” signs when accessing the stream. When treated with courtesy and respect, most landowners, when asked, will grant permission to cross their property to gain access to the stream.
Anglers whom desire to launch their boat have two public access areas from which to choose, one at Flint Creek Access Area off US Highway 31, the other at Hickory Hills Access Area located south of US Highway 67.
Since the 1950s, nonpoint source pollution has plagued Flint Creek. In 1992, EPA adopted Flint Creek and its watershed as its pilot watershed project. Within 10 years of the onset of this project, fecal coliform counts have declined, nitrate concentrations have decreased, turbidity has decreased, and ammonia concentrations have decreased. Although dissolved oxygen levels remain unchanged, the decline of duckweed and algae blooms demonstrates that the health of Flint Creek has improved (EPA, 2002).
Flint Creek is one of Alabama’s precious natural resources, and provides recreation to many anglers, canoeists, kayakers, hikers, photographers, and wildlife observers. Do not be alarmed when you see an American alligator basking in the sun on the quiet banks of this increasingly popular stream. Instead, enjoy the rarity of this encounter, and realize that their presence is a testament to Flint Creek’s revival. The creek and its watershed have improved since the onset of the Flint Creek Watershed Project’s restoration work. More work needs to be done, and you can help by remembering to “Leave it better than you found it.”
For more information on Flint Creek, please contact the District I Fisheries Office.